When fantasy football managers drafted Washington Football Team running back Antonio Gibson, they were likely hoping for more. Gibson certainly hasn’t been bad. He’s the RB17 in standard scoring and the RB15 in points per reception (PPR) formats. It’s just that his rookie season promised so much more. Gibson finished 2020 as the RB14 in standard scoring and RB13 in PPR, despite playing in just 14 games (suffered an injury after just 2 carries in one game). Gibson was a converted WR who stepped up to the NFL and took a position switch in stride.
Antonio Gibson injury and fantasy outlook
There were plenty of reasons for optimism. A host of offseason additions looked like they’d improve the offense, with Ryan Fitzpatrick and Curtis Samuel brought in to help the passing game. Gibson was expected to get a heavy workload in a more explosive offense that should find itself in the red zone more frequently than those led by Alex Smith and Dwayne Haskins.
Injuries have hampered Gibson’s season, though, even if he has been active for every game. He practiced in full on Friday after being a limited participant for the rest of the week. It’s good news for his chances of playing on Sunday, but he won’t be at 100%. Gibson is still dealing with a hairline fracture in his shin, and he could be handed a reduced workload.
Gibson played just 30 of 72 offensive snaps in Week 7 against the Green Bay Packers, although he still had 14 rushing attempts and 2 receptions. It’s unclear how much of this was due to Gibson’s injury or game script, as Washington was down multiple scores for most of the game. Make sure to keep an eye out for any injury updates.
Washington deploys an RB timeshare
Gibson was never going to be a feature back in the way that Christian McCaffrey or Derrick Henry are used. J.D. McKissic established himself as one of the team’s top receiving options last season. He performed well and provided a reliable option out of the backfield. Washington offensive coordinator Scott Turner was never going to take work as a pass-catching back away from him altogether.
Yet, Gibson has just 18 targets through seven games this season. That’s 2.8 per game and a lower average than players like Alexander Mattison, who are clear backups on their offense. It’s also lower than the 3.1 targets per game he received as a rookie, despite his impressive performances. Fantasy managers were hoping that the number would be moving in the opposite direction.
The good news is that Gibson is still handling the valuable red-zone touches. He has 13 of the team’s 28 rushing attempts within 20 yards. 9 of the remaining 15 attempts have been by quarterbacks. He’s only had 1 target in the red zone, but McKissic has also only been targeted once. Quarterback Taylor Heinicke simply hasn’t targeted running backs, preferring to look at wide receivers and tight ends.
Should I start Gibson in Week 8?
Gibson and Washington face the Denver Broncos in Week 8. The Broncos have been an average defense against running backs so far this season, allowing the 20th-most fantasy points to the position in standard scoring. They’ve been a little better in PPR, allowing the 10th-fewest points. It’s not a defense that should scare you and stop you from starting Gibson, but expectations should be managed.
Gibson is currently the RB21 in our Week 8 fantasy football RB rankings. He’s a solid option, but he’s dealing with a shin injury that will limit his mobility. He’s not as dynamic as last year, which lowers his ceiling, but he’s a talented player with a high floor.
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