How Redskins RB Antonio Gibson Could Be A Fantasy League Winner

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Getty Images. Pictured: Antonio Gibson

Antonio Gibson Dynasty Rookie Analysis

  • Draft Position: 3.66 | School: Memphis
  • Height: 6’ | Weight: 229 pounds
  • 40-yard dash: 4.39 seconds
  • 2020 Age: 22 | Class: Senior
  • Recruitment Stars: 3-4

I might need to move Gibson up my board, because he has some real David Johnson-like potential as a receiver-turned-runner offensive weapon.

People are going to sleep on him right now, but he has the talent to take over the backfield for the Redskins.

Although Gibson worked out with the wide receivers at the combine, he has been projected to the NFL mostly as a running back throughout the evaluation process.

And, sure enough, after drafting Gibson, the team said that it intends to use him at running back — or as a running back/receiver hybrid — and to line him up all over the field in two-back sets so that Peterson or Guice could be in the backfield and he could be in the backfield as well or in the slot (per Grant Paulsen and Albert Breer).

So right now the team seems to view Gibson as a supplemental player. He’ll probably start out in Washington by returning kicks and getting occasional usage — just as Johnson did as a rookie.

But what happens if, in a Johnson-esque fashion, Gibson proves to be more efficient and explosive with his touches than are the 35-year-old Peterson and the injury-slowed Guice?

They’ll give him a chance to lead the backfield.

And if Gibson gets his chance, I expect that he will run away with it. He’ll make the full-blown transition from part-time gadget player to full-time lead back with the potential for 250 carries and 100 targets.

And why shouldn’t he? Even though he played 87% of his snaps in the slot in 2019, as a runner he led the nation with 11.2 yards per attempt and 8.0 yards after contact per attempt (per SIS).

Based on the SIS data, I don’t think Gibson ran one single time in between the tackles last year. Oh, man. But does that really matter? That doesn’t mean he can’t do it. Lots of tape-grinding analysts thought that Johnson’s ineffectiveness as an interior rusher would prevent him from being a full-time back in the NFL. It didn’t.

If a guy can catch the ball and turn enough of his carries into big plays, his team probably won’t care if he’s a below-average interior runner — because how many yards do up-the-gut rushing plays get anyway?

As a slot receiver, Gibson can catch the ball, and as an offensive player, Gibson can break enough tackles to make big plays. Last year he led the college ranks with 38 broken tackles per 100 touches (per SIS). Specifically, he had 16 broken tackles on 33 carries and 17 broken tackles on 38 receptions. As a receiver, he led all draft-eligible prospects with 11.7 yards after the catch per reception (per PFF).

Those numbers are beyond elite. The sample is small, but Gibson’s ability is undeniable.

It’s less than ideal that Gibson started out at junior college, but he was the No. 1 receiver as both a freshman and sophomore (50-871-13 receiving in 19 games), and he had an age-18 breakout with 39.1% of the receiving yards and 37.5% of the receiving touchdowns in his first year at East Central Community College (MS).

He leveraged that production into 3-4 stars as a JUCO recruit, and after serving as a depth receiver at Memphis in 2018 while Darrell Henderson, Patrick Taylor and Tony Pollard dominated touches in the offense, he exploded as a senior, playing to perfection the backfield/slot receiver role that launched Pollard to the NFL as a fourth-rounder in last year’s draft.

Gibson’s 2019 production can be described only as pornographic.

  • Receiving: 38 receptions, 735 yards, eight touchdowns on 56 targets
  • Rushing: 33 carries, 369 yards, four touchdowns
  • Kick Returning: 23 returns, 645 yards, one touchdown

That’s 1,104 yards from scrimmage and 13 all-purpose touchdowns — on highly limited usage — in 14 games.

Unreal.

I admit that Gibson might totally fail in the NFL as a running back. It’s a projection, because he didn’t really play the position in college. He just occasionally lined up there. Most of his handoffs came on jet sweeps.

But he was a back in high school, so the position isn’t totally foreign to him.

He’s a boom/bust player, and that’s why I have him ranked after most of the second-round receivers — but I’m willing to bet on his ability to boom.

He’s not a nuanced runner or smooth route runner. He’s just an explosive playmaker, and near the end of Round 2, that’s worth investing in.

In the RV Combine Explorer, the running back to whom he’s most physically comparable is Ronnie Brown; wide receiver, A.J. Brown. Except he’s significantly faster than both. Naturally.

He’s basically the more explosive Shenault.

  • Antonio Gibson: 6’0″ and 228 pounds, 4.39-second 40 time
  • Laviska Shenault: 6’1″ and 227 pounds, 4.58-second 40 time

He’s the arbitrage Taylor.

  • Antonio Gibson: 6’0″ and 228 pounds, 4.39-second 40 time
  • Jonathan Taylor: 5’10” and 226 pounds, 4.39-second 40 time

He’s a league winner.

NFL Prospect Comp: Ty Montgomery but bigger and much faster with more draft capital and less polish

More Dynasty Analysis For Freedman’s Top Rookies

  1. Chiefs RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire
  2. Rams RB Cam Akers
  3. Colts RB Jonathan Taylor
  4. Broncos WR Jerry Jeudy
  5. Cowboys WR CeeDee Lamb

Matthew Freedman is the Editor-in-Chief of FantasyLabs, part of The Action Network.

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