Reaching a one-year contract compromise with the Giants just as camps opened, Barkley remains a top-five Fantasy running back worth drafting in Round 1. It makes it much easier to invest an early pick without the specter of a holdout. Barkley had a bounce-back season in 2022 when he averaged 17.7 PPR points per game, which was his best total since 2019. After two-injury plagued years, it was great to see Barkley show off his skills again, and Fantasy managers reaped the benefits with more than 1,600 total yards, 57 receptions and 10 touchdowns. He should be a star again in coach Brian Daboll's offense. Barkley is one of the rare NFL running backs with 350-total touch potential, which is why he is worth drafting in Round 1.
After contract drama early in the offseason and then a franchise tag, Barkley eventually re-signed with the Giants on a 1-year deal.
For 2023, at least, he’s positioned for another strong year alongside HC Brian Daboll and QB Daniel Jones. An upgraded supporting cast should help retain his double-digit TD upside.
If his receiving efficiency improves, we could even see Barkley challenge for overall RB1 totals.
What We Learned Last YearBarkley enjoyed a resurgence alongside NFL Coach of the Year Brian Daboll.Good health differentiated 2022 from recent seasons. Barkley suffered a neck stinger late in the year but played through it. No other issue landed him on the injury report.Barkley sat out Week 18 to rest for the postseason.Across 16 games, he tallied four top-5 PPR lines; only three outside the top 17.Overall, he ranked as the RB5 in PPR.Barkley finished fourth in carries, fourth in yards, and tied for fifth in TDs. The carries and yardage marked a career high.Volume was vital, as Barkley’s underlying metrics weren’t flawless.Among 24 RBs with 200+ carries, Barkley slotted seventh in Pro Football Focus rushing grade but 21st in elusive rating and 19th in yards after contact per attempt.He ranked 30th at the position in success rate, according to Football Outsiders; 21st in rushing DVOA.Barkley’s receiving numbers proved inconsistent, too.He recorded just 5.9 yards per catch and 0 TDs on 57 receptions.His 8.4 yards after catch per reception was strong, but he had a career-low 0.94 yards per route run.Barkley needed to shoulder the load for a Giants offense that lacked impact talent. Only two RBs tallied more touches (352).He ran behind a Giants’ O-line that ranked a mid-pack 19th in PFF rushing grade and 26th in run block win rate.What to Expect in 2023The Giants return HC Brian Daboll and OC Mike Kafka after ranking eighth in rush attempts per game; seventh in run rate. Now 26 and with nearly 1,200 career touches, Barkley’s likely already hit peak performance as an NFL RB. But our research with historical aging curves shows he’s not in for an on-field decline this year.Any lack of efficiency can be overcome by volume.The Giants made no significant backfield investments, drafting Oklahoma’s Eric Gray in Round 5 and retaining veteran Matt Breida.There’s no clear handcuff, but Gray would be our pick right now. He’s still not a must-draft for Barkley managers.The Giants applied the franchise tag to Barkley in March.Barkley skipped OTAs and threatened to holdout into the season. But he eventually agreed to a 1-year deal to stay in New York.This O-line returns three locked-in starters: LT Andrew Thomas, RT Evan Neal, and RG Mark Glowinski. No issues with that trio.New York used a Round 2 pick on C John Michael Schmitz. On his run-blocking, NFL Network’s Lance Zierlein said: “His overall technique and teamwork in the run game should create a plug-and-play opportunity in the pros.”LG looks like a potential weak spot, making it one to watch in camp. Former Raven Ben Bredeson is the likely favorite.
Barkley received the franchise tag and will be back with the Giants in 2023. After injuries cost him 21 games during the 2019-21 seasons, Barkley bounced back in a big way in 2022, pacing the position in snaps and finishing top five in carries, targets, touches, scrimmage yards and fantasy points. Barkley's efficiency hasn't quite jumped off the page, especially as a receiver (4.5 YPT on 135 targets over the past two seasons), and we did see a bit of a drop-off as the 2022 season progressed (third in PPG during Weeks 1-10, 12th from Week 11 on). Still, he's in his prime at age 26, one of the league's most gifted backs and sees a ton of volume as both a rusher and receiver. Barkley is a strong RB1.