Antonio Gibson Start/Sit Week 2: Is he a no-brainer against the Giants?

With a change at QB, the Football Team will rely on their second-year RB, which should help Antonio Gibson's fantasy value.

Fantasy football is back and — boy — was Week 1 a wild one. There were lots of players who disappointed their managers, either in their offensive workload or by getting injured. Luckily for Antonio Gibson managers, he escaped Week 1 unharmed and looked solid doing so. What does this mean for Gibson’s fantasy outlook heading forward?

Should you start or sit Antonio Gibson in Week 2?

This week, the Washington Football Team hosts the New York Giants on Thursday Night Football. This NFC East divisional matchup will have a lot of firepower on the field. The Giants have questions about star running back Saquon Barkley, but Washington seems to have theirs answered regarding running back Antonio Gibson. He played well last week, but let’s look at the offense as a whole.

WFT in Week 1

First things first, let’s look back at how the Washington Football Team performed as a unit in Week 1. The Washington offense wasn’t exactly spectacular in the team’s 20-16 loss to the Chargers, but they weren’t terrible either. While the Football Team’s passing attack was below average, the club did better on the ground.

Washington ran the ball 27 times in total, with Gibson getting the lion’s share of the carries. He finished with 20 rush attempts for 90 yards. Gibson also caught 3 of his 5 targets for another 18 yards through the air. Gibson didn’t see the end zone last week, but touchdowns are often tough to predict.

One main reason for the team’s struggles was unquestionably the loss of QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitzmagic, as he’s often called, only threw 6 passes before leaving with a hip injury. This affected Washington’s offense through the air in a major way. Wide receiver Terry McLaurin was the leading pass catcher with only 4 catches for 62 yards. Overall the passing game was pretty weak, and the final score backs that up.

There will be a QB change

With Fitzpatrick injured, Washington turned to backup QB Taylor Heinicke for the remainder of the game. Heinicke threw for 122 yards, completing 11 of his 15 attempts. The team may have scaled back its passing attack with a backup in the game, but this kind of volume doesn’t bode well for the passing game going forward.

Head coach Ron Rivera already stated that Heinicke will be the team’s starter again this week. They are not expected to sign a veteran to take over the job. This means that Heinicke will lead the team for the foreseeable future while Fitzpatrick recovers over the next 4-6 weeks. This is definitely something to be worried about for fantasy purposes.

Most of all, I think this hurts pass-catching running back J.D. McKissic more than anyone else. Last year, McKissic was amazing out of the backfield with QB Alex Smith — but Heinicke is far from Smith. In the 2020 NFL Playoffs, Heinicke started the Wild Card game and McKissic managed just 2 catches on 3 targets for 8 yards. While this quarterback change hurts McKissic’s value, it could greatly increase Gibson’s.

Antonio Gibson’s fantasy outlook

The fantasy outlook for Gibson is looking up with the change under center. In his rookie campaign, Gibson saw a total of 170 carries for 795 yards and 11 touchdowns in 14 games. With Heinicke taking over, it’s likely going to become Gibson’s team to lead until Fitz comes back. Gibson is one of Washington’s best weapons and should command a large part of the offensive game plan.

His chance to shine starts in Week 2 against the New York Giants on Thursday night. The Giants played the Denver Broncos in Week 1 and let them rush for 165 yards in total. The Football Team should lean more on the running game with Heinicke taking over. I wouldn’t be shocked if they rush even more than they did last week with the game in primetime.

Gibson is a sure-fire starter in Week 2

The top fantasy running back is (without a doubt) Christian McCaffrey, but Gibson could be in line for a similar workload this week. Rivera has even previously said he wants to deploy Gibson like he used McCaffrey in Carolina. That plan likely starts in Week 2 with the change at QB.

The Giants aren’t that tough against the run, so it’s very possible that the Football Team gives Gibson the ball early and often. He could even see more work in the passing game since it’s more likely Heinicke looks for dump-offs and short reads as he adjusts to the offense.

In 2021 fantasy football, Gibson is a must-start, especially in Week 2 on Thursday night. Gibson is an easy RB2 with RB1 upside and someone that should absolutely be in your lineup’s RB slot before Thursday’s game. As with any decision, it could backfire, but all signs point to Gibson being a fantasy stud this week.

Andrew Hall is a writer covering the NFL and fantasy football and is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). You can follow him on Twitter @AndrewHallFF and find more of his work for Pro Football Network here.

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