New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley picked up an ankle injury during the team’s 31-28 win over the Arizona Cardinals. His status for the Giants’ matchup against the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday Night Football in serious jeopardy. Is backup running back Matt Breida worth starting consideration in your fantasy football lineup against one of the best defenses in the league? Let’s take a closer look.
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Latest Injury News Surrounding Saquon Barkley
First things first, here is the latest injury update we have on Barkley.
An MRI showed that Giants’ RB Saquon Barkley suffered an “ordinary” ankle sprain that now is expected to sideline him three weeks, per source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 18, 2023
According to a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Barkley’s MRI revealed an ordinary ankle sprain, which could make him unavailable for the next three weeks.
The optimistic way to look at this news is that he avoided the dreaded high ankle sprain, which tends to be a major problem for skill-position players to deal with during the season because of the high risk of reaggravating the injury.
Barkley also had an encounter with a high ankle sprain back in 2019, which cost him four games altogether. However, he was far less efficient in his return from the ankle injury for the remainder of the season.
Update: Barkley has now been ruled out for TNF against the San Francisco 49ers.
Barkley was also projected as a non-participant for the team’s practice on Monday.
GIANTS INJURY REPORT 9/18
RB Saquon Barkley (Ankle)
OL Ben Bredeson (Concussion)
ILB Micah McFadden (Neck)
OLB Azeez Ojulari (Hamstring)
WR Wan’Dale Robinson (Knee)
T Andrew Thomas (Hamstring)
(The Giants conducted a walkthrough; participation is a projection.) pic.twitter.com/8Hscc86fQd
— Dan Salomone (@Dan_Salomone) September 18, 2023
Should You Add Backup Matt Breida?
When Barkley exited the game against the Cardinals on the team’s final offensive possession, it was Breida who saw the final carry for the team.
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Unless the team signs a free agent running back — or decides to give another back on the roster priority for an expanded role — Breida should be the leading candidate to see most work out of this Giants backfield in Week 3.
Should you put in a waiver wire claim to add Breida? Yes.
The real question is, should you trust Breida in your lineup against the 49ers?
My answer is no.
The Giants’ offense struggled through the first six quarters of the season, scoring a grand total of zero points during that span.
Sure, the team managed to score 31 points in the second half against the Cardinals, but the Niners’ defense is about three tiers higher than the Cardinals’ unit on the NFL defensive hierarchy.
If a talent like Barkley struggled to get going in a feature role in this offense, I just don’t see the upside for Breida against the Niners. He feels like a touchdown-dependent dart throw against an elite defense. I’d rather go in another direction.
What Free Agent Running Backs Are Available for the Giants?
If Barkley is going to miss multiple weeks, the team could pursue a free agent running back. Currently, Kareem Hunt and Leonard Fournette are the top available veteran running backs on the open market.
While Hunt and Fournette have seen plenty of success in the NFL, both have failed to secure a deal after visiting with multiple teams during the course of this offseason and training camp.
Not to mention, even if the team did have an interest in signing a veteran back to put some quality depth behind Saquon, the team is scheduled to play a game in just two days. The odds of a free agent running back signing a contract today and playing a significant role in the offense in just over 48 hours feels highly unlikely.
Additionally, the team could potentially give the Los Angeles Rams a call to see what the asking price is for Cam Akers. But this feels a bit more unlikely given Barkley isn’t expected to miss a ton of time.