Could Jahmyr Gibbs finish as the RB1 in fantasy football for 2024?

Chris Johnson said the quiet part out loud, and pointed to how Lions running back Jahmyr Gibbs could finish as the RB1 in fantasy next season.
Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions' plan for running back Jahmyr Gibbs as a rookie clearly worked, and it did not prevent him from being a top-10 running back in fantasy football. But he was just 28th in the league in carries (182), with the lower workload to start and two missed games. If he played those two games, based on his per game number for the 15 he did play, he would have had 206 carries (22nd in the league)

From Week 7-17 last season, after his two-game absence and as he took more of the work from David Montgomery, Gibbs was the RB3 in 0.5 and full-point PPR with nearly 1,000 yards from scrimmage (982) and 10 total touchdowns (nine rushing).

Former NFL running back Chris Johnson praised Gibbs back in November on Amon-Ra St. Brown's podcast. Appearing on the "Behind The Mask" podcast recently, Johnson took another opportunity to praise Gibbs when asked about a running back in today's game who reminds him of himself.

"He cold,” said Johnson of Gibbs. “That boy cold. Before he even got drafted, I had said that he is the best running back in that draft class. He’s gonna go crazy, and man, I know one thing—if Detroit was smart, he would be their every down back.”

Chris Johnson points path to Jahmyr Gibbs being the RB1 in fantasy for 2024

To be clear, Montgomery is not going anywhere and the Lions' offense will always tilt toward the run on a play percentage basis. But Gibbs also had three of his five highest snap shares last season in games Montgomery missed, and overall in the 15 games he played Gibbs played 57 percent of the Lions offensive snaps.

Montgomery had 50 red zone carries last season (tied for fourth-most in the league), while Gibbs had 37 (tied for 10th-most). Five of Gibbs' 10 rushing scores were from inside of five yards out, so the goal line role was/is not solely Montgomery's.

A bit of a statistical oddity last year with Gibbs points to untapped upside in 2024. In the six games where he had 13 or more carries, he had three or fewer targets three times, more than 20 receiving yards twice, more than three catches twice and a high of 37 receiving yards. Over the last six games of the season, he had three or fewer targets four times.

So if Gibbs gets more snaps next season, gets more touches overall and his passing game work doesn't basically evaporate when he gets more carries, so he's essentially an every down back like Johnson said, even better production than he had as a rookie should follow.

However much as a dark horse, Gibbs has a place somewhere on a list of candidates to unseat Christian McCaffrey as the RB1 in fantasy next season.

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