With the recent changes to the Washington Football Team’s backfield, specifically the releases of running backs Derrius Guice and Adrian Peterson, all signs pointed to this being Antonio Gibson’s time to shine. Well, that could still be true, but Washington decided to throw everyone for a loop and list journeyman RB J.D. McKissic as the starter on the depth chart. While this is a shock, it brings up a couple of valid questions: What is McKissic’s fantasy football value if this stays true all year, and is he worth stashing on your fantasy team just in case he’s the guy?
J.D. McKissic’s fantasy history
You might recall McKissic’s name from scanning box scores over the last few years and thinking to yourself “Who is that guy?” He’s been in the NFL for four years, the first three with the Seattle Seahawks and last year with the Detroit Lions.
In his four year career prior to this season, McKissic’s career stats are hardly mindblowing: four starts in 35 games, 88 carries for 402 yards with one rushing touchdown, to go along with 70 catches on 91 targets for 515 yards and three receiving touchdowns. Clearly, he’s been used more in the passing game than on the ground.
Overall, McKissic’s stat lines look like the kind of thing you might see for a single year from a talented rookie rather than spread out over 35 total games. He’s got sure hands and has been a weapon used on third downs a lot, but he hasn’t made enough of a splash to really stay on a team that long. Even during his best year in Seattle he only managed 46 carries and 46 targets, both career highs in a season. He certainly hasn’t had a team on his back or anything, at least not yet.
Is McKissic really the starter in Washington?
While he hasn’t had much luck in the past, it sure looks like that could be changing now. When Washington picked him up this offseason, it looked to be purely a depth move and that he would be a prime cutdown candidate given the talent ahead of him. But somehow, McKissic didn’t only survive the cut down date, he’s now listed at the top of the depth chart. But is that for real?
I recently wrote about Antonio Gibson and how he was the clear option in terms of talent, but perhaps head coach Ron Rivera and the Football Team have something in mind for McKissic as the more experienced option. Maybe they see listing him as the starter as a motivational piece for Gibson and second-year RB Bryce Love to use to play better. It’s also possible that he just assimilated better to the offense and as a reward, they’re giving him the role for Week 1 and will see how it goes.
Like a lot of decisions at this time of year, it’s more likely to be considered noise than signal, meaning it’s more likely that this isn’t really anything important and is just coach-speak. McKissic hasn’t been a true every week starter before, although he was the starter for three games last year with the Lions due to injury. It’s more likely to me that McKissic is the starter in name only and is not someone who will produce for fantasy all that much in Week 1.
J.D. McKissic’s fantasy outlook for 2020
On that note, I wouldn’t expect to see McKissic break out much this year in total either. If you’re in a normal redraft league with 15 rounds of a draft, he’s not worth adding at all. The chances of him getting carries are there, but he hasn’t proven that he can carry a full workload at any point in his four-year career thus far. With Gibson nipping at his heels, odds are better that McKissic stays around 40 carries and 60 targets this year, which could prove annoying week to week, but is still someone not worth wasting a bench spot on.
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For dynasty or deeper leagues, things get more intriguing. McKissic being named the starter does mean something, even if it’s not much. It means that the team is at least willing to put him in the backfield to start the season and see what he can do. If you have the depth I think he’s worth adding, but it’s very possible that in deeper leagues he was added when Peterson was cut last week. I wouldn’t race out to grab him, but it’s worth checking I guess.
Personally, I think McKissic is a guy that will find his way onto waiver wire articles week in and week out and never truly be someone you want to start unless your team gets decimated by injuries. I think you can find more boom or bust talent on the waivers, like his teammate Love, for instance. There are also a bunch of guys seeing new opportunities in places like Jacksonville and Kansas City that could be more explosive and are also available to be picked up before Week 1. Give me one of those guys over McKissic, at least until we see what he’s capable of.
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Andrew Hall is a writer for PFN covering the NFL and Fantasy Football. You can follow him on Twitter: @AndrewHallFF.