• Fantasy Wars: Aaron Jones vs Antonio Gibson

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    In this edition of Fantasy Wars, Christian Anabalon and Will Weiss face off on the topic of drafting Aaron Jones or Antonio Gibson. Christian believes the choice is Jones while Will thinks Gibson is the way to go. During your drafts, you'll decide who is right.

    Fantasy Wars Opening Arguments

    Will Weiss: Aaron Jones and Antonio Gibson are going very close in drafts. Which player is right for your team? The answer is the upside potential of Antonio Gibson. We’ve seen what Aaron Jones has to offer. While impressive, that upside is limited to what Aaron Rodgers wants to do, which is throw the ball.

    Christian Anabalon: Why do we as a community continue to doubt what Aaron Jones can provide our fantasy football teams? The Green Bay Packers running back has finished as a top-five RB for the past two years, having at least 200 touches on the ground and over 60 targets in the air.

    Being drafted around the same time is the second-year running back for the Washington Football Team, Antonio Gibson. Although Gibson has the upside to potentially be an RB1 for the 2021 season, Aaron Jones is already a lock.

    Work Load

    Will Weiss: There is some concern that Antonio Gibson will not get the passing down work. Last year we saw most targets go to J.D. McKissic. Despite that fact, we still saw Gibson receive 44 targets. Josh Jacobs finished the 2020 season with only 45 targets. The difference between Gibson’s RB #14 finish and Jacobs's RB #8 finish was 100 rushing attempts.

    We didn’t see Gibson on the field much last season. He only saw 37% of the team’s snaps, while starting in just ten games. He missed two games due to injury and saw only two touches before getting injured in week 13 against Pittsburgh.

    Even with so few touches, Gibson was able to finish the season as RB #14 in standard scoring. Had he finished the Pittsburgh game, he would have finished the season as RB #10. The upside of Antonio Gibson is untapped. He is an excellent pass catcher and is electric with the ball in his hands.

    On the Field

    You can't score points from the sidelines.

    Will Weiss: For whatever reason, the Washington Football Team didn't keep Antonio Gibson on the field for long. Only in five games was his snap percentage above 50%. J.D. McKissic was on the field constantly breaking the 70% snap threshold four times, even breaking into the eighties on occasion.

    Christian Anabalon: Out of the 14 games Aaron Jones played, he was on the field over 50% in 12 games. Aaron Jones is a trusted figure in the Green Bay Packers locker room and even earned himself a 4 year, $48 million contract. In a time where teams are parting ways with their starting running backs, the Packers are staying true to Aaron Jones.


    Will Weiss: Antonio Gibson had a TD rate of 6.47% last year. That is very high and will likely come down. However, his increased touches will balance it out.

    His overall rate will drop but the total number should remain in the same area. Gibson got the red zone touches for this team, and that will continue into next season. The offense should be better with Ryan Fitzpatrick. Expect more opportunities in the red zone for Antonio Gibson this year compared to last year.


    Christian Anabalon: Last year, the concern was AJ Dillon. This year it's Kylin Hill. These two running backs behind Aaron Jones don't sway me away from him at all. Jones will still feast.

    Jamaal Williams and AJ Dillon combined for over 160 touches and Aaron Jones was still the RB #5 in both standard and PPR.

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    The real threat to someone's value is J.D. McKissic. There are thoughts that just because Ron Rivera helped Christian McCaffrey achieve the status he has, the same will happen to Antonio Gibson. Besides last year (due to injury), CMC has had over 100 targets each year. That is what Gibson needs to reach the overall RB1 status. J.D. McKissic is that roadblock stealing valuable touches away from him.

    Offensive Lines

    Will Weiss: Aaron Jones and Antonio Gibson have offensive lines that are heading in two different directions. Jones will be running behind a line that is getting worse and has many question marks. 

    The star of the line, David Bakhtiari, is returning from a torn ACL suffered in week 17 last season. He is not likely to return in week 1 and has the potential to be gone until after week 6. Without him, the Packers line is average. In 2020 Jones averaged 2.5 yards before contact (YBC), while Gibson averaged 2.6YBC. With an improving offensive line and a better QB, it is likely we will see Gibson improve his YBC.

