Saquon Barkley pushing to be fantasy's top player, but Giants also offer upside with Darius Slayton

The Yahoo Fantasy analysts will preview all 32 NFL teams between now and the eventual start of the 2020 draft season. Here, we’ll tackle pressing fantasy questions, #FantasyHotTaeks, and team win totals. Next up, the New York Giants.

What percentage chance do you give Saquon Barkley finishing as fantasy’s top-scoring RB?

Andy: I think he’s a near-lock to finish as a first-round value in any sort of PPR format, assuming good health. That’s why we’re taking him among the opening picks in every draft. I’d give Barkley essentially the same odds as McCaffrey to finish No. 1 overall — something like a 10-15 percent chance. Again, I’d always take the field over any individual player.

When Barkley finally recovered from last year’s ankle injury, let’s just recall that he was unstoppable. He gained 539 scrimmage yards and scored five touchdowns over the final three weeks. If you happened to make it to championship week with Barkley on your roster, there’s a very good chance you took home a title. He already has a season with 90-plus catches and 2,000 scrimmage yards on his resume, so there’s no question he has the potential to deliver an all-time fantasy campaign.

Scott: I’ll try not to waste anyone’s time here. Barkley’s ADP is 2.1 in Yahoo, 2.1 in NFFC. After Christian McCaffrey, he’s the clear go-to. The offense looks on the upswing, and Barkley is #good. I wouldn’t target him at the No. 1 slot, but I wouldn’t try to talk anyone out of it, either. We skate to where the puck is headed, not where it’s been.

Like Andy said, “field” is always the way to bet on these “Overall No. 1” questions. As for a percentage, that’s an unknowable thing. If Barkley vs. McCaffrey were a prop, I’d consider it -140 McCaffrey, +130 Barkley; something like that. When it comes to ranking Barkley, obviously a very small group of other backs needs to be considered.

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Liz: TWENTY? If you need an exact percentage. Barkley is the No. 2 overall option just behind CMC. Does that mean that he’s a lock to finish as the best (or second-best) RB in fantasy? No, but his odds of delivering consistent top-end production are exceedingly high. The dude is an other-worldly talent in a single workhorse backfield being schemed by a run-loving OC. He is going to EAT.

While his overall 2019 numbers were negatively impacted by an early season high-ankle sprain, his week-to-week stats were astounding. From Weeks 7-16, after returning from injury, Barkley averaged over 112 total yards per week, posted 6 TDs, and finished inside the top-10 producers at the position four times over a nine-game span. That’s pretty close to what he did in 2018, a year in which he managed over 20 fantasy points per game. So, yeah, assuming he stays healthy … a top-two finish is certainly within his range of (highly) possible outcomes.

Darius Slayton had moments of brilliance as a rookie. Are you buying a breakout season, finishing inside WR25, or fading the hype?

Scott: I’m not just buying the Slayton hype, I’ve contributed to it. But you can still make a profit here. Last I checked, he was WR38 on Yahoo, WR41 on NFFC.

I don’t think we need to get binary on whether or not Slayton will finish inside the arbitrary WR25 line. The point is that he could plausibly do it, and he’s priced in such a reasonable area, well slotted for profit. The Auburn offense did a sneaky job of hiding Slayton’s potential, but the Giants quickly took the genie out of the bottle last year.

The potential crowding on the depth chart doesn’t bother me. Golden Tate steps into an age-32 season, and Sterling Shepherd and Evan Engram have missed chunks of time in their young careers. Slayton’s still learning the full route tree and might be extra boom/bust at a position that features plenty of that. But he’s still a target player for me, especially in Best Ball.

Liz: SHHHH. Can y’all please wait until August to start pushing Slayton’s stock upwards? Of course he’s going to smash in 2019. From a “one of these things is not like the other” POV, Slayton figures to work as the Giants’ biggest and best red-zone threat. He may not be a YAC monster like Tate or have Shepard’s footwork, but his size (6-foot-1 and 190 pounds), speed (4.39), and catch radius (95th percentile) allow him to dominate on the outside and succeed as a deep threat.

