On Friday, the Washington Football Team released RB Derrius Guice due to allegations of domestic violence. Washington is trying to change the culture with new head coach Ron Rivera, wasting little time moving on. So what now? Who gets the rock? Let’s take a look.
Returning from last season is veteran Adrian Peterson and 2019 4th rounder Bryce Love out of Stanford. Peterson is entering age 35 season while Love spent the season recovering from an ACL tear.
Washington added two running backs during the free agency period. They brought in the uninspiring 26-year-old two down back Peyton Barber. They also signed soon to be 27-year-old pass-catcher J.D. McKissic. During the draft, Washington took 22-year-old Memphis playmaker Antonio Gibson with the 2nd pick of the 3rd Rd.
Entering the 2020 season, Washington ranks 29th in offensive line ranking per PFF.com. The offensive line is the biggest problem for any running back, regardless of talent. Before the hype for any back goes off the rails, it is vital to keep this in mind.
While you may get lucky during a bye week, A.P. and Barber are not players worth betting on. Peterson more than likely leads the team in carries in 2020. Not an ideal target in ppr leagues, however adding him from the wire is a must. There may be minimal ppr usage in McKissic, none of these guys are going to take you to dynasty glory. Peterson is well past his prime, and the other two are depth backs in the NFL.
In 2017, Bryce Love finished as the runner up in the Heisman race. He rushed for a staggering 2,118 yards and 19 scores. Standing 5’9″ and 200 lbs, Love won the Lombardi and Doak Walker Award. One of the nation’s top backs, he was a unanimous All-American and All-Pac 12 player. Bryce was expected to be a high draft pick but chose to return to Stanford.
Love’s senior season was nothing like 2017. Bryce rushed for 739 yards and six touchdowns. Hampered by injuries, Love played in ten games before tearing his ACL, eventually being selected in the 4th round by Washington. We have not seen Love play at the next level, and many players tend to struggle when returning from this injury. Love is next to nothing to acquire, making him a value in dynasty leagues.
Antonio Gibson is an exciting prospect. The epitome of an underdog, going from junior college transfer to pick 3.02 in the NFL draft. Gibson played two seasons at East Central Community College in Mississippi. A bit of a hybrid player, playing both wide receiver and running back with big-play potential. Gibson caught 50 passes for 871 yards, 249 rushing yards, and 13 touchdowns. Antonio also contributed on special teams returning 27 kicks for 554 yards in his two seasons at ECCC, good enough to transfer to Memphis.
Antonio Gibson was not able to see the field much his in junior season. On a loaded Tiger team with NFL players like Tony Pollard and Darrell Henderson. Gibson had to grind, eventually earning a role during his senior season. A big play waiting to happen, he caught 38 passes for 735 yards and eight scores. On the ground, he carried the ball 33 times for 369 yards and four more scores. He also returned 23 kicks for 645 yards and one score.
The facts are Gibson is a raw running back with big-play potential. He possesses elite size-adjusted athleticism with 4.39 speed. Stands 6’0″ 228 lbs, runs with strength and the ability to make defenders miss. Limited touches to this point make him risky, but Rivera and Washington like him enough to take him with high draft capital. What he lacks in touches, he makes up in effort, work ethic, will, and the consistency to get better at every level. The one thing Antonio has over every other back in Washington is his arrow is pointing up. It’s a matter of earning the right to stay on the field. Gibson is more of RB in the NFL than a WR.
The right play in this backfield may be to fade the whole situation. I see a case for Love; however, Gibson looks like the only back capable of banishing all others. Being handpicked by Rivera certainly is a plus. Add McKissic in deep leagues. Target Love as a throw-in via trades. Take Gibson in the early to mid 2nd; just be wary that he is raw. When there is all risk, find the reward. I’m betting on Antonio Gibson.