New York Giants star Saquon Barkley is expected to be back no later than Week 3, according to a report from NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 6, 2021
As important as he is to the Giants offense, the coaching staff is opting for caution with the former No. 2 overall pick as he returns from a torn ACL. He remains on the Active/PUP list as he continues the latter stages of his rehab, though an earlier return to action hasn't yet been ruled out.
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- Saquon Barkley’s availability hasn’t altered the Week 1 betting line: The Giants' opening matchup in Denver has held to a +1 spread since initial lines were posted in May. If he is ruled out, expect little to no reaction from bookmakers.
- Giants are priced well below the betting favorites to win the NFC East: Barkley’s availability has an impact on the New York offense, but it won’t alter their division futures. It also shouldn’t have a significant impact on the outcome if he misses the first two weeks of the season. Daniel Jones making a leap in Year 3 is the only way the Giants will payoff at +450 division odds.
- Barkley is still a risky first-round pick: Barkley's absence will cap his value as an early pick, and when he returns, there’s an outside chance he might not immediately hit the 90%-plus snap counts we’re used to seeing.
- Much of the risk for Barkley could already be priced in: Barkley had already fallen in fantasy ADP over the last few months, once the third running back taken overall and now falling closer to RB10. There’s a chance Barkley’s lowered ADP already more than reflects the risks.
- The Giants RB can still be a league-winner this year: Early-season missed games are often the easiest to stomach for fantasy managers, who typically have a full complement of healthy players on the roster. Sitting Barkley on the bench for a week or two won’t seal your fate in most leagues.
- It’s going to be hard work for Barkley either way: Healthy or not, Barkley will have his work cut out for him this season, given the deficiencies along the Giants offensive line. PFF has ranked the unit dead last in the NFL heading into the season, making any back's task of generating yardage on the ground a daunting one.
- The pressure is piling on Daniel Jones: A poor offensive line and lack of rushing production are going to heap yet more pressure on Daniel Jones’ shoulders as he gets ready for a make-or-break season in New York. Jones may have actually become underrated at this stage. He improved his overall PFF grade by more than 10 points as a sophomore but has his back against the wall to keep improving, given the circumstances.
- Extra touches for Toney: The Giants may elect to get creative to generate rushing success without Barkley. News that rookie wideout Kadarius Toney is being used all over the formation in training camp is already circulating. His ability to create yards with the ball in his hands could come in handy with jet motions and end-arounds early in the season.