Not many players, if any, have enjoyed a meteoric rise up fantasy football draft boards in recent weeks quite like Washington rookie Antonio Gibson. With the release of both Derrius Guice and Adrian Peterson within the past five weeks, the rookie out of Memphis has quickly gone from an intriguing change of pace back to potential lead-dog in the Washington backfield.
However, has hype officially superseded the potential output for a player who’s currently listed behind the likes of J.D. McKissic on the team’s depth chart and carried the football a grand total of just 33 times during his FBS career? Let’s take a look.
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Antonio Gibson Fantasy Outlook vs. Eagles
Gibson has the body type (6-foot-2-inches, 220-pounds) and skillset to be a legitimate featured back in the NFL. However, during his collegiate career, he starred mostly as a receiver, hauling in more passes (44) than he had rushing attempts (33) during his two years at Memphis. With that said, when he did carry the ball he was highly effective, owning an 11.2 yards per carry career average.
While many fantasy owners drafted Gibson to be their RB2 and a hopeful featured back, chances are we’ll see the versatile playmaker moonlight in a plethora of roles, similar to his Memphis days.
Even with the release of their projected top-two running backs, Washington’s backfield is loaded with bodies. The aforementioned McKissic has been named the starter. Bryce Love, a former Heisman Trophy finalist, has enjoyed a solid training camp. While head coach Ron Rivera appears to have a soft spot for Peyton Barber, who gashed the coach on multiple occasions back during their NFC South days.
The idea that Gibson will push much further than 10 rushing attempts on Sunday seems highly unlikely. Yet, even if he does, running room will likely be hard to come by.
Only two teams allowed fewer rushing yards than the Philadelphia Eagles did to the running back position a season ago. Furthermore, they were just one of four defenses to surrender fewer than 70.0 rushing yards per game to the position group. As you could likely expect, production such as this led to the Eagles being one of the most vaunted running back matchups in fantasy this past year, allowing the fifth-fewest points to the position in 2019.
Should You Start or Sit Antonio Gibson in Week 1?
Aside from his pure upside, the lone statistical draw for Gibson this week would be the fact that running backs who played Philly this past season saw an average of 7.4 targets come their way, ranking as the 10th-most in football.
While young and with limited experience as a runner, the idea of Gibson putting up RB2-like numbers out the gates is likely a stretch. With that said, his playmaking abilities on a team that is hungry for said skills, make him a high-upside flex start in PPR-scoring formats.
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