Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard Fantasy Stock After Odell Beckham Trade Report

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMarch 13, 2019

NFC running back Saquon Barkley is seen at the Pro Bowl Skills Challenge, Wednesday, January 23, 2019, in Kissimmee, FL. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan)
Gregory Payan/Associated Press

Running back Saquon Barkley isn't going to have much help during the 2019 season. 

The New York Giants reportedly traded wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for a first- and third-round pick in the 2019 draft and safety Jabrill Peppers, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.

That could spell fantasy football trouble for Barkley.

While one could argue he will have even more carries with the Giants' clear No. 1 receiver no longer on the roster, Beckham was also the one who prevented opposing defenses from committing even more defenders to the box to stop the talented running back in 2018. With No. 13 no longer on the outside, Barkley will face even more crowded running lanes in 2019.

That is a problem since he is already playing behind one of the league's worst offensive lines that Football Outsiders ranked as the 29th-best run-blocking unit in the league last year.

It is a testament to Barkley's individual brilliance that he was a top-notch weapon for fantasy players as the 2018 Offensive Rookie of the Year even with that offensive line. He finished the season with 1,307 rushing yards, 721 receiving yards and 15 total touchdowns, benefitting at times from Beckham's presence and the attention he attracted.

Natalie Weiner @natalieweiner

the correct takeaway is definitely "poor saquon" and also "poor all of us who won't get to watch saquon flourish in his prime"


live look at Saquon Barkley in New York https://t.co/lOVfqpdG1a

Mike Golic Jr @MGolicJR57

I feel so bad for Saquon.

SB Nation @SBNation

The 2019 Browns: QB: Baker Mayfield RB: Nick Chubb TE: David Njoku WR: Jarvis Landry WR: Odell Beckham Jr The 2019 Giants: QB: Eli Manning RB: Saquon Barkley TE: Saquon Barkley WR: Saquon Barkley WR: guess who Saquon Barkley

Barkley is still a first-round draft pick in fantasy circles as a versatile playmaker who can carry the team on the ground and through the air, but his ceiling is lowered without Beckham there to take some of the defensive focus away from him.

Sterling Shepard's ceiling is not lower, though, as he becomes the team's No. 1 receiver.

Shepard tallied 66 catches for 872 yards and four touchdowns on 107 targets last season, with the catches, targets and yardage totals all marking career highs. He also impressed at times during the final four games of the 2018 campaign when Beckham was sidelined, surpassing 100 yards in one game and scoring in another while posting 31 combined targets.

He surpassed the century mark only once in the 12 games Beckham did play.

New York is going to have to spread some of Beckham's targets around, and Shepard figures to be the primary beneficiary of that from a fantasy standpoint. Look for him to set career-highs across the board as a go-to option after playing well in 2018 alongside the newest Browns playmaker.