How Should You Handle Washington's Backfield in Fantasy Football?
The Washington Redskins had the second-worst record in 2019 and finished 22nd in rushing yards per game (98.6) as one-of-11 teams that failed to hit the century mark on the ground. Washington was led by future Hall-of-Famer, Adrian Peterson and after two seasons full of injuries, the hope is Derrius Guice is ready to split more of a load behind Dwayne Haskins.
If not, the Redskins went out and drafted Memphis athlete Antonio Gibson who is expected to play running back and can line up in the slot as well. With all the names in the backfield, who is worth owning in 2020 fantasy football, if any?
Running Back Committee
Peterson is 35-years-old entering the 2020 season while Guice will be 23 and Gibson 22. Peterson is the veteran presence in the locker room but carried the load with 211 carries in 15 games, for 898 yards and 5 touchdowns. Guice did have 42 rushes for 245 yards and two touchdowns -- but missed significant time once again with a meniscus tear in Week 1 and an MCL sprain in Week 14 of 2019. As a rookie in 2018, Guice tore his ACL in the preseason and missed his entire first season in Washington. With a 35-year-old starter and injury-hammered running back two, Gibson was a solid selection in the third round.
The Redskins ran the ball the second-fewest times per game (22.2) in 2019, only ahead of the Dolphins. Washington called a run 40.23% of the time last season and a lowly 38.85% in eight home games. The second-season under Haskins may feature more pass plays, but even in Carolina, Head Coach Ron Rivera only ran the ball 24.1 times per game (24th) -- opting to get his running backs involved in the offense via the receiving game. If Guice can do a third of the damage -- Christian McCaffrey did under Rivera last season -- he would be well worth his ADP.
Per FantasyFootballCalculator, Guice is going light years ahead of Peterson as expected. Guice is set at 6.06 giving him an average overall spot of 65.9. Peterson's is on average the end of the 13th round going 13.11 giving him a 155.0 overall ADP in PPR leagues. In standard leagues, Guice's stock is rising as his ADP is 56.3 and 5.08, almost an entire round higher. For Peterson, he falls a few slots to 14.05 and 161.1 in non-PPR.
Don't ever think about or worry about Gibson's ADP as no one besides a true Redskins-fanatic will draft him but Gibson should be on your watch list in case Guice goes down for the third-consecutive season. Chris Thompson led the Washington running backs with 42 receptions and 378 yards, both ranking second on the team behind Terry McLaurin. Thompson joined the Jaguars, leaving a large void in the passing game. Guice caught seven-of-nine passes in 2019 for 79 yards and a touchdown, while Peterson caught 17-of-23 for 142 yards.
The Redskins' offensive line finished 2019 ranked 13th according to Pro Football Focus led by guard Brandon Scherff. Washington finally dealt with long-time offensive tackle, Trent Williams, as the team starts to look towards the future under Ron Rivera. If this is the case, Guice is certainly worth a stab as a flex option in fantasy, while Peterson and Gibson are best served as free agent priorities if something were to happen to Guice.
Should You Take a Chance on Guice?
If he falls to the sixth or seventh round, yes. Given Guice's injury history and the fact he's only appeared in five very limited games, I wouldn't peg him as a fifth-round option, or sixth for that matter. His ceiling is high when healthy, and I expect him to take the bulk of Thompson's leftover production with the 35-year-old Peterson being limited in the passing game.
Guice shouldn't be one of your targeted running backs, but if you find yourself missing out on an RB2 or Flex -- and he falls into your lap -- he could be that difference-maker that alters your season because he's healthy. Valuable fantasy running backs are hard to come by. Though 28 backs averaged at least 10.0 half-PPR points per game over 8 or more games last year, only 13 averaged at least 14.0 points per game.
Guice, in his five games, averaged 10.8 while playing in the NFL’s 29th-ranked offense, per numberFire’s metrics. With better health and a second year from Dwayne Haskins, Guice can flirt with the top of the RB2 tier.
If healthy, he can be a top-25 fantasy back this season, but that it is too big for me after three different and major knee injuries before 23-years-old. Let him fall in your lap after his ADP passes as you should be able to get some value on Guice even if it's for a few games.