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Honestly, when I saw that one of the Washington Commanders was named as a potential 2023 “Bounceback” player, I simply assumed that PFF was going to focus on Chase Young, who never looked quite right in the three games he played at the end of the Commanders’ 2022 season as he continued the rehabilitation of the knee he injured in ‘21.
I was kind of shocked to see, instead, the name of running back Antonio Gibson, who had over 1,000 yards from scrimmage, the highest yards-per-touch average of his career, and a career-high of 11 touchdowns in 2022 (following a 10-TD effort in 2021). It became a little clearer, however, when I saw that it was a fantasy-football article.
Here’s what PFF had to say about Antonio Gibson as a ‘bounceback’ candidate:
Gibson missed just two games in 2022 but finished as the RB28 in PPR scoring, which was a significant fall after finishing as RB8 and RB14 in 2021 and 2020, respectively. So, what changed? The first thing that stands out was fewer opportunities for snaps with Gibson going from a 57% snap share in 2021 down to 46% in 2022. This was a result of the team going away from him as a ball carrier, as he saw over 100 fewer carries this past season. This also led to a significant drop-off in how often he touched the ball overall, as he went from a 51.5% touch rate in 2021 to 41.0% in 2022, which was clearly significant for his overall fantasy finish.
With Eric Bienemy coming in as the new offensive coordinator, Gibson’s opportunity to be more involved in the offense should improve from last season. Bienemy comes over from the Kansas City Chiefs where they’ve used a more even deployment at running back in recent years, including a reliance on a pass-catching back that allowed Jerick McKinnon to finish as RB20 this past season in PPR scoring. With a better opportunity and some positive regression after finishing with the fourth-worst fantasy points below expected total (-25.1) for running backs, there’s a lot of room for improvement to get back in that top-24 range.
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