Saquon Barkley 2024 Fantasy Outlook Soars in Eagles Offense

Saquon will eat behind the league's top offensive line.

Saquon Barkley has entered a new chapter of his career with the NFC East rival Philadelphia Eagles, inking a lucrative three-year contract worth $37.75 million, with potential earnings reaching $46.75 million.

His addition marked yet another running back securing a considerable payday to kick off 2024 NFL free agency. Significant fantasy football names changed addresses during the first 24 hours, including Josh Jacobs to the Packers, Tony Pollard to the Titans, D’Andre Swift to the Bears, Aaron Jones to the Vikings, Austin Ekeler to the Commanders, Joe Mixon to the Texans, Derrick Henry to the Ravens, and many more.

2024 Fantasy Football: Saquon Barkley to EAGLES, Josh Jacobs to PACKERS & More!

However, amidst the excitement, questions linger about which version of Barkley the Eagles are investing in – the formidable force of years past or the more subdued performer of recent seasons.

While Barkley has maintained a solid level of play over the past two years following an ACL injury in 2020, it’s been a noticeable departure from his dominant pre-injury form. But was it out of his control while playing behind an abysmal offensive line with an average quarterback under center?

Let’s dive in.

EAGLES OFFENSIVE LINE BOOST

Part of Barkley’s recent challenges can be attributed to the less-than-ideal offensive environment in New York. Barkley has faced hurdles with an offensive line that ranks poorly and a quarterback in Daniel Jones who hasn’t alleviated pressure on the run game.

Barkley leaves PFF’s 30th-ranked offensive line and will run behind the league’s top offensive line in Philadelphia.

In the past season, Giants’ running backs faced considerable resistance in the backfield, with a staggering 23.3% of runs resulting in being stuffed, ranking second-worst in the league. In contrast, Eagles’ running backs encountered far less resistance, with only 14.2% of runs being stuffed, the second-best ranking. Consequently, this disparity meant Eagles’ backs enjoyed more than double the yards before contact per attempt, increasing from 0.9 to 1.9 yards.

Even with Jason Kelce’s retirement, Howie Roseman builds from the inside out. He selected Cam Jurgens in the second round in 2022 and signed Matt Hennessy from the Falcons—both of whom can play center or guard.

Either way, Saquon will see more space in front of him than ever before.

SAQUON BARKLEY 2024 FANTASY OUTLOOK WITH EAGLES

Nonetheless, Barkley, at 27, still possesses the talent and every-down upside to be a significant fantasy asset. Yet, despite his potential to upgrade Philadelphia’s backfield, the team’s offensive dynamics under Jalen Hurts pose concerns for Barkley’s fantasy outlook.

Hurts’s inclination to scramble rather than target running backs has limited the fantasy upside for Eagles’ running backs. Additionally, Hurts’ tendency to get pushed into the end zone on the goal-line has further lowered Barkley’s ceiling as an elite fantasy running back in his new home. Over the last two seasons, when the Tush Push became a thing, Hurts rushed for 28 touchdowns, most of which came within the five-yard line.

Expect Barkley to contribute explosiveness and maintain a steady workload between the 20s, but the potential for a capped ceiling is real.

After overcoming injury setbacks in 2020 and 2021, Barkley rebounded as a solid RB5 and RB13 in PPR scoring over the past two seasons. Yet, his metrics, such as success rate and yards after contact per carry, indicate a decline from his earlier years.

Although his rushing numbers dipped, he saved his last two fantasy seasons by totaling 98 receptions for 618 yards and four touchdowns on 136 targets. Hurts doesn’t necessarily pepper his running backs, but their running back room saw 154 total targets over that same time period.

Still, Barkley’s move to Philadelphia presents an opportunity for resurgence, particularly with the Eagles boasting a formidable offensive line that significantly outmatches the Giants’. Despite Kelce’s retirement, the Eagles’ line prowess offers Barkley a promising, thriving environment he never had in his NFL career.

Despite the team’s ability to create running lanes, Philadelphia’s recent running backs have struggled to generate yards after contact. Barkley’s track record suggests he could outperform the likes of D’Andre Swift, Miles Sanders, Kenneth Gainwell, and Boston Scott in this aspect, even if his numbers have dipped in recent seasons.

Overall, while Barkley’s move to Philadelphia may not instantly catapult him into top-three fantasy running back territory, the potential for rejuvenation within a better offensive scheme and a boost in surrounding talent is immense.

SUMMARY

Saquon is nearing the RB danger zone at 27 years old. He is coming off a season in which he rushed for 962 yards and six touchdowns, but most of his disappointing production can be attributed to the lack of surrounding talent in New York.

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

Now, behind the league’s top offensive line and alongside a mobile quarterback with a bevy of weapons, Barkley can hit Christian McCaffrey-esque yardage totals due to his elite three-down upside — even if his touchdown numbers aren’t elite.

Following the move, Barkley climbed The Wolf’s 2024 Fantasy Rankings to RB6 and No. 14 overall.

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