In 2018, despite his fifth-round draft pedigree, the Auburn product caught eight TDs in 9 starts, tying only Mecole Hardman for the most receiving scores over 20 yards last year with six. It’s possible that Engram eats into Slayton’s TD potential, but given Engram’s injury history (over three seasons as a pro and he has yet to complete a full 16-game campaign, coming off of an eight-game effort in 2019) I think Slayton has the advantage. He’s my WR35 and the Yahoo Consensus WR37.

Andy: It’s definitely in play for Slayton following a rookie season full of huge plays. He showcased stellar athletic traits during the pre-draft process (4.39-second 40, 40.5-inch vertical), and that athleticism definitely translated into on-field production. We should remember, however, that this team has an abundance of receiving threats and a still-developing QB. If Slayton can simply produce a solid consolidation year, delivering numbers similar to 2019, it would be a win. I’m much more interested in him in best-ball formats.

Daniel Jones was boom-or-bust as a rookie. Does he become more than a streaming option in 2020?

Liz: NO. First of all, the position is entirely too deep to draft Daniel Jones as anything more than a backup or QB2 (for my Super-Flex aficionados). Could he out-produce Aaron Rodgers? Sure … am I going to bank on that during my draft in late-July or mid-August? Nah. There’s no denying that he has a stable of capable options at his disposal, but Jason Garrett is also going to be his OC. That means a whole lot of running (DAL has been at least top-eight in team rushing attempts since 2016, which was when they drafted stud workhorse, Ezekiel Elliot), as indicated by new coach Joe Judge. Jones is likely to take a step forward in 2020 but I don’t think it’ll be enough to push him into the top-15 fantasy quarterbacks.

[2020 Draft Rankings: Overall | QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | DST | Kickers]

Andy: I mean, just look at the names at the skill spots in the graphic below. Barkley, Shepard, Tate, Slayton, Engram — those are some weapons, people. Jones had a sloppy first season, filled with turnovers and other misadventures, but he also produced five games with 300-plus passing yards and three with at least four passing TDs. It’s not crazy to think he can deliver a less-extreme version of a Jameis Winston season, jammed with highlights and lowlights — think 4,000 yards, 30 TDs, 30 turnovers. Let’s not forget he’s a capable runner, which boosts his fantasy floor. He clearly has the potential to emerge as a viable starting option for fantasy managers.

Scott: There’s definite carnival potential here, which Andy hinted at (Jameis Winston’s music will always be carnival music). Jones needs to tighten up the fumbles, and the early season schedule looks nasty (Steelers, Bears, Niners). After that, he’s approved for all audiences, even in most single-QB formats.

Giants projected 2020 lineup
Giants projected 2020 lineup


Liz: Hot Take and the Giants could not be more antithetical, but since this is 2020 anything is possible. How about Golden Tate being a total bust? He’s entering his age-31 season and suffered two known concussions last year (one in August and the other in November). As NY’s primary slot receiver, he’s also likely to see his volume threatened by pass-catching RB Dion Lewis. While he’s still a brand name who crushes after the catch and can be relied upon in clutch moments, his days of being a consistent fantasy contributor are behind him. He’s on the WR4/WR5 bubble for FF purposes.

OVER/UNDER on 6.5 Win Total from BetMGM

Scott: The juice leans to the under side (-164), which might make this unplayable. Given New York’s 2020 schedule, that’s the only logical way to lean. The early part of the slate looks nasty, and even the remainder of the schedule could be tricky; in some books, the Giants are favored just twice in their 15 posted games (Week 17 is ignored). I think Jason Garrett was a reasonable hire as offensive coordinator, but let’s give him some time to sort this out; same thing goes for first-time head coach Joe Judge. The juice pushes me away from the window, but UNDER is the only call I can make.

Follow Liz: @LizLoza_FF

Follow Scott: @scott_pianowski

Follow Andy: @AndyBehrens

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