The one Commanders RB Matthew Berry would draft in fantasy originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
The Commanders have at least three viable running back options in their backfield this season. And while that may help them win games on Sundays, it creates a bit of a headache for fantasy football managers.
Antonio Gibson is the presumed starter, but third-round rookie Brian Robinson Jr. had a strong preseason debut, projects as a great short-yardage runner and figures to occupy a share of the carries, while J.D. McKissic contributes more on third down.
So if there was one running back in this three-man running back committee fantasy managers should draft, who should it be? NBC Sports' fantasy football guru Matthew Berry is still bullish on Gibson.
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"I still think Gibson is the guy you want," Berry told NBC Sports Washington's Wes Hall. "I know, bad preseason game and the usage was weird when he was in with the 2's. I just think Gibson is too talented. This is a player that came in with this staff, so for me, I'm not panicking just yet."
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Gibson was incredibly productive as a rookie (11 TDs) and eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark in his second season with Washington. However, fumbles (six) and a few injuries including a shin fracture, prevented him from establishing himself as one of the best fantasy targets at his position.
In PPR formats, McKissic's presence on the roster is troubling for Gibson after they posted nearly identical target and reception numbers last season. If Robinson Jr. starts to take away goal-line opportunities, that's where we could see Gibson's fantasy value suffer.
But Ron Rivera isn't a stranger to feeding more than one running back a healthy dose of carries. His best teams in Carolina featured multi-faceted rushing attacks headlined by DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and later on, quarterback Cam Newton.
"You go back to the ground and pound days that [Rivera] had in Carolina where DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart both got significant touches," Berry said. I think in an ideal world, [Washington] has roles for [every running back]. They have Antonio Gibson, they drafted Brian Robinson Jr. to save on the wear and tear of Gibson, who obviously played hurt last year, and then McKissic was important for them to bring back because of everything he brings to the passing game."
As of now, Gibson is projected to get drafted somewhere between rounds 4 and 5 in 12-team fantasy drafts along with other running backs like Miles Sanders, Josh Jacobs, Breece Hall, Ezekiel Elliott and Eli Mitchell. All four of those players find themselves in a running back committee of sorts since so few backs are true "bell cows" like Derrick Henry and Jonathan Taylor.
If Gibson or Robinson Jr. miss time or see their playing time dwindle over the course of the season, it'd be beneficial for fantasy managers who have either of those players. But assuming all three are healthy, Gibson is Berry's pick.
"It is a bit of a three-headed monster, but if I had to pick one of them, I think it's still Antonio Gibson despite what we saw [vs. Carolina]," Berry said.