Selected second overall in the 2018 draft, Barkley lived up to the expectations, rushing for 1,307 yards (second most in NFL) and 11 touchdowns on 261 carries, and catching 91 passes (tying Odell Beckham Jr. for most for a Giants rookie in team history) for 721 yards and four touchdowns. Barkley was a human highlight reel, running through, around and leaping over defenders all season while finishing with the most scrimmage yards (2,028) in the NFL. Arguably no one was more important to his team than Barkley was to the Giants.
His play was a welcome sight for a Giants team that again battled through key injuries and struggled mightily early due in part to a porous offensive line that saw its starting tackle benched in Week 3. His 352 touches were the second most in the NFL, underscoring his importance to the Giants, who saw Eli Manning overcome early issues to post a respectable 92.4 passer rating.
Barkley's scrimmage yards total was the third most from a rookie in NFL history, trailing only Eric Dickerson (2,212) and Edgerrin James (2,139) in that category. Barkley also caught more passes (91) than any rookie running back in NFL history, besting Reggie Bush's mark of 88 from his rookie season in New Orleans. His 1,307 yards and 721 receiving yards made him one of only two players in the NFL with 1,000-plus rushing yards and 700-plus receiving yards (Carolina's Christian McCaffrey was the other).
Barkley beat out Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield for the honor. Barkley amassed 26.5 votes to Mayfield's 21.5 votes. Mayfield also finished second to Barkley in voting in the Pepsi Rookie of the Year fan voting in an award announced earlier in the week after the quarterback set a new rookie passing touchdown record with 27 in just 13 1/2 games.