The Oakland Raiders haven’t done fantasy football players any favors by choosing to sit rookie running back Josh Jacobs out for most of the preseason so far. Jacobs isn’t like other first-round pick running backs. He didn’t really put up big numbers while at Alabama and wasn’t a full-time starter. He was drafted based mostly on potential.
That being said, his potential is substantial. Alabama running backs haven’t succeeded much in the NFL in the past, but those running backs got used heavily during their college years. Jacobs is coming into the NFL with mostly fresh legs. His ability as both a runner and a receiver should be very intriguing for fantasy football players. There are always risks that come with drafting a rookie, but that shouldn’t stop you from picking up Jacobs early.
Josh Jacobs Fantasy Football Projections: Outlook & Preview
Last year’s top rookie running back, Saquon Barkley, was the number one running back and number two overall player in PPR leagues for 2018. Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffery were top ten backs as rookies in 2017. That’s not to mention Kareem Hunt and Alvin Kamara, who were both top-four fantasy running backs as rookies that year. The point is, rookie running backs can do serious damage and Jacobs is no exception.
Another thing that should get fantasy football players excited about Jacobs is that Jon Gruden loves to use his running backs as rushers and receivers. Before last year, Gruden’s top running backs averaged 1,210 total yards a season. Fantasy Pros have Jacobs ranked the 41st overall best player and the 19th ranked running back. However, not everybody agrees with that assessment.
“I believe Jacobs has a ton of potential in fantasy,” said Matthew Berry, ESPN’s fantasy football expert. “And I mean this year, RB1 potential. Believe it or not, he’s my RB10 today as of this taping in mid-June and he should be climbing on your draft board, as well.”
What’s also to important to keep in mind is that the players backing him up shouldn’t steal a lot of carries from him. Doug Martin is passed his prime and Jalen Richard is more of a receiving threat. This won’t be a running back by committee type thing. Jacobs will be handling the majority of the workload.
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When to Draft Josh Jacobs in 2019 Fantasy Football
With weapons like Tyrell Williams and Antonio Brown spreading the field, it’s going to be difficult for defenses to put a lot of focus on Jacobs. As previously mentioned, Fantasy Pros has Jacobs as the 41st best prospect, which would put him in the third round range depending on how big your league is. That rating seems very low, however. He’s ranked lower than Devonta Freeman and Leonard Fournette. I’d take him before both of those guys.
The Action Network projects Jacobs to get 216 carries, 926 rushing yards and 8.1 rushing touchdowns. They also have him accumulating 35 receptions, 295 receiving yards and 1.6 receiving touchdowns. Those numbers would be better than Freeman’s or Fournette’s last season.
Jacobs has the potential to be a top-10 running back in 2019. Yes, there is risk involved in drafting him too early. Most will probably wait until the third round to grab him, but I wouldn’t let him slip past the mid to late second.