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The 2018 RB Elite 8: (1) Saquon Barkley vs (8) Kerryon Johnson

The RotoViz Running Back Prospect Sweet 16 Tournament matches the top incoming prospects in a head-to-head March Madness style format. Various RotoViz writers break down each matchup with the winner moving on to the next round.


Let’s get into today’s matchup!

(1) Saquon Barkley vs (8) Kerryon Johnson

Anthony Amico – Saquon Barkley

In the latest update of my RB prospect model, Barkley was the top projected player by almost 70 points. He is projected for over 100 points more than Johnson. Yes, there is a massive difference in price here, with Barkley going inside of the first round of current dynasty startups, but it is well worth it in this matchup.

Blair Andrews – Saquon Barkley

Did you know Barkley has a higher Freak Score than any 2018 WR prospect who ran at the combine?

Jordan Hoover – Saquon Barkley

The difference in ADP (a full round in rookie drafts) makes this matchup interesting, but Barkley is simply the better prospect. Johnson is likely worth a second-round rookie pick, but his first-year Workhorse Score of 11.83 is troubling.

Cort Smith – Kerryon Johnson

Barkley is clearly the better back, but since Johnson is going to get bounced here, this is the last chance to plant a flag on a player who is being a little lost in a deep class. Johnson gets slagged for his non-elite YPC numbers, but he was very productive against tough SEC competition. He comes out fifth in Amico’s RB projections model with a score of 177, which is better than at least two guys who will be drafted ahead of him on rookie drafts – Nick Chubb (147.9) and Sony Michel (126.1).

Matt Wispe – Kerryon Johnson

Barkley appears to be a great prospect, but he’s arguably the most expensive player to acquire in years. The 1.01 isn’t acquirable, and he’s going to be almost impossible to trade for post-draft. Johnson out-rushed Barkley and had equal rushing TDs, but he’s much cheaper. With a decent landing spot, he appears ready to produce immediately. It might be blasphemy, but Johnson is the pick.

Scott Smith – Kerryon Johnson

Would you rather have Barkley or Alvin Kamara and Johnson? That was the position I find myself in when looking at this matchup. I have traded Barkley for Kamara and the 2.01 in a league already. Other ransoms I have heard are even higher. It’s tough to gauge if Barkley will ever fulfill the hype he has garnered. Anyone dealing for Barkley right now is trading in the currency known as hope. Anything short of Le’Veon Bell, David Johnson or Todd Gurley type production will be a disappointment. There is something to be said for having elite performers in the age of RBBC, but there is a lot left in this equation that we simply do not know yet. I won’t argue that Barkley is the best RB prospect in a long long time, but I also think he can be more valuable as a tradable commodity to a dynasty team building from the 1.1 spot. Reluctantly give me Johnson due only to acquisition cost.

Ryan Bobbitt – Saquon Barkley

Barkley breaks every model and app we put him in, and the cost to acquire him keeps rising. Johnson is much cheaper and a nice pick in the late first of rookie drafts, but Barkley may simply be “that good” with the combination of draft capital and our own metrics.

Hasan Rahim – Saquon Barkley

If you’re looking to acquire the 1.01, best of luck. As others have pointed out, acquiring the 1.01 is an incredibly expensive proposition. Both Barkley and Johnson broke out at young ages; however, given Barkley’s superior talents in the passing game, I have to give him the nod here. Not only is Barkley one of the highest-floor RB prospects in recent memory, he’s also one with a tantalizing ceiling.

Dave Caban – Saquon Barkley

I don’t care how expensive he is. His floor is high enough that I’m willing to take it. I haven’t felt this comfortable with a prospect’s likelihood of success ever. Johnson has a number of positives, but not enough to overcome a matchup with a demigod.

Shawn Siegele – Saquon Barkley

Impressive recent RBs like Gurley, Ezekiel Elliott, and Leonard Fournette weren’t even in the same stratosphere as prospects.

John Lapinski – Saquon Barkley

While the cost for Barkley is certainly astronomical, so is his ceiling. Every metric we have to measure RB prospects points to him being a fantasy superstar in the NFL. He broke the RB Prospect Lab with the highest score ever, exceeding guys like LaDainian Tomlinson. With his pass-catching ability, he’s about as sure of a bet as you can get for a prospect.

Final Result

Barkley is perhaps the most expensive 1.01 selection of the past decade, and winning this matchup at that price tag just speaks to his level of dominance and our expectations for him at the next level. Even the writers who chose Johnson were admittedly doing so based on price. Barkley is an insanely talented prospect and moves on to face the winner of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel in the next round.

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