Can Saquon Barkley be best RB in NFL after huge Week 1?

New York Giants star running back Saquon Barkley had as good of a season debut as you could ask for. 

Barkley rushed for a whopping 164 yards on 18 carries and added six receptions for 30 yards, adding a touchdown and the game-winning two-point conversion in New York’s 21-20 victory over the Tennessee Titans

The 164 rushing yards were the most Barkley has rushed for since late in the 2019 season. While Sunday’s performance was the best the Giants running back has had in years, Barkley is healthy – which is a big part of the reason Shannon Sharpe believes he could be the best running back in the NFL.

“That’s been the only question about Saquon,” Sharpe said on Tuesday’s “Undisputed.” “You remember his rookie year, the only year he’s been healthy of his [previous four] years in the NFL? He had over 1,300 rushing yards, averaged over five yards per carry, had 2,000 yards from scrimmage and caught 91 passes.”

Barkley’s biggest play in Sunday’s game came early in the third quarter. With the Giants down 13 and with the ball at their 10-yard line, Barkley found the gap and ran down the sideline for a 68-yard rush to get New York in scoring position. The run was tied for the second-longest of Barkley’s career, and it also showed what he can do physically, according to Sharpe. 

“He can run for power,” Sharpe said. “We had him in here and saw the size of his legs, so he can run for power. We saw the breakaway speed that he displayed and he caught 91 passes as a rookie, which shows he can catch the ball out of the backfield.

“He’s a home run hitter. The only question was, ‘Can he stay healthy?’”

Sharpe believes Barkley’s in the running alongside the Colts’ Jonathan Taylor and the Titans’ Derrick Henry for the best running back in the league. However, Sharpe thinks what Barkley is able to do might be more impressive than what Taylor and Henry can. 

Saquon Barkley sparks Giants’ 21-20 comeback win over Titans

Saquon Barkley had 194 total yards plus a touchdown and the game-winning two-point conversion.

“He has the worst quarterback [among the three],” Sharpe said. “Everybody goes into the game and says ‘Daniel Jones can’t be throwing the football, so just stack the line.’ For him to be able to do what he did Sunday, given what he’s working with – and he doesn’t have the best offensive line, either. We know the type of line that Jonathan Taylor has and Tennessee has a better offensive line than what the Giants have.”

Skip Bayless, on the other hand, doesn’t view Barkley as highly. He said that Barkley is a “really good young man” but he doesn’t “love him as a running back.”

“He’s more of a cherry on top kind of a running back,” Bayless said. “He’s more the whipped cream than he is the cake. He’s more of a luxury back because, if you look hard at what he’s done against the Dallas Cowboys, you’ll see he’s not that guy. He’ll get loose once or twice a game, but that’s all it is, once or twice. 

“He’ll get the ball a whole bunch of other times that go nowhere fast. In the end, he can’t be a Derrick Henry or a Jonathan Taylor or even Ezekiel Elliott in his prime because he’s not a bell-cow type that can hammer you into oblivion, by just bashing your brains in at the middle of the line.”

Can a healthy Saquon Barkley be the best RB in the NFL?

Shannon Sharpe believes Barkley just needs to be healthy to be in the RB1 conversation, but Skip Bayless disagrees.

Through Week 1, Barkley holds a three-yard edge over Taylor for the most rushing yards in the league. Barkley’s Giants will face one of the league’s top running backs again in Week 2 when they host Christian McCaffrey and the Panthers

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