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Washington’s Backfield Without Derrius Guice: Addition By Subtraction?


Less than a month ago, we took an in-depth fantasy look at the Washington Football Team's (otherwise known as the 'Washington No Names') backfield situation. Back then, Washington's RB unit looked to be a free-for-all brawl. The odds favored Derrius Guice getting a majority of the backfield’s early-down work. Adrian Peterson was set up to be a handcuff and a goal-line vulture, while Antonio Gibson would steal nearly half the passing down work.

A lot has changed since then.

Obviously, the biggest player news to come out of the NFL in general over the past few weeks is Guice’s domestic violence arrest and subsequent release. That was not the only change to come in this backfield, however. Since our last article, Bryce Love has also been medically cleared for contact, and the No Names have officially announced that Gibson would be spending time with their receivers group during camp. That's a decent amount of news to come out in a short period, so what should fantasy managers make of it?

 

Addition By Subtraction

Surprisingly, the answer to this question may be that Washington's backfield is easier to evaluate and value in fantasy without its best runner on the roster.

While it is true that Guice averaged more yards after contact (5.07 yards per carry) last year than what all but five NFL running backs averaged overall, it is also true that Guice was impossible to trust. He was a talented but injury-prone lead in a four-headed monster. It was hardly a situation where you felt safe investing in a lead back or his backups.

With Guice gone, the dynamic shifts, and the situation gets a little more predictable.

Washington now has three real mouths to feed in its backfield, rather than four. That alone should concentrate the snaps/touches on Dan Snyder’s football team, which helps consolidate fantasy points/value. Guice’s release also rids Washington of its biggest injury risk, and removes one of fantasy's most prominent question marks from fantasy boards altogether. One final thing Guice’s exodus does, is it gives fantasy managers the ability to accurately identify and value the specific roles of players like Peterson, Gibson, and Love.

Let’s take a more in-depth look at each of these players, the situation they are playing in, and how they could impact your fantasy team this season.

 

What Kind of Offense Will Washington Run?

As was discussed in our article last month, Scott Turner is the primary play-caller in Washington this year. Turner has a limited history as the primary play-caller in the NFL, but both he and his father (Norv Turner) have a long history of specializing in QB and WR coaching. That history alone indicates that Turner will favor the passing game.

Adding to Washington’s pass crazy prospects is the fact that Turner called at least 65% pass plays in each of the four games he coordinated last season. During the two real blowouts that he coordinated in, Turner dialed up the volume of his pass plays to the tune of 71.1%. During that time, Christian McCaffrey averaged just 13 carries per game, but his passing game targets increased significantly. In fact, 33% of McCaffrey’s 2019 targets came in his four games under Turner.

While it is easy to point out that Turner’s history as a coordinator is limited to four games, each of which involved his team being down early, there is no reason to believe Turner won’t be coaching from behind in 2020 just as much as he was in 2019. Washington's defense last year allowed the sixth-most points in the NFL, and while they just added Chase Young and Kendall Fuller, they also lost their best corners in Josh Norman and Quinton Dunbar. That defense is about to stack up against a lot of intimidating offenses, too. Their 2020 opponents include the Cowboys (twice), 49ers, Rams, Ravens, Seahawks, Steelers, and Eagles (twice). It is fair to expect Washington to trail in most of these games, often by a lot, and that they will have to throw a ton to catch up.

A pass-heavy game script should help the fantasy prospects of a back like Gibson, while limiting players like Peterson and Peyton Barber (if he makes the roster).

 

Will A Lead Back Emerge With Guice Gone?

As we have already covered, Ron Rivera has shown a strong preference for running back timeshares (referred to as RBBC’s herein) during his time as an NFL head coach. For a good part of his career in Carolina, Rivera split his RB carries and production evenly between DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. Christian McCaffrey was the only back to earn a genuine workhorse role under Riverboat Ron.

There is no CMC in Washington, nothing even close.

Given Rivera’s history of using RBBCs, fantasy managers should not expect a fantasy star to break out of Washington’s backfield in 2020. While Gibson, Peterson, and Love each hold some fantasy value this season, their ceiling is likely capped by their roles in this offense and their limitations as players (be it age, inexperience, pass blocking, etc.). That means you should not use a top-100 pick on any of these players in redrafts or dynasty leagues.

 

What To Make Of Antonio Gibson, Washington’s New “It” Toy

Gibson was already a popular commodity in dynasty leagues before Guice was released, but you should expect his fantasy hype to grow out of control over the next few weeks. His name will likely grace the lips of Matthew Berry over 100 times come Monday, and he will be a popular name on every sleeper and breakout list as well. And why wouldn’t people be excited about an athletic freak capable of playing both wide receiver and running back?

