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Game-By-Game Projections: Saquon Barkley (2020 Fantasy Football)

by Raju Byfield | @FantasyContext | Featured Writer
Jun 28, 2020

Saquon Barkley took a step back in his sophomore season but appears primed to bounce back in a major way.

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Widely viewed as the most talented running back in the entire NFL, Saquon Barkley will be looking to have a bounce back season and improve on his tremendous rookie production. The addition of tackle Andrew Thomas provides a massive boost to the New York Giants offensive line. He is at his best when acting as a mauler in the run game, and should help boost Saquon’s sometimes maddening success rate issues. Daniel Jones taking a step in his development thanks to a healthy pass catching corps should also help to open up some running lanes. Barkley was the RB10 with 218.1 total fantasy points, and the RB6 with 16.8 fantasy points per game in 2019, and appears to have all the variables in place to vastly improve on those numbers in 2020. Let’s take a look at our projections to see by how much. 

You can find our entire 2020 Player Game-By-Game Projection series here.

Week 1: New York Giants vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Daniel Jones and the New York Giants will be looking to lean on Saquon Barkley as much as possible in this contest. He is projected to see 18 carries as well as a 25 percent target share (11 targets). 200 yards from scrimmage equates to starting the season with a bang, something fantasy managers will be very excited about. Barkley will rip off at least one 20 yard run in this contest but may be three yards and a cloud of dust on most of his other carries. 

Predicted stat line: 18 rushing attempts, 90 rushing yards, eight receptions, 111 receiving yards, one receiving touchdown (30.1 fantasy points)


Week 2: New York Giants @ Chicago Bears
Despite being on the road, this is the only matchup all season that the New York Giants will be projected to win comfortably. The pass rush will still be a problem for the Giants to contain, making Saquon the focal point of both the running and passing games for the second straight week. 200 yards from scrimmage for the second straight week will be music to the ears of Saquon’s fantasy managers. 

Predicted stat line: 25 rushing attempts, 128 rushing yards, five receptions, 75 receiving yards, one receiving touchdown (28.8 fantasy points)


Week 3: New York Giants vs. San Francisco 49ers
The New York Giants are going to have a difficult time getting anything going against the San Francisco 49ers’ defense. Saquon Barkley has been a big-play running back who sometimes struggles with his other carries in any given game, and this contest projects to be much the same. He should find a lane or two but should be held in check on the majority of his carries. San Francisco will focus the majority of their defensive energy scheming to force players other than Saquon to beat them. 

Predicted stat line: 13 rushing attempts, 61 rushing yards, four receptions, 50 receiving yards (13.1 fantasy points)


Week 4: New York Giants @ Los Angeles Rams
Saquon may have a tough time banging between the tackles in this contest but should find success when testing the edge. While Aaron Donald is still arguably the most talented player in the NFL, outside of Jalen Ramsey and Taylor Rapp, the rest of the Rams defense is not very inspiring. Handoffs and dump-offs should be the order of the day as the skittish Daniel Jones looks to get the ball out of his hands quickly to avoid the almost instantaneous pressure Aaron Donald will be able to create when the Rams line four up at or near the line of scrimmage. 

Predicted stat line: 18 rushing attempts, 114 rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns; six receptions, 79 receiving yards (34.3 fantasy points)


Week 5: New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys defensive front should be improved this year, but there are still a lot of question marks in the secondary. This combined with the projected game flow should keep Saquon’s carries to the 15-17 range, but he should be able to find the edge multiple times in the red zone. Despite the projected four score outing, New York is expected to lose this contest. Saquon’s 47 projected points for Week 5 figures to be his high watermark of the season.

Predicted stat line: 16 rushing attempts, 137 rushing yards, three rushing touchdowns; five receptions, 68 receiving yards, one receiving touchdown (47 fantasy points)


Week 6: New York Giants vs. Washington
Saquon Barkley, like most running backs in the NFL, is going to be in for a tough day at the office against Washington’s defensive line. Already one of the more talented units in the league, adding Chase Young makes the talent of their front four unfair. Saquon should be good for one 15+ yard run, but could very well be held in check for the rest of the afternoon. The projected receiving production will help to salvage his final fantasy line, but this matchup will make it clear that Washington is a run defense to avoid when possible. 

