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Antonio Gibson: Big, bold, and breaking out in 2021

Antonio Gibson finished as the RB13 in his rookie season. Check out this Player Overview article by @WhyDoIEvenTryFF to see why Gibson has the potential to become a top dynasty asset!

Antonio Gibson had a strong rookie year despite many uncertainties heading into the season. The Washington Football Team selected Gibson with the second pick in the third round of the 2020 NFL draft. With concerns about college workload and a crowded Washington backfield, Gibson slid a little in dynasty rookie drafts. Those who took the risk on him got a steal. The running back out of Memphis, who only had 33 career carries, would go on to put up an RB13 season in PPR formats as a rookie. After a productive rookie season, what should we expect for Gibson’s future outlook?

The Talent

Gibson was able to perform despite being a rookie during a year where Covid-19 caused an unprecedented offseason. Add that he had limited carries in college; the expectations weren’t that high from most analysts. The Football Team’s backfield situation cleared up after Derrius Guice’s release and an unfortunate injury to Bryce Love. Gibson took the starting role and showed that he could be a great running back in this league while finishing as the RB13 in PPR despite getting injured in Week 13 after just two carries and then missing Weeks 14 and 15.

He finished the season 18th in both rushing attempts (170) and rushing yards (795) among running backs. The Washington Football Team was 25th in the NFL in rushing attempts, so Gibson made the most of his opportunities. He was an efficient runner and was near the top of most efficiency metrics.

According to FootballOutsiders.com, Gibson finished 6th among running backs in DVOA. If you are unfamiliar with DVOA, Football Outsiders defines it on their website. This definition is from their glossary, “DVOA breaks down the entire season play-by-play, comparing success on each play to the league average based on a number of variables including down, distance, location on the field, current score gap, quarter, and opponent quality.”

According to PlayerProfiler.com, Gibson was 8th in juke rate (28.2%). Gibson is very elusive and can evade tackles consistently. PlayerProfiler shows Gibson having 58 evaded tackles (13th). His talent in this area can lead to a big play at any moment.

The Film

All of the clips used for this article are from Sports Production’s YouTube video of Antonio Gibson’s 2020-2021 rookie highlights.

Gibson is such a shifty runner and uses precise cuts to force missed tackles. In this clip, you will see Gibson burst through the hole and then plant his right foot and cut up-field for the score.

In this clip, Gibson shows patience as a runner and makes something out of nothing after bouncing the run outside and picking up the first down.

Here you’ll see Gibson bounces outside again after juking left to make the defender miss. The defender almost got to Gibson to disrupt the run even with the blocker coming in.

Gibson is a big play waiting to happen. In this clip, he hits the hole hard and cuts to the left to avoid contact from the linebacker, and uses his speed to take away the angle from the safety.

This play may not have been a touchdown run, but it was a beautiful run by Gibson. He again shows his shiftiness and elusiveness. He also displayed great vision here to utilize his blockers correctly to pick up the 20 yard gain.

In this final clip, I wanted to display Gibson’s playmaking ability as a pass-catcher. He is a natural pass catcher and playmaker. Here he instantly turns up-field and uses his blockers well again, and shows off his elusiveness. The safety does prevent the touchdown, but Gibson displayed what he can do in the receiving game.

The Situation

Gibson is the clear RB1 for the Washington Football Team, but one thing that limited Gibson’s upside in the 2020 season was J.D. McKissic’s involvement in the passing game. McKissic led the NFL in targets among running backs with 110. He was used often in the pass-catching role, and he will likely be a thorn in Gibson’s side again in 2021. However, McKissic will be 28 years old at the start of the 2021 season, and it may be his last year on the team. The Football Team may re-sign him, but even if they do, I don’t find it likely that McKissic gets that many targets year to year. Gibson has shown he is a great pass catcher, and I think the Football Team will get him more involved in that area.

The Value

Gibson seems to be valued relatively high in dynasty, and rightfully so. He has the potential to become a top fantasy asset. I posted a couple of threads on Twitter to gauge his value compared to both draft picks and players. Each poll received about 100 votes.

The super flex rookie pick thread I posted had some interesting results. Gibson didn’t win a poll until pick 1.06, and he won that with only 54% of the vote. It does make sense since, in a super flex league, players tend to value quarterbacks highly. The 2021 draft class has several hyped-up quarterback prospects go along with skill position players like Najee Harris and Ja’Marr Chase, who most have as RB1 and WR1. I also included them in the polling to see who would win straight up, and 52% voted Harris over Gibson, and 63% voted Chase over Gibson.

I also put Gibson up against his rookie class and some aging players in my player values thread. Gibson lost the polls to Taylor, Swift, and Akers. He tied with Dobbins and won against Edwards-Helaire and Robinson. Gibson and Derrick Henry were a 50/50 split. Gibson got 58% of the vote against Zeke.

The Concerns

One of the concerns with Gibson was how he performed against bad defenses vs. good defenses. Gibson dominated Dallas twice this season and ran for a combined 243 yards. That accounted for 30.57% of his total rushing yards across his 14 games played. Those games were also the only times that Gibson hit 100 yards rushing. The closest he had to 100 yards rushing in another game was 94 yards, but that was against the Bengals, who were also a bad run defense. He dominated the bad run defense, as he should have, but this is still a concern.

According to PlayerProfiler, Gibson faced an eight man box only 12.9% of the time (#52) and met six or fewer men in the box 60% of the time (#6). He had 3.3 yards per carry against the eight man box and had 5.5 yards per carry against the six or fewer-man box. It’s typical to have a lower yards per carry against more defenders in the box; however, it concerns me a little bit with how often Gibson only had 6 or fewer defenders there.

Another concern is the offensive line for the Football Team. Per PlayerProfiler, the Football Team’s run blocking efficiency for Gibson was 76.8% (39th). The issue is it could worsen with the potential of losing four time Pro Bowl guard Brandon Scherff. There are rumors that a deal between the two sides isn’t close, and losing him would hurt.

The Conclusion

I believe in the talent, and it may not be long until Gibson is considered a top-end dynasty asset. The upside is there through rushing and receiving. Ron Rivera has raved about Gibson multiple times, and it’s evident that they want him to be a big part of the offense. I want Gibson on as many teams as I can get him on.

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