The New York Giants offense suffered a devastating loss on Sunday when Pro Bowl running back Saquon Barkley went down with an apparent knee injury. While we are unaware of the extent of Barkley’s injury, the fact that the former NFL Rookie of the Year was ruled out of the game just mere minutes after leaving the field likely doesn’t bode well for his playing status moving forward.
While the G-Men have been stripped of their top offensive playmaker, numerous fantasy football owners are left scraping for answers with the looming loss of their first-round draft pick. Could either one of Barkley’s backups, Dion Lewis or Wayne Gallman, prove to be viable replacements if needed? Let’s take a look.
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Fantasy Stock Watch: Which Giants RB Should You Target?
Dion Lewis will almost certainly be the first player Barkley owners target this week and a likely top-waiver wire add across the board. Lewis has served as Barkley’s primary backup since arriving from the Tennessee Titans this offseason. He manned a sizeable workload on the ground in Week 2 following Barkley’s injury, toting the rock eight times between the start of the second quarter and the Giants’ first drive of the second half. However, much like Barkley in the opening weekend, Lewis failed to muster up much production, averaging just 2.0 yards per carry vs. Chicago.
With that said, despite his diminutive size, Lewis has proven to be a viable in-between the tackle runner over his career, averaging a respectable 4.3 yards per carry over his first seven NFL seasons. The biggest drawback is Lewis’ lack of finding the endzone. Even with a touchdown vs. the Bears, the veteran running back has scored just two rushing touchdown over his last 33 games.
Still, with four receptions for 36 yards in three quarters of play on Sunday, Lewis showed the type of factor he can play in PPR-scoring lineups moving forward.
Many will overlook Wayne Gallman as a viable replacement to Barkley in their lineups for the simple fact that he was a healthy scratch on Sunday. Don’t fall into that trap. A cut candidate earlier this offseason, Gallman quickly won over the new coaching staff in New York, earning rave reviews from head coach Joe Judge.
The former Clemson star has proven able to carry the workload for fantasy owners in Barkley’s absence in the past, most notably back in Week 3 of last season. Gallman totaled 118 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns vs. Washington with Barkley on the mend due to a high-ankle sprain. Gallman finished with the fifth-highest scoring output amongst RBs that week with a 27.8 point output.
Furthermore, Gallman is a player who received 48 targets through the air over his 13-game rookie campaign back in 2017 and has 60 receptions over his 39-game career.
While both players present solid upside were Barkley to miss an extended period of time, their next two matchups are far less than welcoming. The Giants are set to face off against two top-15 defensive units from a season ago in terms of points surrendered to opposing RBs, including a 49ers unit who allowed the third-fewest points to the position. There’s also a Week 6 game on the docket against a Washington defense that held Eagles RBs to just 54 combined rushing yards and 11.6 fantasy points amongst their three leading rushers back in Week 1.
With the Giants looking the way they have, your likely best served to steer clear of their skill players, aside from maybe Evan Engram and Darius Slayton. This is especially true with matchups against the 49ers, Rams and Cowboys within the next three weeks.
The one benefit that both Gallman and Lewis have is they are more than capable in the passing game, which could bode well for their prospects as a flex play in PPR-scoring formats, as the team will likely be battling back from behind more times than not over the next month.
Both players are worth an add, as is every running back presented with an added usage rate. Both Gallman and Lewis are flyer flex plays heading into Week 3, with Lewis the more sure thing. However, if you’re looking for RB1 production to replace your first-round pick, you likely won’t find it running behind the Giants’ current offensive line.