After two years plagued by injury and unrealized hopes, Derrius Guice has been released by the Washington Football team following his arrest on domestic violence charges. The ripple effects will be left all over. First and foremost, the victims impacted by his actions. Secondly, the Washington organization now has to look internally to see how they move forward with their likely Week 1 starter no longer on the team. Lastly, fantasy football players also have to decipher how Guice’s release not only affects him, but the backfield’s outlook as a whole in 2020.
Why did Derrius Guice get released?
Guice faces charges that include one count of strangulation, which is a felony, according to a spokesman for the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office. The other charges are three counts of assault and battery, as well as one count of destruction of property.
Guice turned himself in at the Loudoun Adult Detention Center at roughly 5 PM. Upon learning of Guice’s arrest, Washington moved swiftly by releasing the former second-round draft pick, putting out a statement.
“On Thursday, we learned of a potential domestic violence related incident involving RB Derrius Guice. We immediately alerted the National Football League and have continued to work with them during this process. We then met with Derrius to inform him that he was excused from all team activity pending a review of this matter. This afternoon we learned that there were multiple charges filed against Derrius. Upon review of the nature of these charges and following internal discussions, we have decided to release Derrius immediately.”
While I can not understate that the focus needs to be on the victim and all involved, in the fantasy football world, our minds will inevitably shift to how this will impact the 2020 season.
Washington’s fantasy outlook following Guice’s release
There was little question that Guice was the incoming starter. The value the team felt they received was never displayed as Guice tore his ACL in Washington’s first preseason game that summer.
Guice recovered and started in the 2019 season-opener at Philadelphia, only to tear the meniscus in his right knee and miss the next eight games. He returned in November and played well in a four-week stretch that included rushing ten times for 129 yards and two touchdowns in a 29-21 victory over Carolina. He sprained his MCL in his knee during a Dec. 8 loss at Green Bay and sat out the rest of the season as a precaution.
The team and fantasy football owners were excited to see what he could bring to their respective teams in 2020. Although Washington would be a low scoring team, the value of a lead running back around pick 75 with upside was a promising thought leading into drafts.
We have to look at who becomes the primary beneficiary in the Washington backfield and who presents the highest upside and value for fantasy football.
Which Washington running back should we draft in fantasy football?
I wish there was an easy answer, but if anything, the Washington backfield is more of a convoluted mess.
First, we have a 35-year-old Adrian Peterson. We have to remember this is not the 2012 version of Peterson we are going to see on the field who came up 8 yards short of breaking Eric Dickerson’s all-time rushing record. This is Adrian Peterson, who played in all 16 games just once since 2015.
It’s not to say that he won’t be effective for Washington when on the field. Since joining the team, he has averaged 4.2 yards per carry on his 462 rushing attempts. I feel that he is what he is for lack of a better term. There is no week-winning ceiling that comes when selecting Peterson at his RB55 ADP. He will be a plodder who can break a 20-yard run, but in PPR especially, I think there are better options that present a better value.
Could Antonio Gibson be the guy who benefits the most?
Antonio Gibson instantly comes to mind when thinking of who can benefit the most following Guice’s release. The rookie out of Memphis was one of the most talked-about under the radar prospects coming into the season, which saw his ADP climb in rookie drafts. When someone who only had 33 rushing attempts is getting comparisons to David Johnson (when he was good), you start to pay attention.
Since the start of the offseason, I have said that Gibson is one of the best pass-catchers of this whole running back class. The only players I put in his category are Clyde Edwards-Helaire and D’Andre Swift. Gibson saw the majority of his touches split out as a wide receiver, and given Ron Rivera’s love to get running backs in space via the pass, you have to be excited for what can happen.
Gibson currently is going as RB52, but this will rise swiftly following today’s news. Even with an inflated ADP, Gibson could give a massive return on investment for fantasy football owners selecting him for bench depth.
Bryce Love is a guy who may be overlooked in Washington
The next name I am looking at is former Stanford RB Bryce Love. People seem to have forgotten how special Love was in 2017 as he finished as the Heisman Trophy runner-up to Baker Mayfield. In 2017, Love rushed for over 2,000 yards on 8.1 yards per carry while showing off sprinter-level speed and acceleration.
He is being overlooked due to an underwhelming 2018, where he added injury to insult by tearing his ACL on the final play of the season. Due to surgery and recovery, Love missed all of his rookie season.
Love brings explosiveness and top-end speed that is unmatched in the Washington backfield. Everything coming out of the organization indicates they have been impressed with Love and have high hopes for him this year. He is going undrafted in most redraft leagues as RB86. We are throwing darts in that ranges, and few, if any, have the upside Love does with your final selection.
I would be remiss if I did not mention Peyton Barber and J.D. McKissic as they need to be factored in. I don’t mean it as in fantasy relevance, or you need to select them rather than likely being a thorn in your side this season.
It’s still hard to be excited for anyone in the Washington backfield
The lack of one real standout running back means it will likely be a mess as they all limit each other’s upside. Peterson’s likely third-down and goal-line usage take away from both Love and Gibson. Their passing ability and a limited number of touches this offense will see due to inefficiency is also another factor.
No matter who you choose to select in your fantasy drafts, you won’t start any come Week 1 due to not having any offseason to see how the touches will break down. Luckily enough, they don’t cost very much either, so the investment is worth the upside if they become the primary back for a fraction of the price.
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Tommy Garrett is a writer for PFN covering Fantasy Football. You can follow him at @TommygarrettPFN on Twitter.