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3 Running Backs the New York Giants Should Target While Saquon Barkley is Out

New York Giants

The young Giants phenom, Saquon Barkley, will miss four to six weeks while rehabbing a high ankle sprain.

Considering Barkley is such an integral part of New York’s offense, it will be nigh impossible to completely replace that production. But backup Wayne Gallman is probably not enough of a safety blanket to take the pressure off of their newest first-round selection, Daniel Jones.

With Barkley out, let’s look at some possible replacements the Giants could feasibly use in his absence.

Kenyan Drake

The Miami Dolphins are having a fire sale. In an attempt to tank for more picks, they have already traded away Laramie Tunsil, Kenny Stills and Minkah Fitzpatrick.

The next shoe to drop may be running back Kenyan Drake, whose value is not top-tier, but who still provides some production. Missing one of the best and most exciting young running backs in the league, the Giants could use some of that production.

New York Giants
Kenyan Drake is on the trade block thanks to Miami’s current state of affairs. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Drake has rushed only 22 times in three games, for a total of 69 yards. This makes sense, as the Dolphins are not necessarily trying to have him explode for big runs and yardage that could interrupt the tank. It is curious, however, that they do not feature him more if they are attempting to show his trade value.

Also a threat in the passing game, Drake has hauled in 10 receptions for 78 yards. As Barkley was also heavily featured in the passing attack, this could be a good fit for Drake. He has produced six receiving touchdowns for 840 yards since his debut in 2016. Only three less than his career total for rushing touchdowns.

Producing no touchdowns on the season and one fumble, the Giants could potentially buy low here. But, considering the Giants are also in a transitional period where every pick matters, it is unclear what they would be willing to give up.

Regardless, Drake would serve well in patching the hole left by Barkley until his return.

To read about other potential players the Dolphins could trade to continue to position themselves well in the upcoming NFL Drafts, click here.

C.J. Anderson

Detroit released veteran running back C.J. Anderson prior to their third game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

In his two games with Detroit, Anderson had 16 rushes for 43 yards and no touchdowns. He also was not targeted once in the passing game. Clearly he was not a fit in the system, and did not produce much behind Kerryon Johnson.

C.J. Anderson is a six year veteran with two Super Bowl appearances under his belt. He won Super Bowl 50 with the Broncos and played in Super Bowl 53 with the Los Angeles Rams. In his career he has almost 3,500 yards rushing and has been viable in the passing game with 900 yards receiving. He has bowled his way to 27 total touchdowns, and has only fumbled the ball four times.

He also has recent experience in filling in for backs who are not producing. When Todd Gurley was struggling with an enigmatic knee issue, Anderson filled in as a featured back during the Rams’ Super Bowl run.

The main concern for the Giants is his injury history. Anderson has never played all 16 games of a season. He has had multiple knee issues, a concussion, a foot injury and an ankle sprain throughout his career. But, considering he is a free agent, New York could sign him for minimal pay and lose next to nothing if he does not pan out.

If the Giants want a veteran back with winning experience, Anderson is worth exploring at the very least.

Jay Ajayi

Ajayi is another intriguing free agent the Giants could sign as a stop-gap.

Similar to Anderson, Ajayi has Super Bowl experience but comes with injury risk. After being traded to the Eagles in 2017, Ajayi was a big part of the Philadelphia offense that won them Super Bowl 52 against the New England Patriots.

New York Giants
If Ajayi can stay injury-free he could be a good addition to the Giants. (Photo by Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports)

In 2018, he tore his ACL and was placed on injured reserve, never to return to the field. Now a free agent, Ajayi could fill in for Barkley as long as he stays healthy.

With over 2,500 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground since coming into the league in 2015, Ajayi can clearly produce. Although, he is not as big of a threat through the air, amassing only 419 yards and one touchdown in his career. That could be a problem, as the Giants’ offense likes to feed its RBs in every way possible.

With two ACL tears, he is at high risk to also fall to injury. But, again, being a free agent means the Giants would not have to give up any picks or players to get him. It could be another win-win if he stays healthy.

 

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