Saquon Barkley Start/Sit Week 3: Is he finally healthy?

After a slow start, can you trust Saquon Barkley in your Week 3 fantasy matchups, or should you roll without him this week?

Saquon Barkley and the New York Giants face the Atlanta Falcons in Week 3, but what should fantasy football managers do with their superstar running back? Is Barkley set for a monster Week 3 performance, or will he disappoint again?

Saquon Barkley’s fantasy returns have been slim in 2021

When drafting Barkley in fantasy leagues this year, managers knew they might have to be patient. However, the feeling was that patience would be required in terms of him seeing the field. Then, Barkley was deemed healthy ahead of Week 1 but was said to be limited early in the season.

This has put fantasy managers in a tough spot in terms of decisions surrounding Barkley. In Week 1, he had just 10 carries and 1 reception, which he turned into 27 total yards. Then, in Week 2, he performed slightly better, taking 13 carries and 2 receptions for 69 yards.

All of that has led to Barkley having just 11.1 fantasy points through the first two weeks. As it stands, Barkley ranks 49th at the RB position. Those are not the returns managers were looking for back on draft day.

The Falcons have ranked in the middle of the pack against RBs so far

Through two weeks, the Falcons have ranked as the 20th-toughest matchup for RBs. In those two games, they’ve allowed a total of 190 rushing yards and 1 touchdown to the position. Yet, they’ve also allowed 13 receptions on 17 targets for 94 yards.

On a per-game basis, those numbers break down as 95 rushing yards, 6.5 receptions, and 47 receiving yards. The positive for Barkley and his fantasy value is that of the rushing attempts handled by the Giants’ running backs, he has 23 of the 31 (74%).

But there is a negative to that positive. QB Daniel Jones has seen 15 carries this year and has been effective with them. Jones has 122 yards and 2 touchdowns on those 15 rushing attempts. Whether or not Jones’ role in the run game will diminish as Barkley gets healthier is yet to be known. For now, though, we may have to accept Jones taking a percentage of the carries every week.

Should you start Barkley in your fantasy league?

It is really tough to know how to approach Barkley. If he is only seeing 14.5 opportunities per game, then he will struggle to be the stud that people drafted him to be. On top of that, the Giants have an offensive line that does not help him in the run game.

Normally, that would not be a major concern. But compounding that issue in the run game is a lack of opportunities in the passing game. Barkley has just 6 targets, which is less than 9% of the team target share.

The positive for Barkley’s fantasy managers is that for the first time this year, he is not listed on the injury report heading into a game. In the first two contests, Barkley was listed as questionable. It’s tough to know if that means we will see his opportunities per game grow from below 15 to around 20.

If you drafted Barkley, how you approach this week largely depends on your situation and roster. If you are 0-2 and your RB situation is weak, you may have to gamble on Barkley. However, if you are 2-0, with depth at the position, you could perhaps afford not to take the risk this week.

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