Will Antonio Gibson Have a Significant 2024 Fantasy Football Impact on Rhamondre Stevenson?

Rhamondre Stevenson will no longer be a three-down workhorse.

While seemingly every fantasy-relevant running back in the league was changing teams in free agency, the Patriots quietly inked Antonio Gibson to a three-year deal worth up to $17.25 million. He’ll be paired up in the Patriot backfield with Rhamondre Stevenson, who is entering the final year of his rookie deal.

Gibson was primarily used as a pass-catching back in Washington, catching 172 passes for 1,283 yards in his four-year stint with the Commanders, but he’s just a few years removed from a 1,000-yard rushing season in 2021 when deployed in more of a lead-back role.

With the Patriots adding a player with Gibson’s third-down skill set, it appears Rhamondre Stevenson’s workhorse role is in jeopardy. Let’s dive into how Antonio Gibson will impact Stevenson’s 2024 fantasy outlook, and what Gibson’s outlook will look like in New England.

ANTONIO GIBSON 2024 FANTASY OUTLOOK WITH PATRIOTS

With Stevenson set to return to lead-back duties and Ezekiel Elliott out of the picture, Gibson, who played a good deal of wide receiver in college, figures to remain primarily a third-down receiving option on his new team. This role in New England has been filled by guys ranging from Kevin Faulk to Shane Vereen to Dion Lewis, but James White did it most recently — and most impactfully.

But unlike White, who never rushed for over 425 yards in a season, Gibson has proven to be a capable early-down back in the past, rushing for over 1,800 yards and 18 TDs in his first two seasons in Washington. So, while Gibson will likely start the season as the lightning to Stevenson’s thunder, he’ll also be a competent lead-back option if Stevenson misses time, which has happened in two of his three NFL seasons.

A large looming question mark in Gibson’s 2024 value comes from New England’s fluid QB situation. Mac Jones is now in Jacksonville, Jacoby Brissett was signed in free agency, and Bailey Zappe looms in the background.

New England also holds the number three pick in this year’s draft, and many analysts have them taking whoever is left of Drake Maye and Jayden Daniels, assuming they don’t trade out. Neither QB relied heavily on their running backs in the pass game in college, so Gibson may be most valuable if the Patriots start Brissett, who was Gibson’s teammate in Washington last year.

Gibson’s value could increase if they line him up at receiver, where he lined up 22 times last year, or if New England continues to run a screen-heavy offense as they have over the past few years. Gibson was one of the most effective backs in the league on screens last year, averaging over eight yards per target and racking up 60 yards over expectations on screen throws.

RHAMONDRE STEVENSON UPDATED 2024 FANTASY OUTLOOK

In many situations, a running back coming off a 12-game season and entering the final year of his rookie deal with no extension in place wouldn’t be thrilled about their team adding another back. But for Rhamondre Stevenson, Gibson’s presence could go a long way in keeping him fresh and opening up running lanes.

Although Stevenson has caught an average of 40 passes per year in his three NFL seasons, he’s been more of a check-down option than a true receiving back. According to Warren Sharp, Stevenson’s 4.7 yards per target ranks 47th among 66 qualified backs over the last two seasons, compared to Gibson’s 6.3 yards per target (15th).

Stevenson’s primary real-life value is as a powerful 227-pound runner who flashes some sneaky speed once he gets to the second level. In 2022, Stevenson’s only full season, he broke a tackle on every 8.8 rush attempts, the fourth-best mark in the league, ahead of some of the league’s best and most bruising backs.

He also had Damien Harris to spell him when needed in 2022, and the result was a 1,000-yard season on almost five yards per carry. Gibson can fill that role much more effectively than Zeke did last year, which should benefit Stevenson tremendously.

The two backs may also spend significant time on the field together. New England lined up in 21 personnel (2 WR, 2 RB, 1 TE) on 23% of snaps last year, the second-highest rate in the league behind only San Francisco. They ran the ball on 71% of snaps in this personnel grouping with a 51% success rate, but Gibson’s ability as a runner, receiver, and pass blocker opens up a world of possibilities for their 2-RB sets. A coaching staff overhaul led by new OC Alex Van Pelt should continue this trend. Gibson’s presence and dual-threat abilities could leave defenses susceptible to Stevenson’s complementary skillset.

SUMMARY

Will Antonio Gibson’s landing spot with the Patriots propel him into no-doubt fantasy relevance? Of course not.

The Wolf has him as his RB40 on his 2024 Fantasy Big Board and Rankings, calling New England a “hideous landing spot,” but he still ranks Gibson about five spots higher than the experts’ consensus. Stevenson, meanwhile, sits in the middle of tier five at RB19.

Despite his limitations, Gibson is a guy who’ll likely be available into the 11th round and beyond. He’s always a Stevenson injury away from becoming the lead back on a team that will likely need a strong ground game to support a career backup or rookie quarterback. Provided New England continues to bolster its offensive line and doesn’t make any more backfield additions, Gibson is undoubtedly worth a late-round flier.

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