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The 5 O’Clock Club: Player overs/unders for 2023 - RB edition

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere…

Washington Commanders Off-Season Workout Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

The 5 o’clock club is published from time to time during the season, and aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.

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I set the over/under. You vote. Feel free to explain why in the comments.

Initial 53-man roster

Ron Rivera has been a bit inconsistent with the number of players at each position that he has put onto the 53-man roster to start each season. For example, you can see from the chart below that he has started with either 3 or 4 RBs and between 5 and 7 WRs in his three-year tenure in Washington. When combining the two positions, he entered 2020 & 2022 with 9 players, and 2021 with 10 when he kept DeAndre Carter as a specialist return man.

In 2020, Rivera made the surprising decision to let Adrian Peterson go, keeping four running backs — Antonio Gibson, Peyton Barber, JD McKissic and Bryce Love — but Love was moved to IR at the start of October and never really played for the team.

It seems very likely that coach Rivera goes into the 2023 season with 3 RBs if the team feels confident in rookie Chris Rodriguez; however, there may be factors at play that would convince the coach to start the season with 4 RBs. One factor could be the desire to keep pressure off of 6th round pick Rodriguez initially by having a veteran like Jonathan Williams on the roster as a 4th back. It may also be that the coaching staff could decide, as they did in 2020, to enter the season with just 5 wide receivers — especially if they don’t keep a specialist return man like Kazmeir Allen. The coaches could see Antonio Gibson as having the skills to line up as a receiver when needed, allowing the team the luxury of keeping a 4th running back with position flexibility.


Number of Running Backs on the initial 53-man roster - 3.5

This poll is closed

  • 42%
    (74 votes)
  • 57%
    (100 votes)
174 votes total Vote Now

Brian Robinson

Last year, Brian Robinson rushed for 797 yards in just 12 games (66.4 yards per game), but he did it based on a lot of carries (17 per game), not a strong per-carry average (3.9 ypc).

That pace of 66.4 yards per game equates to 1,130 yards in a 17-game season.

Last year, Washington rushed for 126 yards per game; the Chiefs, with Eric Bieniemy as the offensive coordinator, rushed for 116 yards per game.


Brian Robinson rushing yards per game - 70 (equates to 1,190 yards in 17 games)

This poll is closed

  • 51%
    (97 votes)
  • 48%
    (90 votes)
187 votes total Vote Now

Chris Rodriquez

Chris Rodriguez was a 6th round pick in the 2023 draft, but post-draft reporting indicates that the Commanders decision-makers were much higher on him than that draft position would indicate.

In college, Rodriguez redshirted his freshman year, and he was suspended for the first 4 games of the 2022 season at Kentucky, but he compiled just over 3,000 yards in 30 games in his final 3 seasons, averaging 5.9 yards per carry.

Rushing & Receiving Table
Rushing Receiving Scrimmage
Year School Conf Class Pos G Att Yds Avg TD Rec Yds Avg TD Plays Yds Avg TD
*2018 Kentucky SEC FR RB 1 2 43 21.5 0 0 0 0 2 43 21.5 0
*2019 Kentucky SEC FR RB 9 71 533 7.5 6 1 2 2.0 0 72 535 7.4 6
*2020 Kentucky SEC SO RB 9 119 785 6.6 11 1 12 12.0 0 120 797 6.6 11
*2021 Kentucky SEC JR RB 13 225 1378 6.1 10 13 61 4.7 3 238 1439 6.0 13
*2022 Kentucky SEC SR RB 8 175 904 5.2 6 5 41 8.2 0 180 945 5.3 6
Career Kentucky 592 3643 6.2 33 20 116 5.8 3 612 3759 6.1 36
Provided by CFB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 6/25/2023.

Although Rodriguez was not used as a receiver much at Kentucky, his college coach has indicated that the rookie running back has the ability to catch passes in the NFL, and reports from OTAs and minicamp have supported that idea.


Offensive snaps (average) for rookie RB Chris Rodriguez — 8 per game [136 over 17 games]

This poll is closed

  • 37%
    (63 votes)
  • 62%
    (106 votes)
169 votes total Vote Now

Antonio Gibson

Antonio Gibson is primarily a running back, not a receiver; he has carried the ball 577 times in three seasons, and been targeted on passing plays just 154 times. However, as Brian Robinson got healthier last year, Gibson’s carries were more limited. He averaged 13 rushes per game in the first 4 weeks of the 2022 season when Robinson was on IR, but from Week 5 to Week 15, he had 7 games in which he had between 3 and 9 carries.

Gibson was consistently targeted in the passing game, however. The only game of the season in which he was not targeted at least 3 times was the Week 3 loss to the Eagles. JD McKissic was still healthy in that game and had 6 receptions on 9 targets.

With McKissic now completely gone and a new west coast offense being installed (along with a heavy dose of screen plays according to early reports), it seems likely that Gibson will be more targeted in the passing game than ever before in his NFL career.


Number of times Antonio Gibson will be targeted in the passing game in the 2023 season - 69.5

This poll is closed

  • 67%
    (116 votes)
  • 32%
    (57 votes)
173 votes total Vote Now