The question of is Saquon Barkley playing in Week 14 had not even crossed the mind of fantasy football managers at the start of the week. However, the New York Giants running back was a surprise addition to the injury report on Thursday as he was dealing with a neck issue.
Heading into Sunday, let’s look at the latest news regarding Barkley’s status for Week 14 and the fantasy impact on Barkley himself, as well as on Gary Brightwell and Matt Breida.
Is Saquon Barkley Playing Today?
As it stands on Sunday morning, it seems as though Barkley is a legitimate 50-50 proposal to play in Week 14. However, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport did report that Barkley was optimistic about playing. The running back was limited in practice on both Thursday and Friday, putting his status for this weekend in doubt. At the end of the week, Barkley was questionable on the New York Giants’ injury report.
The beat reporters shared footage of Barkley working out in drills on Friday, which appeared to be a positive sign. However, when head coach Brian Daboll spoke to the media, he did not appear overly optimistic that his star running back would be available this week. Daboll told reporters that Barklay’s neck was “a little sore” and that they have “probably got to see” if the running back could be active against the Eagles.
MORE: Week 14 Start/Sit Advice
It was fairly apparent on Friday that Barkley would be a game-time decision at best. Fortunately, the Giants game this week is a 1 pm ET kickoff, so at least we will know Barkley’s status reasonably early. However, even if he ends up active, there is a risk that Barkley could be a mid-game downgrade as he deals with his neck issue.
While a win this week would obviously be nice for the Giants, there is a bigger picture at play, including a game next week against the Washington Commanders that could be crucial for the Giants’ chance of making the playoffs. Losing Barkley at this stage of the season by risking him taking extended snaps with this neck injury could be extremely detrimental to the Giants’ long-term hopes for the 2022 NFL season.
Therefore, it would not be surprising if the Giants play it cautiously with Barkley in Week 14. That may mean that, even if he is active, we see him having a reduced number of touches as compared to his normal workload.
Fantasy Outlook for Barkley, Matt Breida, and Gary Brightwell in Week 14
This injury uncertainty for Barkley only adds to the confusion surrounding his fantasy value this week. While the Philadelphia Eagles have allowed the ninth most fantasy points to running backs in the last month (20.33 per game), they have been an inconsistent defense for opposing running backs to go against.
In the last three weeks, opposing backs have scored 18.6, 33.7, and 8.7 fantasy points against this Eagles’ defense. That is a wide range of potential outcomes for this backfield in Week 14.
In some ways, things will be easier for fantasy managers if Barkley is just inactive. If he suits up, it’s close to impossible not to put Barkley in your fantasy lineups. However, there is no guarantee that this match-up will be a prosperous one for the star running back.
MORE: Week 14 RB Rankings
If Barkley isn’t active, we should see a healthy dose of both Matt Breida and Gary Brightwell. That pairing is somewhat of an unknown in this Giants’ offense, with Breida having touched the ball just 43 times this year. Meanwhile, Brightwell has carried the ball nine times with just two targets to his name. Trusting either of them in fantasy lineups for this week is going to be extremely tough.
If you are playing on Underdog Fantasy in their Best Ball formats this week, then Barkley is an intriguing name on Sunday morning. The uncertainty over the injury will likely push his value down in those drafts. You may be able to get him at an extremely reduced price compared to what you would normally have to pay in those drafts.
It is a huge risk, but the reward of having Barkley on your roster if he does perform well is significant. Therefore he may be a player you target at a lower value in the hopes that he can suit up, find the end zone or break a big play during the game in Week 14.