New York Giants star running back Saquon Barkley has been medically cleared to play in Sunday's season-opening matchup versus the Denver Broncos, according to ESPN's Jordan Raanan.
Barkley, 24, tore his ACL during Week 2 of the 2020 season.
Having Barkley back for the start of the season is huge for the Giants. The 2018 Offensive Rookie of the Year didn't waste much time making his impact on the league, rushing for 1,307 yards and 11 touchdowns while adding 91 catches for 721 yards and another four scores.
He couldn't quite replicate that form in 2019, posting 1,441 yards from scrimmage and eight total touchdowns, though injuries cost him three contests. And last year was a lost season after his knee injury ended it prematurely.
It's fair to question from a fantasy football perspective how Barkley will respond after such a serious injury. There were questions if he would even be healthy enough to play in Week 1.
Barkley had an average draft position of 7.9 in ESPN leagues this summer, so there's no question that the fantasy football community wasn't too concerned with any potential dip in form. He was drafted to be an RB1, and the expectation is justified given his past production.
"A lot of confidence in him as a player," offensive coordinator Jason Garrett told reporters this week. "I think he's done a great job to get himself back healthy and 100 percent."
Still, the Giants may not want to ride Barkley too hard in his first game back from injury. At least in Week 1, he very well could be in a timeshare with Devontae Booker and may be more apt to produce RB2 numbers.
The good news for fantasy players, however, is that he reportedly won't be on a predetermined pitch count:
Ryan Dunleavy @rydunleavy
I’m told <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Giants?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Giants</a> are not planning a pitch count for Saquon Barkley. Don’t count on his pre-injury count of 80 percent snaps but he’s not going in knowing with a predetermined limit of X touches or C snaps. Good for fantasy football owners <a href="https://t.co/xMr3UZap4S">https://t.co/xMr3UZap4S</a>
There's little doubt that he needs to be started in all formats. Just prepare for the possibility that he might not post otherworldly numbers in his first game back.