    Skill Players

    Christian Anabalon: Aaron Jones hasn’t needed a ridiculous amount of targets to be a top-five running back, but I believe Antonio Gibson will need them.

    Davante Adams has been the favorite target of Aaron Rodgers all while Jones has been a top fantasy running back. He was also the only Packer to receive over 100 targets.

    On the Washington Football Team, three different players received over 100 targets: Terry McLaurin, J.D. McKissic, and Logan Thomas. It is completely in the realm of possibilities that they’ll have another season with three players receiving over 100 targets, especially with the addition of Curtis Samuel. It is also likely that Gibson will again not be one of these players.

    Will Weiss: Aaron Jones has benefited from a lack of healthy and talented pass-catching options in Green Bay over the course of his career. Newly re-acquired favorite target of Aaron Rodgers, Randall Cobb will change that. No receiver saw more than 63 targets last season. Randall Cobb was a trade request of Aaron Rodgers. Expect some of the targets that would have gone to Jones behind the line of scrimmage to go to Randall Cobb.


    Will Weiss: The Alex Smith problem. Gibson was hampered by poor QB play in 2020. The season opened with Dwayne Haskins (cut mid-season), Alex Smith (retired), and Kyle Allen (third string). Alex Smith Averaged 5.1 air yards per attempt. That is less than Drew Brees (6.1) Jared Goff (6.2), Jimmy Garoppolo (6.3), and Nick Mullens (6.3). Gibson’s average depth of target (ADOT) was -.8yards. 

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    The change at QB from Smith/Haskins to Fitzpatrick will benefit Gibson. Ryan Fitzpatrick has a career average of 8.3 yards per attempt. Those extra 3.2 yards will make a huge difference. If that YPA only translated to one extra yard per catch for Gibson last year he would have been RB #11 as a rookie.

    Christian Anabalon: Let's talk about the other Aaron.

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    People may be afraid of drafting Aaron Jones in dynasty because they are unsure about how the Green Bay Packers will look if Aaron Rodgers departs.

    Fair enough, if that’s a concern of yours then feel free not to target Aaron Jones in dynasty (which I would disagree with). But this will have no effect on redraft for him this year.

    Everyone knows Aaron Rodgers has been a gunslinger and will continue. Aaron Jones has received his touches regardless and will do so this upcoming year and the following ones.

    Fantasy Wars Closing Arguments

    Will Weiss: Gibson is still a developing running back talent. He only saw 33 carries at the college level. The running back position is more than just understanding the offensive plays. The best running backs must be able to understand blitz schemes and pickups.

    This off-season, head coach Ron Rivera has been quoted as saying that Gibson will be utilized more as a pass-catcher than in the past. Rivera hinted at having both McKissic and Gibson on the field in passing situations. The plan would be to run Gibson out as a receiver and leave McKissic in the backfield as a blocker.

    Gibson played wide receiver before transitioning to running back. Gibson would be a mismatch for even the most athletic of LBs when he lines up as a WR.

    Christian Anabalon: I know Antonio Gibson is appealing after the year he posted last season. I understand that we should look to target younger backs (especially in dynasty). I get all of these things.

    However, if faced with the choice of Antonio Gibson and Aaron Jones when the draft comes around, lean towards the Green Bay Packers starting running back. Jones will be on the field more than Gibson this year and receive more touches. There’s less of a threat on the depth chart and a lot more fantasy points ahead of him for the time to come.

    Thank you for reading Fantasy Wars! You can follow Will on Twitter at @FF_SkinnyChef, and find more of his work on his IDP Guys author page. You can follow Christian on Twitter at @FFCAnabalon, and find more of his work on his author page. To stay updated on everything from the IDP Guys, follow us on Twitter @IDPGuys or on Instagram IDP Guys. Stay tuned for more Fantasy Wars to come!
    If you'd like to take a closer look at the IDP Guys' ADP, click here! If you're interested in a deeper dive on second-year running backs, here's an article on them by @Clintonholgren!
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