Adrian Peterson, Antonio Gibson Fantasy Outlook After Derrius Guice's Release

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 8, 2020

Washington Redskins' Adrian Peterson speaks after winning the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award at the NFL Honors football award show Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020, in Miami. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

Ageless wonder Adrian Peterson could once again find himself leading the Washington Football Team backfield in 2020, a distinction that warrants attention in fantasy football circles.

The complexion of the Washington backfield situation shifted Friday night when the team announced Derrius Guice was released after being arrested on domestic violence charges. Guice only made five appearances across two years with the organization because of injuries.

Peterson, 35, becomes the favorite to start for the NFC East club, but a crowded depth chart and likely committee approach will make it difficult for any of the team's rushers to achieve high-end fantasy value.

The 2012 MVP recorded his eighth career 1,000-yard rushing season during his first year with Washington in 2018 and remained productive last year with 898 yards on 211 attempts (4.3 YPC) with five touchdowns.

He averaged 15.4 carries across his final five games last season, and the figure should be similar to open the 2020 campaign while the backfield situation sorts itself out after the preseason was canceled.

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Peterson is worth targeting somewhere around the seventh or eighth round in 12-team fantasy drafts. He's also a player who will be worth putting on the trade market if he gets off to a hot start, however, because maintaining big-time production could prove difficult with four other rushers fighting for touches.

Rookie Antonio Gibson, Peyton Barber, Bryce Love and J.D. McKissic are the other running backs on Washington's roster for training camp.

Gibson presents the most upside and should be selected somewhere in the same range as Peterson. He's coming off a strong senior season at Memphis where he worked in a dual rushing–receiving role, racking up 1,104 yards from scrimmage and 12 touchdowns in 14 games.

He comes with more risk than Peterson because a bad camp could find him buried on the depth chart, whereas the seven-time Pro Bowl selection is a virtual lock for 10-plus weekly touches when healthy.

Gibson will carry some added value in PPR formats, where he could emerge as a locked-in fantasy starter if he becomes the team's exclusive third-down option.

Barber, Love and McKissic are nothing more than late-round fliers, pending information out of training camp.

Barber and Love could be fighting for a single spot unless Washington opts to carry five running backs on its final roster. The winner of that competition will be the favorite to handle extra early-down work should Peterson get hurt.

McKissic, who recorded 34 catches for the Detroit Lions last season, would be the biggest beneficiary should Gibson struggle to find his footing.