Hey, New York Giants: You must not want to win.
That's the only rationale I can muster in trying to explain why Saquon Barkley had a measly (and career-low) 15 -- 15! -- touches in Big Blue's Week 1 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
It's not like the Cowboys immediately bottled up the reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year. On his first carry of the season, Barkley exploded through a hole up the middle for a 59-yard gain to put the Giants in good position to get on the board first (which they did, on an Eli Manning touchdown pass to Evan Engram). Then ...
Well, it sure seemed like crickets, considering the production we became accustomed to from Barkley in a rookie campaign that saw him rack up an NFL-best 2,028 yards from scrimmage. Barkley, the most sought-after player in most fantasy leagues due to his ability to dominate as a runner and receiver, touched the ball just 12 times after the opening drive. He finished the game with 11 carries for 120 yards (a whopping 10.9 yards per carry) and four catches for 19 yards. Now, he did commit the first fumble of his NFL career on the Giants' first play from scrimmage, but New York recovered the football and Barkley immediately followed the blunder with that massive run. So I'd be shocked if this was why his touches were limited in the 35-17 defeat to a division rival.
Some will argue that Barkley didn't see his normal workload because the Giants were playing from behind for most of the game, and I get that. But Barkley is far and away the team's most talented player. And as I mentioned above, he's a terror in both the running and passing games. Barkley racked up 91 catches for 721 yards and four scores last season. So even when the Giants need to take to the air in comeback mode, No. 26 is more than capable as a pass catcher. But on Sunday, the G-Men seemed to forget this.
According to Next Gen Stats, Barkley touched the ball on just 28.3 percent of his offensive snaps. To put this into perspective, Barkley touched the ball on 42.8 percent of his offensive snaps in 2018, when he authored one of the most impressive rookie campaigns by a running back in the history of the NFL. Elsewhere in the league in Week 1, Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey touched the ball on 45.3 percent of his offensive snaps. Dallas RB Ezekiel Elliott recorded a touch on 41.4 percent of his offensive snaps -- and he showed up to the Cowboys facilities four days before the season opener! If anything, Saquon and Zeke's touch percentages should have been swapped.