At 6’0” and 220-pounds, Gibson has the physical frame to be a workhorse back in the NFL. He is a well-built and well-balanced runner with superior top-end speed (4.39-seconds on the 40-yard dash) and decent hands. At first glance, he seems a perfect fit for Washington's new passing offense, too. I mean, the guy played both the wide receiver and running back positions in college, and he is getting mentioned in the same breath as CMC by Ron Rivera and others. Those kinds of measurables and high praise guarantees a big rookie season and a Hall of Fame career, right?!

Not necessarily.

A closer look at Gibson’s skillset suggests that he is not the next Christian McCaffrey. Instead, Gibson’s closest comp as a prospect seems to be… Cordarrelle Patterson?

Consider the following:

  • Both Gibson and Patterson were JUCO transfers who lacked polish and a true position in college.
  • Both Gibson and Patterson split their time between receiver and running back, with very similar stats.
    • Gibson had 38 catches for 735 yards receiving, plus 33 rushes for 369 yards rushing during his final college season.
    • Patterson had 46 catches for 778 yards receiving, plus 25 attempts for 308 yards rushing during his final college season.
  • Both Gibson and Patterson tantalized NFL owners and fantasy managers alike with their elite size and Combine numbers.
    • Gibson measured 73-inches tall and 220-pounds; Patterson measured 73.88-inches and 216-pounds.
    • Gibson ran a 4.39 on the 40-yard dash; Patterson ran a 4.42.
    • Gibson’s vertical was 35-inches; Patterson’s was 37-inches.
    • Gibson ran a 2.57-second 20-yard split; Patterson a 2.61.
    • Gibson ran a 1.55-second 10-yard split; Patterson a 1.60.

While Gibson’s lack of polish and/or position might (note I said 'might') mean he never becomes a fantasy or NFL star, he can still average 7-10 PPR points per game for your fantasy team in a rotational role. Remember that Ty Montgomery earned dual eligibility as an RB/WR in 2016 while scoring 142.5 PPR fantasy points and averaging 9.5 PPR points per game. While Gibson is a superior athlete to Montgomery, 9.5 PPR points per game is a fair expectation for Gibson’s rookie year average, considering he could be learning two separate NFL positions as he goes.

Gibson’s current ADP is 181st overall, but you should expect that number to blow up over the next few weeks. Gibson is a value in dynasty leagues around pick 115, and in redrafts around pick 120. However, taking him higher than this range would mean you are paying a premium for his ceiling and ignoring his floor.

 

Is Adrian Peterson Still Only A Handcuff?

A month ago, Adrian Peterson’s fantasy football relevancy was seemingly tied to the health of Derrius Guice. Peterson was set to cede at least half of the rushing work to Guice, and he wasn’t likely to get many catches with Gibson and Guice on the roster, either. That limited involvement had Peterson looking more and more like a handcuff, who only belonged on a fantasy roster in deep standard scoring leagues.

Oh, what a difference a month makes.

With Guice now gone, Peterson’s snap and touch share looks to increase into a fantasy-relevant range. The Sooners legend has an established leadership role on this squad, and even at 35, he is a more experienced and reliable runner than Peyton Barber or Gibson. Peterson’s ball security, ability to grind out first downs after contact, and his leadership will also win him favor with Rivera. Expect the veteran to see a vast majority of Washington’s early-down work early in the season, now that his main competition for that job was cut.

While Peterson should maintain a noteworthy early-down role this year, his production should dip some from last year. Remember that in 2019, 79% of Peterson’s fantasy points came on the ground, and 33% of them came in the four games that he was given 18+ rushing attempts. The man known as ‘All Day’ is unlikely to run all day in Turner’s pass-heavy scheme.

Though you should expect Peterson’s output to decline this year, his current ADP of 233rd overall is low, considering that Guice is gone. Look to draft the OU alum closer to pick 160 in standard scoring and pick 180 in PPR. Think about handcuffing him with Love late in your drafts, too, if you want to ensure you have Washington's primary backfield runner (not receiver).

 

Did Derrius Guice Just Make Bryce Love’s Career?

Bryce Love is a puzzle wrapped in a riddle.

The opinions about his ceiling and floor as a pro prospect are wide-ranging, and they were that way even before he lost the past two years to a severe knee injury. Many see elite pro potential in Love’s junior year breakout at Stanford, when he flashed great top-end speed while challenging for the Heisman and putting up 2,118 rushing yards in a single season. Others are less sold on Love, dropping him entirely off their boards because of his recurring knee injury, below-average size, and lack of passing game involvement in college.

