Antonio Gibson’s Fantasy Outlook 2021: Will he finish season as an RB1?

Antonio Gibson had an impressive rookie season, but should fantasy managers select him at his ADP with his current fantasy outlook in 2021?

Can the Washington Football Team successfully build on Antonio Gibson’s exceptional rookie season? The former third-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft began to take over Washington’s backfield by midseason. The former Memphis wide receiver is motivated to prove that he’s not a flash in the pan. So is Gibson worth targeting in fantasy football? This article will provide a fantasy outlook on Gibson for 2021 and whether he is a value at his current ADP or not.

Antonio Gibson’s fantasy outlook for 2021

Gibson will enter this NFL season as the frontrunner to lead Washington’s backfield. The team currently has six running backs on the roster. This group includes J.D. McKissic, Peyton Barber, and Lamar Miller. None of them, however, are serious threats to Gibson’s opportunity share.

Gibson led all rookies with 11 rushing touchdowns and finished fifth in rushing yards with 795. He also averaged 4.7 rushing yards per attempt.

Last season, Gibson only played 43% of the team’s offensive snaps. But did you know that he was provided 10 or more opportunities (rushing attempts plus targets) in 12 out of 14 active games in 2020? In three games, Gibson earned 20+ opportunities. He finished as an RB1 in PPR formats in two of those three games. It gets better when you review some of the other offseason changes that Washington has made.

Washington’s offense will be more multi-dimensional

Washington made some key offensive additions this offseason. They added wide receivers Curtis Samuel, Dyami Brown, and Adam Humphries. Samuel is coming off of a career season and is now reunited with former college teammate Terry McLaurin. He finished as a WR2 or better in 47% of his games in PPR formats. And on top of that, Washington’s offense will lean more on the passing game.

Washington ranked 25th last season in passing yards (220.8) and 25th in points scored (21) per game. McLaurin was the only receiver on the team to exceed 1,000 or more receiving yards.

Head coach Ron Rivera and offensive coordinator Scott Turner will lean heavily on the passing game with new quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick has finished as a QB1 in 47% of his active games since 2017. Let me tell you how these developments benefit Gibson in 2021.

Antonio Gibson’s ability as a receiver is underrated

Gibson is expected to be used more as a receiver in Washington’s passing attack. Running backs coach Randy Jordan and the other offensive coaches are confident that he can maximize the additional targets. As a reminder, Gibson accumulated 44 receptions for 834 yards and 10 touchdowns in two seasons with Memphis. He had more receptions than rushing attempts (33) in 19 collegiate games.

Gibson has the frame, agility, and play speed to make cornerbacks and safeties look silly. Furthermore, he demonstrated last season he’s very good at running the football. Gibson had 8 rushing attempts last season of 15 or more yards.

Concurrently, McKissic finished the year with 106 targets and led Washington in receptions. I know what you’re thinking. Can Gibson siphon off those targets from McKissic? I believe he can. Gibson finished last season with higher yards after the catch per reception. He also caught a higher percentage of his catchable targets than McKissic.

Using his 6’2″ and 220-pound frame, Gibson’s pass protection improved as last season progressed. The stars are aligning for him to be an every-down player this season and make a big jump. It gets even better when you look at Washington’s offensive line.

Washington offensive line could be even better this season

Washington will rely on three new starters in 2021 on their offensive line. In fact, the left side of the offensive line has been completely redone. Washington’s line was a pleasant surprise last season and a solid run-blocking unit. They should have another solid unit and even better depth in 2021.

This is another feather in the cap for Gibson — an RB1 finish in 2021 isn’t out of the question.

Antonio Gibson’s fantasy projection

Gibson finished as the RB13 last season in PPR formats. He ranked 12th among running backs with an average of 0.94 fantasy points per opportunity. Gibson is in a good position to see a Christian McCaffrey-like opportunity share in Washington this season. Before coming to Washington to be the team’s offensive coordinator, Turner served as the Carolina Panthers quarterbacks coach from 2018-2019. Norv Turner, Scott’s father, was the play caller in Carolina during that time frame.

McCaffrey led all running backs those two seasons with 773 opportunities. He played 92% of the offensive snaps during that span of time. A reasonable floor for Gibson is around 300 opportunities, but his ceiling could be much higher in 2021. Gibson could total nearly 1,200 total yards and score 12 touchdowns. Therefore, Gibson can comfortably be viewed as a high-end RB2 in PPR formats.

Should you draft Antonio Gibson at his ADP in 2021?

Absolutely! I’m comfortable selecting Gibson at his current ADP at the top of the second round (ADP is according to data from Fantasy Football Calculator for 12-team leagues in PPR formats).

This trend is also similar in pay-to-play fantasy formats such as the National Fantasy Championship, where Gibson has an ADP of 19.52 as the RB12 overall. His ADP in PPR formats on Sleeper is 28. Gibson’s ADP should stay steady leading up to the start of the regular season.

Eric is a Senior Fantasy Analyst for Pro Football Network and a member of the FSWA (Fantasy Sports Writers Association). You can read more of his work here and follow Eric on Twitter @EricNMoody.

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