After the Washington Football Team drafted Antonio Gibson out of Memphis in the third round last year, I was very excited about his potential for fantasy football. In 14 games with his pro team, Gibson had 170 carries for 795 yards and 11 touchdowns, along with 36 catches for 247 yards. That was with significant involvement for Peyton Barber and J.D. McKissic in the offense, and Gibson could see more work this year in his second season. Head coach Ron Rivera has been very excited about Gibson for this season, saying, “you can tell he’s matured” at the position. Gibson is a great talent, and he should see significant involvement in this offense.
Antonio Gibson’s improvement ‘like night and day’ https://t.co/tsyc2bOG78
— NBC Sports EDGE Football (@NBCSEdgeFB) June 24, 2021
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Antonio Gibson was primarily a receiver during his time at Memphis and transitioned to running back when he arrived in the NFL. During the first eight games of the 2020 season, Gibson averaged 4.34 yards per carry with seven runs of 10+ yards. He averaged 5.05 yards per carry during the final six games and had fourteen runs of 10+ yards. He saw double-digit carries in all but one of those games, the Steelers game which he left early with an injury. Gibson missed two games last season with a turf toe injury, but he should be good to go for 2021.
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There’s plenty of reasons for optimism for Gibson to improve as a fantasy football asset this season. He finished as the RB12 overall and RB18 in per-game scoring with 13.2 half-PPR points per game. I currently have him projected for 14.2 half-PPR points per game in 2021, a significant jump. His yards-per-carry should continue to improve as he grows more comfortable playing running back in the NFL, and I’m expecting him to see more of a three-down role with J.D. McKissic’s targets reduced from last year. Gibson is also a great red-zone back who should be able to replicate a double-digit touchdown effort this year.
— Jacob (@wftnetwork) June 26, 2021
ADP & Auction Value
ADP: 17, Round 2, RB12
Auction Value: $37
Antonio Gibson’s fantasy football ADP has steadily risen over the past few months, and he’s now consistently being selected in the middle of the second round as a low-end RB1 or high-end RB2. I have him ranked as my RB11 in half-PPR scoring, so this projection is right on point, and with some luck, there are scenarios where he’s actually a value at this point in the draft. If I’m drafting one of the elite wide receivers in the first round, I’m pretty excited to have Gibson as my RB1 in the second round.
Aside from the game in which Gibson had two carries and left early with that turf toe injury, he saw 12.9 carries on average. Over a full 17-game slate, Gibson would have been good for 220 carries. Even if he stuck with his 4.7 YPC average from last year, Gibson would be looking at over 1,000 yards. Gibson also ran for 11 touchdowns in 14 games last year, which may come back down to earth a bit. However, the team has been hyping up his improved receiving ability, and as a receiver at Memphis, Gibson caught 38 balls for 735 yards and 8 touchdowns in 2019. It would be shocking to see J.D. McKissic far outpace him in targets again this season. All told, Gibson is a locked-in top-20 running back, provided he can stay healthy.
While Gibson has a great baseline as a solid RB2, his upside could be top-five at the running back position. Gibson got better and better as the season went on last year, and if it weren’t for his turf toe injury, public opinion might be very different regarding the Washington rusher. If Gibson replicates his 5.05 YPC that he put up down the stretch and racks up 220 carries, he could surpass 1,210 rushing yards. Add that to 14 rushing touchdowns, his 17-game pace last year, and Gibson could be good for 205 fantasy points on the ground alone. J.D. McKissic caught 80 balls last season; give half of those to Gibson at his 6.8 YPR clip, and you’re looking at another 515 yards through the air. Without any receiving touchdowns, that could give Gibson another 89.5 half-PPR fantasy points. Altogether, those marks would give Gibson 17.3 half-PPR points per game – only five running backs scored more half-PPR points per game. The path is certainly there for Gibson to be a top-five running back this season.
Your daily reminder that Antonio Gibson needs to be FED
— Sam Wagman (@swagman95) June 24, 2021
Washington Football Team Offense
Washington scored 20.9 points per game, the 25th-most in the NFL, which in and of itself was an accomplishment given the inconsistent, bad quarterback play from Dwayne Haskins, Kyle Allen, and Alex Smith. Ryan Fitzpatrick, a journeyman veteran, was signed to be the team’s new starter. He started nine games for the Dolphins in 2020 and completed 68.5% of his passes for 2,091 yards and 13 touchdowns to 8 interceptions over that span. Terry McLaurin is entrenched as the team’s starting wideout after catching 87 passes for 1,118 yards and 4 touchdowns last year. He’ll be supported by Curtis Samuel, a free-agency acquisition who caught 77 balls for 851 yards and 3 touchdowns. In addition, Washington drafted Antonio Gandy-Golden in 2020 and Dyami Brown this year, both of whom should be involved in the pass-catching effort as well. Tight end Logan Thomas was one of the team’s leading receivers last year with 72 catches for 670 yards and 6 touchdowns, but I’d predict a bit of regression from him. While this team has plenty of pass-catching talent, they’re likely to attempt to be a run-first team to support their elite defense. Gibson will be the focal point of that rushing attack.
Strength of Schedule
Antonio Gibson faces a manageable schedule this season with Washington’s opponents allowing the 13th-most fantasy points per game to running backs. Gibson gets to play the Cowboys another two times this season, something he should be looking forward to as Dallas allowed the seventh-most fantasy points per game to RBs last year, and Gibson averaged 20 carries for 121.5 yards and 1.5 touchdowns against them in two matchups last year. The Giants didn’t fare much better against the run, ranking 22nd in fantasy points allowed to RBs, while the Eagles ranked 11th. Washington also faces some easy run defenses in the AFC West, including the Chargers (14th), Broncos (21st), Chiefs (23rd), and Raiders (29th). The NFC South presents a bit more of a challenge in the Saints (1st), Buccaneers (4th), and Falcons (9th), although the Panthers (24th) were much worse against the run. Rounding out the Washington schedule are the Seahawks (17th), Bills (18th), and Packers (28th), all of whom were below-average in terms of the fewest fantasy points allowed to running backs. This appears to be a fairly manageable schedule for Gibson, and he’s going to be highly productive this season.
Antonio Gibson is ready to take his game to the next level 🚀 pic.twitter.com/x7r41qFzfV
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) June 26, 2021
Of all of the second-year running backs who are being drafted in the second through the fourth round, Antonio Gibson may be my favorite. A receiver while at Memphis, Gibson should see heavier involvement in the passing game this season, and he improved as a rusher as his rookie season went on. Gibson is a great talent at running back who Ron Rivera is excited to get more involved in the offense. He should have every opportunity to be a top-ten rusher, especially with Washington looking to assert themselves in the ground game to complement their dominant defense.
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