Considering all of this, it is fair for you, as a fantasy manager, to wonder what to make of this Stanford Tree now that he is healthy and faces less competition for touches than he did a week ago.

Three weeks ago, the answer to this question was considerably less optimistic than it is now. Back then, this former Cardinal hero was fighting merely for a roster spot. He was locked into a five-way competition in which he had little room for error or injury.

Today is a different story.

Now, Love is a nearly sure bet to make the roster, and he is being presented with a real opportunity to earn meaningful snaps and opportunities in camp. That opportunity to prove himself in camp and earn snaps with the first or second-team could be huge for Love. Camp snaps will be critical for many young and unproven players this year, with no pre-season games to establish themselves in. Odds now favor Love earning at least a backup role out of camp, and possibly more.

While Peterson will likely pose an obstacle to Love’s ascension, the second-year runner has an outside shot at unseating the veteran as Washington's lead rusher at some point this season. Considering that Love has an outside chance of becoming Washington's primary ball carrier, his current undrafted ADP is a bargain. Invest one of your final two or three draft picks in Love if you are doing a deep redraft or dynasty startup, and add Love to your bench if you've already drafted in your deep league, and he is on waivers.



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Fantasy GMs are to be commended for rising to the unique challenges that have unfolded during this regular season. Injuries to critical players is an unwelcome reality that occurs every year. This is also the case for backs that were expected to operate as RB1s, but have been relegated to committees. However, this season has... Read More


Wide Receiver Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 7

Six weeks of NFL football are behind us, aside from a pair of Monday games, including a late afternoon game between the Bills and the Chiefs. In terms of wide receiver production this week, we didn't have the huge breakouts like we had in Week 5. Chase Claypool didn't score four touchdowns. In fact, only... Read More


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Dissecting Contact Quality In Search Of Fantasy Bargains

Of the 1,015 hitters sampled(1) between 2015 and 2019, there were only 14 instances of hitters making more productive contact against pitches outside of the strike zone than against pitches inside of the strike zone based on xwOBAcon. Based on the same sample, the average hitter was a whopping .116 points better against pitches inside... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 23rd, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 23rd, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Lineup Order Risers and Fallers: AL West 2020 Review

It’s the offseason and there are about to be a bunch of moving parts. This allows for speculation in terms of players gaining or losing playing time, moving up or down a batting order and much more. The idea here is to highlight some lineup situations for each team and some potential winners or losers... Read More


2021 1st & 2nd Year Players with James Anderson - Benched with Bubba (Episode 317)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by James Anderson (@RealJRAnderson) on episode 317. The guys will go over 30+ first and second-year players. They will discuss their current ADP's in the 2 Early Mocks, what to expect of the players in 2021, and much more. They also go over some listener questions, compare Juan Soto to Mike... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 21st, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 21st, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 20th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 20th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Bubba and Bat Flip 54: 2 Early Mocks APD Player Debates - Benched with Bubba (Episode 316)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by Bat Flip Crazy (@BatFlipCrazy) to take a deeper look at the 2 Early Mocks ADP. They go over some of the positions and look at players with similar ADPs and debate. Going around the diamond discussing some players people are high on and some they are down on with a... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 18th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 18th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 17th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 17th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


2021 Early Mock ADP Values & Reaches: WPC+ Videocast

Pierre Camus and Nicklaus Gaut prepare for the 2021 fantasy baseball season with a look at early mock draft results from the RotoBaller Expert mock. Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us on iTunes and BlogTalkRadio as well! Be sure to also tune into RotoBaller... Read More


Statcast Season Review: 2020 Barrel Leaders (Hitters)

The 2020 MLB season will always be one for the record books, even if everything that took place will have multiple asterisks attached to it. Evaluating Statcast numbers is a nice way to find hot and cold hitters, as well as underachievers and overachievers. Now that the regular season is over, let's reflect on the... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 16th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 16th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 15th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 15th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 14th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 14th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Bubba and Bat Flip 53: 2 Early Mocks APD Trends & More - Benched with Bubba (Episode 315)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by Bat Flip Crazy (@BatFlipCrazy) to take a deeper look at the 2 Early Mocks ADP. They dig into trends, some interesting risers/fallers, and much more. They also go over some listener questions at the end to keep the Fantasy Baseball information coming even in the offseason. Be sure to subscribe... Read More