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Josh Jacobs: Value or Trap?

By Jared Smola 8:06am EDT 6/14/21

This is a free preview of a 2021 player profile. Draft Sharks Insiders will have access to over 300 player profiles in mid-June.

Josh Jacobs, RB, Raiders

What You Need to Know:

  • Jacobs finished 8th among RBs in PPR points and 7th in non-PPR last year.
  • He ranked 3rd in carries (273), 8th in rushing yards (1,065) and 4th in rushing TDs (12).
  • Jacobs tied for the league lead with 35 carries inside the 10-yard line last year and ranked 5th with 18 carries inside the 5.
  • He averaged just 3.9 yards per carry -- 39th among 47 RBs with 100+ attempts.
  • Jacobs didn’t get much help from his offensive line, which finished 26th in Pro Football Focus’ run-blocking grades and 18th in Football Outsiders’ adjusted line yards.
  • But Jacobs also ranked a middling 22nd among 47 qualifying RBs in PFF’s Elusive Rating.
  • His pass-catching production was mediocre. Jacobs ranked 24th at his position in targets (45), 24th in catches (33) and 25th in receiving yards (238).
  • Among 37 RBs with 30+ targets last year, Jacobs ranked 26th in yards per route run and 27th in Pro Football Focus’ receiving grades.
  • Jacobs missed 1 game last year with an ankle injury but also dealt with hip and knee injuries.
  • As a rookie back in 2019, Jacobs missed 3 games with a lingering shoulder injury.
  • He was productive when on the field in 2019, though, ranking 16th in PPR points per game and 12th in non-PPR.
  • Over the past 2 seasons, Jacobs ranks 13th among RBs in PPR points per game and 11th in non-PPR.
  • The Raiders signed RB Kenyan Drake to a 2-year, $11 million deal in free agency. It makes him the league’s 13th-highest-paid RB in terms of average annual salary.
    • Here’s what Drake said about his decision to sign with Vegas: "What Coach [Jon] Gruden said [in] how he was going to use me was just being on the field in a multitude of ways -- playing receiver, playing running back. Just having the ability to kind of use my versatility as a weapon in the open field is something that really spoke to me.”
    • Drake has caught 160 balls over the past 4 years. He’s ranked 44th, 25th, 24th and 33rd in Pro Football Focus’ receiving grade among RBs with 30+ targets in those seasons.
    • He averaged 4.5+ yards per carry in each of his first 4 seasons but mustered just 4.0 last year. Drake ranked 44th in Elusive Rating and 39th in PFF rushing grade among 47 RBs with 100+ carries last year -- both well behind Jacobs.
  • HC Jon Gruden on his backfield in a May interview: “We think Jacobs is not only a Pro Bowl back, we think he’s an MVP-caliber back. So we’d like to see him get more and more real estate. Kenyan Drake comes in here from Arizona … well, Doug Martin had 190 touches 3 years ago when [Marshawn] Lynch went down. DeAndre Washington had 144 touches when Jacobs went down 2 years ago. And this past year, Josh went down and Devontae Booker got 110 touches. So we’re gonna try to circulate the touches Kenyan Drake’s way.”
  • Vegas will have 3 new starters on the offensive line this year.
    • C Rodney Hudson and G Gabe Jackson departed in free agency and are expected to be replaced by C Andre James and G Richie Incognito. The move from Hudson to James projects as a big downgrade.
    • 1st-round rookie Alex Leatherwood is penciled in as the starting RT. He’s a plus athlete and started for 3 seasons at Alabama -- although he mostly played LT and RG for the Tide.

Draft Sharks Bottom Line:

Jacobs was a top-8 RB across fantasy scoring formats last year after ranking inside the top 16 in points per game as a rookie in 2019.

He faces fresh competition from RB Kenyan Drake this season -- although it sounds like the Raiders view Drake as more of a change-of-pace, pass-catching back than a real contender for the lead job.

Jacobs’ receiving role figures to remain frustrating this season. But expect him to see enough volume on the ground to produce as a RB2.

In This Article

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