The Washington Football Team has largely been a laughing stock in terms of fantasy football for the past few seasons. Last year, rookie WR Terry McLaurin led all Washington players in fantasy PPR scoring with 191.9 points, followed by RB Adrian Peterson with 147 points. Rookie QB Dwayne Haskins only scored 76.7 fantasy points. To put it bluntly, 2019 was a not great year for fantasy in Washington. Can rookie RB Antonio Gibson change that and become a fantasy star in 2020?
Antonio Gibson Fantasy Profile – 2020 Draft Recap
Gibson was selected by the Washington Football Team with the 66th overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft. Washington selected stud DE Chase Young in the first round with the second overall pick, and since they traded their second-round pick to the Colts, Gibson was their second player selected in the 2020 draft.
Gibson went to Memphis and showed his talents as a pass-catching back later in his college career after starting as a wideout. PFN’s Matt Valdovinos considered Gibson “a raw runner as he played the majority of his collegiate career as a receiver. However, Memphis started to give him snaps out of the backfield last year and he dominated.” Clearly Washington saw something they liked enough to draft him in the third.
Valdovinos also wrote that “[s]ome felt like this may have been a reach due to a lack of volume production in college, but Gibson was one of the most electric players in the nation. He scored a touchdown every 5.5 touches during his time at Memphis and blurs the line between running back and wide receiver.” With Washington already expected to use RB Derrius Guice as their bell-cow, Gibson appeared to be next in line for their change of pace role. However, all of that changed in August when the team released RB Derrius Guice.
The Washington backfield is finally set in stone
With the release of both Guice and veteran RB Adrian Peterson, the backfield in Washington is pretty much Gibson’s to handle. Most expected Peterson to come out on top, at least to start the season, but now that he’s gone the competition is almost non-existent. Rookie running backs are often asked to carry the workload for their new teams, but no one predicted Gibson to be one of the ones getting a starting job so quickly.
Behind Gibson, the depth chart gets a little murky. PFN’s Ian Cummings projected the team to keep four running backs, including Peterson, but still projected McKissic to make the roster. “Gibson and McKissic both offer valuable versatility in Scott Turner’s scheme. Bryce Love appears to be in a battle with Peyton Barber for that fourth spot.” With the release of Peterson, it’s likely that Barber now makes the roster as the fourth back.
No matter who is backing him up, Gibson should see the majority of targets out of the backfield, potentially even getting some slot work as a receiver in some sets. McKissic is a fine option to catch balls out of the backfield too, but Gibson is the younger option with far more burst than the McKissic. As long as Gibson is healthy I can’t see why Washington would bother using McKissic all that much. The only real challenge to Gibson’s output is his ability to learn the offense now that he’s the RB1 for the team.
Antonio Gibson Fantasy Outlook for 2020
Some fantasy managers have been able to see the potential writing on the wall for Peterson and were selecting Gibson and his upside over Peterson and his floor. Gibson’s ADP from Fleaflicker is 140 overall (RB51) while Peterson’s is 147 (RB53). However, after the Guice release, both rose sharply in PFN’s rankings with Gibson coming in at 112 (RB39) and Peterson at 115 (RB40). Now that Peterson is gone, I’d expect Gibson to rise into the 5th or 6th round as the job is clearly his.
If you’ve already drafted Gibson you just won the lottery. Antonio Gibson’s fantasy value is now significantly higher than it was before the Peterson release. Like I said, I would feel comfortable taking him as soon as the 5th in PPR redraft leagues but probably not much earlier just because of the timing of Peterson’s release being so close to the start of the season. Gibson will still need some time to adjust and acclimate to the starting job, but he’s clearly worth rostering now and is definitely a fantasy RB worth starting in your own league.
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Andrew Hall is a writer for PFN covering the NFL and Fantasy Football. You can follow him on Twitter: @AndrewHallFF.