The case for Lions running back Jahmyr Gibbs as the RB1 in dynasty

There's plenty of competition, but here's why Lions running back Jahmyr Gibbs is the No. 1 running back in dynasty fantasy football leagues.

Mike Mulholland/GettyImages
facebooktwitterreddit

With a relative lack of usage early this season, less than nine carries in three of the first four games, some people in the fantasy football community lost their minds. Then he missed two games with a hamstring injury.

But from Week 7 on (through Week 17), Gibbs was the RB3 in standard, 0.5-point PPR and full point PPR. He had at least 11 carries in eight of those 10 games, with 10 total touchdowns and 38 receptions. And this was with David Montgomery remaining well-involved (135 touches, seven rushing scores from Week 9 on).

Montgomery is not going anywhere, under contract through 2025. So that puts a ceiling on Gibbs' fantasy outlook for the next couple of years. But Montgomery also missed three games this season, and we saw what that looked like for Gibbs.

Week 3, Atlanta Falcons: 17 carries for 80 yards; one catch for two yards
Week 7, Baltimore Ravens: 11 carries for 68 yards, 1 touchdown; nine catches for 58 yards
Week 8, Las Vegas Raiders: 26 carries for 152 yards, 1 touchdown; five catches for 37 yards

The low-water mark for Gibbs in those three games (Week 3) was RB2 range depending on scoring format. He was a top-5 fantasy running back, regardless of scoring format, the other two weeks.

Fantasy Football: The case for Jahmyr Gibbs as the RB1 in dynasty

With the 2023 fantasy football season behind us, the mindset shifts to dynasty/keeper leagues for those who are in them. In terms of the top running backs in dynasty, Bijan Robinson is the easy No. 1, especially now with the prospect of a new play-caller in Atlanta that may actually use him a lot. Some may like New York Jets running back Breece Hall, on the idea the situation around him can only be better moving forward.

Then there's Gibbs, surely in the top tier of dynasty running backs but not No. 1 for most people (if any).

But here's why Gibbs is the RB1 in dynasty this year.

Situation

Yes, Lions' offensive coordinator Ben Johnson may end up taking a head coaching job. But an internal candidate will likely be first in line to replace him if so (passing game coordinator Tanner Engstrand? Running backs coach Scottie Montgomery?), and even an outside hire will have to mesh with head coach Dan Campbell's preference for a run-centric offense.

So even with Montgomery to take a lot of work, Gibbs will still get plenty and he has the added element of being a dynamic passing game weapon. Gibbs was also entrusted with a good share of goal line work as this season went on.

Even if Johnson leaves, the Lions still have the pieces to be among the best offenses in the NFL in 2024 (and until further notice).

More touches?

When it was all said and done, Gibbs ended up with 244 touches during his rookie season (182 carries, 52 receptions; through Week 18). But 22 carries over the three games Montgomery was active for early in the season, and three or fewer targets in the passing game in three of the last four games, hints at room for more touches overall. And as mentioned, he missed two games.

College usage

Any conversation about the future fantasy prospects for a running back has to have some roots in his college usage.

Over three college seasons at Georgia Tech and Alabama, Gibbs had 383 carries and a total of 487 touches.

Over the same three seasons at Texas, Robinson had 539 carries and another 60 receptions. Robinson's 2022 campaign alone (258 carries) exceeds or nearly equals any two of Gibbs' college seasons in terms of carries.

Over the 2019-2021 seasons at Iowa State, Hall had 718 carries (over 250 carries twice) and 800 total touches. He also suffered a torn ACL during his rookie season with the Jets in 2022, though he clearly recovered nicely.

Some people default to Robinson as the RB1 in dynasty fantasy football right now. Some others go with Hall. The reasoning behind either is sound.

But the combination of situation (with more certainty right now), potential untapped upside for touch volume and fresher legs based on lighter usage in college like Gibbs has should put him atop of the heap of dynasty running backs right now. He's being too easily bumped down a peg in that conversation.

Next. Fantasy Football: 5 sleepers in the Wild Card Round of NFL playoffs. Fantasy Football: 5 sleepers in the Wild Card Round of NFL playoffs. dark