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Saquon Barkley vs. Bijan Robinson: Fantasy football showdown

We go over the fantasy football outlooks of Saquon Barkley and Bijan Robinson and pick who we’d draft first.

Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) looks on during warmups before a wild card game against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

As the fantasy season inches closer and managers prepare for their upcoming drafts, the running back position remains an all-too-valuable roster spot to fill, despite what the ongoing conversation in the NFL may be. But when presented with the opportunity to choose your RB1, it begs the question of whether you should go with an absolute workhorse, or instead, opt for someone that could see an extended role for the long haul of the season.

In this scenario, we’re stacking up one of the league’s veteran running backs against a potential future star that is just entering the league.

Saquon Barkley, New York Giants

Barkley is arguably the more proven player when comparing the two, and while he has five seasons' worth of wear and tear on him, he’s coming off a Comeback Player of the Year campaign in which he ran for 1,312 yards and 10 touchdowns with an average of 4.4 yards per attempt. He also added 57 receptions for 338 yards through the air in 2022.

While Robinson has the advantage of youth on his side, there are arguably more mouths to feed in Atlanta when accounting for Drake London and Kyle Pitts. Conversely, Barkley enters the door as the primary offensive weapon for New York, as not even newly acquired tight end Darren Waller can challenge him for that title.

Bijan Robinson, Atlanta Falcons

Given that Robinson boasts a “do-it-all” skillset, it’s clear why so many fantasy players are putting him in the same sphere as Barkley so early into his career. The former Texas product finished with the fourth-most rushing yards (3,410) in program history and avoided 113 tackles last season alone. That mark equates to the most tackles avoided by any FBS player over the past five years.

He also finished his collegiate career with 60 receptions for 805 receiving yards and eight touchdowns, highlighting his ability to be a key player in PPR fantasy leagues. The true question ahead is whether head coach Arthur Smith is comfortable with Robinson being a workhorse so early into his career, as he’ll likely share snaps with Cordarrelle Patterson and Tyler Allgeier in the backfield.

Fantasy football verdict

Despite Robinson’s immense upside in the long-term, fantasy managers should choose the more secure and proven product in Barkley. The Giants tailback is the number one option on offense, while Robinson joins a crowded backfield that includes Patterson and Allgeier, and for reference, he’s already been listed as RB3 on the team’s initial depth chart (perhaps signaling he has to earn his keep as a rookie).