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Rapid Reaction: Adrian Peterson Cut Makes Way For New Blood In Washington

Adrian Peterson, the likely Hall-of-Fame running back, was cut Friday morning by the Washington Football Team.

The surprise move has fantasy owners clamoring for his successor as we have been unable to get more than glimpses in practice of rookie Antonio Gibson or second year back, Bryce Love.

While most advice will tell you to jump on the Antonio Gibson bandwagon and ride it to a championship, I’m entering this thought experiment with a contrarian viewpoint.

This is not to say that Antonio Gibson isn’t extremely talented, or that he won’t have great production in the NFL and on fantasy squads. However, let’s not forget that the entirety of his career at Memphis consisted of 77 touches (33 rushes, 44 catches.)

He sported crazy elusiveness metrics forcing missed tackles at an exceptional rate. However, this is the NFL, not a Group of Five conference opponent.

I’m going to let my league-mates race to the waiver wire and bid their FAAB to acquire Gibson, while I sneak in and grab Love at a discount. Remember, Love was a fourth round pick AFTER he tore his ACL in his final college game.

He likely could have been a second round pick (Gibson was a third rounder) if he had remained healthy. However, unlike Gibson, we’ve seen what Love can do while carrying the load.

In his junior year at Stanford (the year following Christian McCaffrey’s departure to the NFL), Love rushed for over 2,000 yards on 263 carries (8.1 ypc) – against a PAC12 schedule, no less.

He also tallied 49 receptions over his four years (including 15 in his Freshman year,) so he is a capable receiver. While Gibson will have the edge for receiving work, and Love has competition for carries from Peyton Barber, too, I can see multiple paths for Love to emerge as the back to own.

1) Gibson can’t hold up against an NFL schedule. He’s looked great in practice, but this year especially, there has been limited contact allowed with no preseason games to get live tackling from opponents who don’t have a vested interest in keeping you healthy for the regular season.

2) Love is actually the better player. While less likely, given the rave reviews of Gibson in camp, Love has talent of his own and continues to improve post ACL injury. After having a “redshirt” year to recover, perhaps he regains his form when he was a Heisman Trophy candidate and takes over the backfield throughout the season.

As a quick summary, if Gibson is available, obviously do what you can to acquire him. He’s a talented player, with opportunity in front of him and a coaching staff that wants to get him the ball in creative ways. I think he should be in the conversation as early as the fifth round at this point (as a back end RB2 in PPR leagues.)

However, don’t be dismayed if someone beats you to him. The discount option will have significantly less interest, and Bryce Love could turn a profit very easily.

I’d target Love starting in the 8th or 9th round in the range of the top end handcuffs (Alexander Mattison, Tony Pollard, Latavius Murray, Chase Edmonds.) Gibson becomes a priority target in Dynasty Leagues, where his upside is undeniable and a strong hit from him can carry you to multiple championships.

He should be considered in the 1.06-1.08 range of 2020 rookie drafts depending on how you feel about the Cam Akers and De’Andre Swift (I still have those RBs ahead of Gibson,) and I’d be willing to acquire him and feel great if I could get him for a projected late 2021 pick (good luck, now!)

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