Saquon Barkley Injury Update: Injury timeline, return date, updates on Giants RB

    Saquon Barkley has missed 17 of the Giants' last 24 games with an injury. At his best, he can dominate, but what is his outlook this season?

    On Wednesday, Saquon Barkley was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Between that and an ankle injury that has sidelined him for nearly a month, Barkley has gone from “risky RB1” to “will he return this season?” With that in mind, what are the injury and fantasy football outlooks for the Giants’ franchise RB?

    Saquon Barkley’s injury outlook

    Those who drafted Barkley at his preseason RB7 ADP knew what they were getting into. Few running backs are as talented as Barkley, but few carried the same degree of injury risk. After missing three games in his first two NFL seasons, he’s missed 17 of New York’s last 24 contests. Additionally, after compiling 23 touchdowns in his first 29 games, he’s had only 3 TDs in his last seven contests.

    Worse yet, Barkley has averaged only 3.1 yards per carry in those seven games. Perhaps this can be blamed, in part, on ramping back up after injury recoveries. Or maybe it’s New York’s offensive line.

    How has the Giants’ depth at RB performed with Barkley out?

    Nonetheless, 2020 backup Wayne Gallman averaged 4.6 yards per carry. 2021 backup Devontae Booker has steadily improved his yards per carry in his three starts, hitting 4.0 last weekend.

    The concern with Barkley is not just his recent injury history — the Giants are going nowhere this season. That’s not due only to Barkley’s absence — Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard, and Darius Slayton have all missed time. Shepard will miss more action. At 2-5, and with the Raiders and Bucs looming around a Week 10 bye, this team will be lucky to be 3-6 heading into a Week 11 showdown with the Eagles. If their dim postseason hopes aren’t dashed by then, the Chargers in Week 14 or the Cowboys in Week 15 should do the trick.

    Saquon Barkley’s fantasy outlook

    It’s hard to imagine New York pushing Barkley into a bell-cow role, even when he’s healthy. There is too much to lose if he’s not at 100% heading into 2022, the final year of his contract.

    In fact, we should not be surprised if the team shuts him down later this season if they’re mathematically eliminated from postseason contention.

    Related | Week 9 Waiver Wire: Best pickups and targets for fantasy football include Carlos Hyde, DeVante Parker, and Pat Freiermuth

    The realistic best-case scenario for Barkley this season is that he returns in Week 11 against the Bucs, ramps up more the following week versus the Eagles, and then is turned loose in Week 13 against a beatable Dolphins defense, opening the door for a successful run through the fantasy playoffs.

    But that optimal scenario requires that he: 1) Gets healthy, and 2) Returns to form. This is something we haven’t glimpsed much since 2019.

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