Predicted stat line: 17 rushing attempts, 55 rushing yards, four receptions, 53 receiving yards, one receiving touchdown (18.8 fantasy points)


Week 7: New York Giants @ Philadelphia Eagles
The Philadelphia Eagles defense is a parody of what it has been in years past. While it may be an upgrade on the group of misfits they deployed in 2019, make no mistake, outside of Darius Slay and the edge rushers, there are more questions than answers on this defense. Saquon should have a high volume day regardless of the game script with the Giants expected to lean on both the run and the short passing game. As you can see from our projections thus far, Saquon is expected to have some massive outings early in the season. 

Predicted stat line: 22 rushing attempts, 119 rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns; five receptions, 55 receiving yards (31.9 fantasy points)


Week 8: New York Giants vs.Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers represent one of the toughest run defenses the New York Giants will face all season. They were terrific last season, and only figure to get better with a healthy Devin White entering his second year in the league. Second-round safety Antoine Winfield Jr. is also capable of making stops in the backfield and provides a boost to an already elite run defense. Barkley may not get much going on the ground but should be one of the Giants leading receivers due to Daniel Jones looking to get the ball out of his hands quickly. 

Predicted stat line: 15 rushing attempts, 59 rushing yards, six receptions, 88 receiving yards, one receiving touchdown (23.7 fantasy points)


Week 9: New York Giants @ Washington
Week 9 should be another tough contest for Saquon Barkley. Washington will be able to make defensive adjustments based off their first meeting of the year and should be able to bottle up Saquon for most of the day. Washington’s offense should be humming along by Week 9 and should open as home favorites for this contest. Projected game flow and the opposition are not in Barkley’s favor this week.

Predicted stat line: 14 rushing attempts, 42 rushing yards, four receptions, 26 receiving yards (8.8 fantasy points)


Week 10: New York Giants vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Saquon should have a nice bounce back in Week 10 against the Philadelphia Eagles. He should once again be leaned on as the focal point of the offense and should be able to rack up over 120 yards from scrimmage with at least one score. We have him projected to score two of the Giants three touchdowns in this contest, with a total stat line that will lead to yet another 30 point fantasy outing.

Predicted stat line: 21 rushing attempts, 110 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown; six receptions, 52 receiving yards, one receiving touchdown (31.2 fantasy points)


Week 12: New York Giants @ Cincinnati Bengals
This contest will be billed as a battle between Daniel Jones and Joe Burrow, but will quickly turn into the Saquon Barkley vs. Joe Mixon show. Saquon should get the better of the battle if only because the Bengals have other playmakers to rely on. New York should have some success moving the ball against the Bengals through the air, but Barkley will be too productive to limit. It is going to be tough for Saquon to match this projected output for the rest of the season.

Predicted stat line: 26 rushing attempts, 162 rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns; eight receptions, 102 receiving yards (42.4 fantasy points)


Week 13: New York Giants @ Seattle Seahawks
The New York Giants are likely to have a tough time keeping pace with the Seattle Seahawks. This projected game script will limit Barkley’s rushing attempts. However, he should be able to rip off a long run or two and receive several touches inside the 10. He could have a much bigger day if Blake Martinez and the Giants defense can keep them in the game. 

Predicted stat line: 15 rushing attempts, 90 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown, five receptions, 41 receiving yards (21.6 fantasy points)


Week 14: New York Giants vs. Arizona Cardinals
Saquon should be in for a big game in Week 14. The Cardinals’ secondary and pass rush is good enough to force New York into a Saquon or bust gameplan. As strong as the Cardinals are projected to be against the pass, their run defense has some question marks. They could take a step forward if Leki Fotu and Rashard Lawrence can provide some run stopping juice, but containing a talent like Barkley may still be out of reach. 

Predicted stat line: 22 rushing attempts, 146 rushing yards, seven receptions, 77 receiving yards, one receiving touchdown (31.8 fantasy points)


Week 15: New York Giants vs. Cleveland Browns
The New York Giants will need to lean on Saquon Barkley to have a chance against a Cleveland Browns football team that will likely be fighting for a wild card spot. Cleveland will present the same challenges as Arizona did in Week 14 in terms of pass rush and secondary, which means that Saquon should see close to 20 carries and at least five receptions as the Giants make getting the ball out of Daniel Jones’ hands quickly a priority. Unless the Giants defense completely fails them against old friend Odell Beckham Jr. and co, New York should be competitive enough to keep leaning on the rushing attack as an option. 

