2024 NFL Free Agency: The Best Fantasy Football Landing Spots for Saquon Barkley

One of the league's most electric players will hit the free agent market.

No running backs were franchise-tagged ahead of free agency following the deadline on Tuesday.

The running back position is already tricky to navigate in fantasy football. Before the start of last season, there were ten clear bell cow backs. Now, with many big names up for grabs, that number drops even further. For example, only four running backs are listed in the top 15 of our 2024 Fantasy Football Rankings.

Bell cows Saquon Barkley, Austin Ekeler, Derrick Henry, Josh Jacobs, Tony Pollard, and D’Andre Swift are all eligible for new teams as they hit the open market during the legal tampering period on Monday, March 11.  

“I do know there’s a lot of backs that are available this year,” Las Vegas Raiders GM Tom Telesco said last week. “So, I guess it remains to be seen what other people think, but the talent pool at that position in free agency is relatively high.”


The Giants were unwilling to pay Barkley $12 million this year and apply a franchise tag for a second straight season as the league deadline passed. 

The 27-year-old had 1,242 total yards and reached the double-digit plateau for touchdowns one year ago. While he missed three games due to injury, the injuries that ailed him early in his career look to be a thing of the past. 

Additionally, his 247 rush attempts (17.6 average per game) were the third-most of his career, as the Giants relied on him for offense when they often couldn’t rely on their wide receivers. No team’s receiving corps was rostered less than the Giants in fantasy last season. Barkley finished as the fourth-best fantasy running back in 2023-24 and tied his second-best amount of scores for his career.

“If he was in San Francisco, he would be Christian McCaffrey,” one pro personnel director told ESPN. “He hasn’t had an offensive line, ever, in New York.”


Ahead of his franchise tag last season, Barkley averaged $7.8 million per year after signing his rookie four-year deal with New York in 2018. According to The Athletic, only five running backs are currently playing on a deal that pays them more than $7 million annually: Christian McCaffrey, Nick Chubb, Jonathan Taylor, Alvin Kamara, and Aaron Jones.

“He’ll be fighting with [Josh] Jacobs and [Derrick] Henry to be the top-paid running back [in free agency],” an executive told ESPN.

At the time of publication, the Giants currently have a little more than $38 million in cap space. However, potential landing spots for Barkley already have more spending flexibility.


The Texans, Titans, Bears, Bengals, Chargers, Ravens, and Eagles all currently have more money available and openings at the position.

Now, Tennessee should really have an asterisk since it has opted not to pay Derrick Henry. However, Houston and Chicago look like big spenders pushing toward a win-now mode with high-upside youth on their respective rosters.


Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans said he wanted to get Dameon Pierce 1,000 yards last season. Houston did just the opposite—becoming a pass-heavy team and relegating Pierce to a backup role behind now-free-agent Devin Singletary. The Texans can even splurge on a running back—for now—and find a rookie in the draft, too, who fits the tab.

The improbable AFC South winners, with roughly $70 million in cap space, look to bring a back in that allows for a true playoff push.

Barkley’s fit in Houston would mirror the likes of Jacksonville’s offense. Travis Etienne, even with the drafting of Tank Bigsby, shined with multiple reliable receivers and a strong force at tight end. Barkley would run alongside Nico Collins, Tank Dell and Dalton Schultz.


Chicago is again a wild card. Unless it trades out of the No. 1 overall pick, it seems quarterback Justin Fields will play elsewhere. The Bears draft first and ninth overall, meaning the team doesn’t necessarily need to grab a quarterback right off the bat if that’s the direction they’re leaning. While that doesn’t mean it takes a running back quickly, freeing up money with a plan heading into the draft would allow it to spend in free agency.

Chicago couldn’t decide who it liked better or wanted to use consistently between Khalil Herbert, D’Onta Foreman, and Roschon Johnson last season. 

A one-two punch, like in Detroit, can work well. Chicago’s backfield looked anything but put together and didn’t throw punches.

With $56.5 million in current cap space, the Bears could bring a veteran presence to aid Fields or Caleb Williams to boost the team’s immediate future. A Daniel Jones-led offense has similarities to a potential Bears offense, but Chicago at least currently has one reliable wideout it looks toward every week in D.J. Moore

Barkley can begin negotiating with teams on Monday.


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