Largely overshadowed by his team’s play and turmoil in the organization, rookie running back Antonio Gibson has played well. Widely viewed as a “development level” player by fantasy football pundits, Gibson has played to a level that makes fantasy managers wish they would have jumped on the hype train much earlier. Should you start or sit Antonio Gibson in fantasy heading into Washington’s Week 5 matchup against the Los Angeles Rams, and what is his fantasy outlook for the rest of the season?
Antonio Gibson’s fantasy outlook shows us that he has quietly put up starting-worthy RB2 numbers this season
Outside a slow start in Week 1, Gibson has been a fantastic addition to fantasy rosters. The lack of a preseason led to his slow start, not to mention Peyton Barber stealing two goal-line touchdowns. Since then, Gibson has seen no less than 12 touches and scored a touchdown in three straight weeks.
Last week against the Baltimore Ravens, Gibson really took off, showing his versatility. Gibson rushed 13 times for 46 yards and a touchdown and caught four of his five targets for 82 yards in Sunday’s loss to the Ravens.
The part that shocks me is how effective he has been while seeing a limited number of snaps. Gibson is only playing on 44% of the team’s offensive snaps compared to J.D. McKissic at 50%, including 55% in Week 4. While being out-snapped, Gibson has 54 touches to McKissic’s 39.
Gibson’s 44 rushing attempts (43% rushing share) and 12 total targets (8% target share) have him ranked as the RB28 in total opportunities in the NFL. Unfortunately, this is still an annoying timeshare. However, we’re getting closer to Washington realizing that Gibson should be the full-time running back with McKissic being used as just a change of pace or to give Gibson a rest. However, when it comes to fantasy, Gibson should be a starter in nearly every game moving forward, even if McKissic might steal some valuable touches.
With a decent matchup in Week 5 against the Rams, should I start or sit Antonio Gibson?
No, it is not ideal, but Gibson’s versatility will serve him well this week. In a game that the Rams should quickly get out ahead, his natural pass-catching ability keeps him in the game script regardless of what the scoreboard reads. I could easily see Gibson receiving seven targets with Kyle Allen under center this week.
The Rams rank as a neutral matchup, as they’ve allowed the 18th-most fantasy points to running backs this season. They allow the seventh-highest yards per carry to running backs and the fifth-highest yards per catch to running backs. Also, they’ve allowed a top-16 running back in three of their four games. Gibson is a lower-end RB2 this week. I would have him a touch higher, but the target share limits his upside.
Antonio Gibson’s fantasy outlook can only rise as the season progresses
People forget how little work Gibson saw while at Memphis. His 44 carries this year are more than he had during his entire college career (33). When grading out the 2020 prospects, a group of three stood above the rest in their receiving ability — Clyde Edwards-Helaire, D’Andre Swift, and Gibson.
Two of those were in consideration for the best running back in the entire class, while Gibson flew under the radar. He gained momentum thanks to the rave reviews he received from the organization and reports during their short offseason program.
After seeing how effective Gibson has been on a limited snap share, he has to start seeing more opportunities moving forward. After making the change to Allen under center, I expect to see more passive involvement for Gibson, almost as a McCaffrey-lite. Barring injury, I don’t know how his value can go down. If you can acquire him for a reasonable price from his current fantasy manager, I think it needs to be considered.
Currently, RB18 on the season, it will not surprise me at all if he finishes just outside the RB1 conversation, and in a year from now, we are drafting him in the second round in fantasy drafts.
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