Predicted stat line: 19 rushing attempts, 122 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown, six receptions, 59 receiving yards (27.1 fantasy points)


Week 16: New York Giants @ Baltimore Ravens
The New York Giants will likely be two-touchdown underdogs in this contest. Baltimore could up by three scores at the half, something that would negatively impact Saquon’s opportunities for carries. While he should be shut down on the 12-15 carries he does receive, he should be involved enough in the passing game to still have a solid enough fantasy outing so as to not knock his fantasy managers out of the finals. With that being said, the fact that Saquon will have to face Baltimore in Week 16 should be considered in redraft leagues. 

Predicted stat line: 15 rushing attempts, 35 rushing yards, eight receptions, 67 receiving yards (14.2 fantasy points)


Week 17: New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys
Even though the New York Giants are projected to be eliminated from playoff scenarios in Week 17, they should be highly motivated to stomp out any momentum the Cowboys may be looking to build ahead of the wildcard round. As has been the case for much of the season when the Giants have faced a strong pass rush, leaning on Barkley in both the running and passing games will be the order of the day. While this outing will not mean much to fantasy players in season redraft long leagues, Barkley may just be the elite chalk play of Week 17 DFS contests. 

Predicted stat line: 18 rushing attempts, 112 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown; seven receptions, 74 receiving yards (28.1 fantasy points)


2020 Season Totals

Full Season Projection: 294 carries, 1,582 rushing yards, 13 rushing touchdowns, 79 receptions, 1,077 receiving yards, seven receiving touchdowns (425.4 fantasy points) 

Saquon Barkley took a step back in his sophomore season but appears primed to bounce back in a major way. The offense is healthy, and Daniel Jones should be able to provide more consistency under center for the New York Giants. This will theoretically help loosen up boxes and keep defenses from exclusively scheming to stop Barkley on every play. The New York Giants selection of Andrew Thomas at fourth overall in the 2020 NFL Draft was a shrewd move that gives the New York Giants a franchise left tackle who is destined to make multiple Pro Bowls. He does have some technique issues to clean up as most rookie tackles do, but he is Pro Bowl ready in the run game. Saquon is going to love his new teammate. 

In 2019, Saquon Barkley put up 1,003 rushing yards and six touchdowns on 4.6 yards per carry. He played just 13 games, so his rushing yards per game still stood at a healthy enough 77.2 rushing yards per game, good for 10th in the league. However, as mentioned he was better in his rookie season when he averaged 81.7 rushing yards per game for a total of 1,307 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on 5.0 yards per carry. Despite projecting some down weeks, we have Barkley at 98.875 rushing yards per game for 2020. His projected total of 1,582 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns would both represent career highs. 

Saquon also took a step back in the passing game, at least from an involvement standpoint. After seeing 5.6785 receptions per game in 2018, he managed just four receptions per game in 2019. A lot of this had to do with target volume as he saw 7.5625 targets per game in 2018 versus just 5.615 per contest in 2019. He is projected to see over 115 targets in 2020, which at a very modest 68.89 percent catch rate (he averages a 73.71 percent catch rate for his career) would equate to 79 receptions. The yards per reception is where he is projected to make a major leap, as the Giants will be sure to use him in the slot and out wide more often to take advantage of his unique skill set. He is projected to better his career-high of 721 receiving yards (45.1 per game) by a whopping 356 receiving yards (22 yards per game).

The New York Giants are going to need to lean on Saquon Barkley in order to have any success this season. The road will be tough regardless, but if the Giants can implement more of a run-oriented, quick-strike rhythm offense, Daniel Jones can explode. They certainly have the personnel to do just that as Golden Tate, Sterling Shepard, and Evan Engram are all at their best in the middle of the field on short to intermediate passes. Golden Tate and Saquon can take on the line of scrimmage work, with Darius Slayton playing the role of the deeper route, big play, and play action threat. 

Saquon’s projected 294 carries, 1,582 rushing yards, 13 rushing touchdowns, 79 receptions, 1,077 receiving yards, and seven receiving touchdowns would equate to 425.4 fantasy points on the season. In 2019 this would have made him the RB1 by 12.2 fantasy points or 0.7625 fantasy points per game. Based on these projections, Saquon Barkley should be in a head to head battle with Christian McCaffrey for the RB1 title for most of the season. The receiving projection seems a bit lofty, but as Christian McCaffrey showed us last season, it is more than possible. Currently being drafted as the second overall player in single QB leagues, Saquon will likely need to be this good to meet his draft position in production.

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Raju Byfield is a featured writer for FantasyPros. For more from Raju, check out his archive and follow him @FantasyContext.

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