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The 2018 RB Final 4: (1) Saquon Barkley vs (4) Nick Chubb

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 (4) Nick Chubb

Matt Wispe – Saquon Barkley

Last round, I selected Kerryon Johnson to advance over Barkley largely because of 1.01 acquisition cost. With only a two- or three-pick separation between Chubb and Barkley, that argument is no longer valid. Chubb is still projecting as a Day 2 (potentially late) selection whereas Barkley appears to have solidified himself as a top-10 pick. Barkley is one of the few RBs in recent years that projects as a complete three-down RB whereas Chubb has serious question marks related to his receiving abilities. Barkley moves on to the championship round.

Dave Caban – Saquon Barkley

It pains me to not advance Chubb as he’s one of my favorite prospects of the entire class. However, every positive that can be said about him, can also be said about Barkley. In addition to having a slightly more amazing combine, Barkley proved himself to be the superior all-around back. With a higher floor and ceiling, it’s an easy win for Barkley, which speaks to just how special of a prospect he is.

Scott Smith – Saquon Barkley

I fully expect Saquon Barkley to be the 1.01 in 99 percent of drafts. Chubb should follow suit and be anywhere from 1.02 – 1.06 which closes the gap when considering acquisition cost. I think Chubb is one of the best pure runners in the draft. His freshman season showed what a lethal runner he can be, and his physicality and athleticism will translate well to the NFL. His combine proved that he is back to form and medicals would be the only thing that should hold him back. With that being said, Barkley is just better as an athlete and offers a more diverse skill set, especially in the passing game. While I love Chubb, Barkley may be the best RB prospect since LaDainian Tomlinson and for that reason I have to take Barkley.

Tim Talmadge – Saquon Barkley

Chubb is really fun player and one that I’m rooting for, but the chances are slim he ever outproduces Barkley.

Jordan Hoover – Saquon Barkley

There’s a lot to love about Chubb ranging from his early-career dominance to his superb physical profile. But Barkley is quite simply in a class of his own, especially given the fact that the gap in rookie ADP between the two is just two picks according to DLF. But again, if you end up with the 1.02-1.04, do not hesitate to take Chubb.

Hasan Rahim – Saquon Barkley

Chubb is ostensibly the stiffest competition Barkley has had to face this tournament. He broke out at a younger age than Barkley and has a stellar production history. However, Barkley is a far superior RB. Barkley’s 54 receptions in 2017 dwarf Chubb’s 31 total career receptions. Additionally, Barkley proved to be more than capable on special teams. In 2017 Barkley returned 15 kick for 426 yards and two TDs, highlighting his big play potential. Given that both players project to be top-3 picks in rookie drafts, Barkley safely represents the option with the highest floor and ceiling.

Shawn Siegele – Saquon Barkley

Even after Chubb answered so many questions at the combine, it’s a worry that he so rarely looked like the best player on his team last year.1 This isn’t quite an Alabama situation where scouts try to force a not-that-athletic and not-the-best-player-on-his-own-team guy on us as a legitimate star.2 This isn’t that. But Chubb also isn’t Barkley.

John Lapinski – Saquon Barkley

It’s fair to ask, what will it take to beat Barkley? When you have a prospect with such an unimpeachable resume, it’s hard to make a strong case for anyone else. As mentioned in his last matchup, Barkley set a new standard in RotoViz’s RB Prospect Lab, beating out every other guy in the database. The next highest players in the class were Derrius Guice and Rashaad Penny, but neither of their scores come close, nor would they even be the top RBs in other recent classes. Chubb is a good prospect, but not good enough or cheap enough to close the gap.

Ryan Bobbitt – Saquon Barkley

Barkley came to the RotoViz lab to chew bubblegum and break our models, and he’s all out of bubblegum. Chubb is a worthy pick in the middle of the first round of rookie drafts but Barkley’s comparables are too good for the cost difference to overcome.

Blair Andrews – Nick Chubb

This is a pure equity play. Barkley is clearly the better prospect and is probably worth the extra cost. But in the (maybe not as unlikely as you think) event that he doesn’t become a better NFL or fantasy RB than Chubb, I’ll look like a genius.

Cort Smith – Saquon Barkley

While it’s shaping up to be an excellent RB class, all of the prospects have at least one hole in their resume worth mentioning. Barkley has none to speak of, and Chubb isn’t cheap enough to knock him off the perch.

Anthony Amico – Saquon Barkley

Can we just cut to the end where Barkley wins this thing?

Final Result?

While Chubb’s fantastic freshman season put him on a trajectory to make this a close matchup, his catastrophic injury and workload split make this no contest. Barkley is the most complete RB in the entire draft class, and an obvious selection at the 1.01. He will move on to the championship round, where I expect him to take it down.

  1. Sony Michel scored more TDs, D’Andre Swift caught four times as many passes, both had more than a yard gap in yards per carry.  (back)
  2. I like Chubb a lot, lot better than I did guys like Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon.  (back)

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