By now you have probably seen the news from yesterday which lead to the release of starting RB, Derrius Guice by the Washington Football Team. After charges of domestic violence surfaced on 8/7/20, Washington wasted little time before cutting ties with the oft-injured 23 year-old Guice as their quest to reshape the culture of the franchise continues.
As expected, the Fantasy Football community had a strong reaction to this primarily in the form of support of rookie RB Antonio Gibson and his outlook for 2020. However, before we jump onto the Gibson bandwagon we want to go ahead and break down the RB situation as a whole in Washington a little but further.
To get a more accurate picture of the Washington backfield we do briefly have to examine what the projections were prior to the Guice release. While there were some analysts in the fantasy community that were calling for us to take notice of Guice due to the possible upside, we here at ADP never fully bought into that idea. In fact, prior to this, our projections for Guice were fairly conservative as we viewed him as the RB 34 in Standard and PPR formats with an expected 700 rushing yards for 6 total TD's and 30 receptions for 200 receiving yards. As you would expect, there were a lot of reasons that factored into this but the main ones of note involved:
The presence of Adrian Peterson along with other capable RB's (see below)
A question mark at the QB position
An offense that projected to be one of the worst in the league
Game flow that would likely cause a prioritization on the passing game throughout 2020
An offensive line ranked 29th overall by PFF heading into 2020
So now, the question becomes how many of those factors have actually changed significantly enough to make us feel more comfortable about the Washington backfield? Well, let's start with the most obvious and examine the updated RB depth chart which includes:
Adrian Peterson (With Washington since 2018, having rushed for a combined 1940 yards in 2 years)
Antonio Gibson (3rd round rookie that played WR in Memphis)
Peyton Barber (Signed a 2-year, $3 million dollar contract with Washington in 2020)
Bryce Love (4th round RB selection by Washington in 2019, viewed as a high upside RB that missed 2019 due to injury)
J.D. McKissic (Signed a 2-year, $3.37 million dollar contract with Washington in 2020)
On the surface yes, obviously every single RB above can now expect a bump in volume which naturally will happen any time there is a departure by a team's lead RB. Even though Washington doesn't have an official updated depth chart the current assumption is that one of Adrian Peterson, Antonio Gibson, and/or likely Peyton Barber will provide the biggest contributions.
While in the span of 24-hours there has been a major hype-up of rookie Antonio Gibson we have to question how valid this expectation really is. The reason we say this is because initially we actually view Adrian Peterson as the projected lead RB for Washington in a reprisal of his role from 2019 during which he had 898 rushing yards and 5 TD's and was the RB 28 and RB 33 in Standard and PPR formats respectively. In fact, out of any Washington RB on our 2020 rankings, Adrian Peterson saw the biggest rise in 2020 projections, seeing his rushing total rise to 850 for 6 total TD's. And sure, Gibson also saw a bump here, but it wasn't nearly as significant, coming in at RB 45 and RB 42 in Standard and PPR formats respectively for a projected 400 rushing yards, 2 rushing TD's, 40 reception for 350 yards and 1 receiving TD. As far as the other Washington RB's we don''t have any of them cracking the Top 50 at the position. While you might call these projections conservative how many of the concerning factors highlighted above actually changed for Washington other than the release of Guice?
And yes, Gibson does have good upside but we just aren't sure that 2020 is the year he will capitalize on it. The truth is, Gibson is a very raw player that even though might be very versatile, primarily played as a WR during his college days in Memphis. See stats below:
Frankly, we believe that this is just one of those cases where the fantasy community is just a little too desperate to find another rookie RB that can make an immediate impact at a position that we all value greatly. While there's nothing wrong in that, our advice is to go ahead and PASS on Gibson along with the ENTIRE Washington backfield, which is likely to be very inconsistent and employ a RBBC. On top of this, the rapid rise in ADP that by the start of the NFL season could land Gibson as a 6th/7th round pick is somewhat unwarranted considering the situation outlined in Washington. For that reason, you should look elsewhere for RB help in 2020 and look at Gibson primarily as a nice, potential dynasty piece in a few years.