What to Do with Josh Jacobs in 2021? | Fantasy Football

Life comes at you fast! Just last offseason, Josh Jacobs had a lot of buzz coming off of his rookie season. He finished his first year with 1,316 total yards and seven touchdowns. He was being drafted in the early to mid-2nd round in 2020. Going into the 2021 season, the rose-colored glasses are off of Jacobs and his ADP has fallen. You can now land him in the 4th round of your fantasy drafts. Should you fade Josh Jacobs this season, or is he now a value pick?

2019 Season

In his rookie year, Josh Jacobs finished as the RB21 in PPR scoring and the RB16 in points per game in 2019. He played in 13 games and ran for 1,150 yards in 242 carries (4.8 ypc) and seven touchdowns. He saw limited receiving work with 20 receptions from 28 targets for 166 yards. Many people were expecting Jacobs to take a substantial leap in his second season. He was now the lead running back for the Raiders and more work should follow.

2020 Season Review

There was optimism for Josh Jacobs going into the 2020 season. He was typically being drafted as a top-10 RB in the 2nd round. Jacobs came out of the gates on fire in Week 1. He scored 35.9 points with 139 total yards and 3 TDs against Carolina and was the RB1 for the week. However, Jacobs had an up-and-down season the rest of the way. He and finished as the RB8 overall and the RB15 in PPG. Here are some stats to highlight his season:

  • #3 RB in rushing attempts (273)
  • #8 RB in rushing yards (1,065)
  • #49 RB in yards per carry (3.9)
  • #4 RB in total touchdowns (12)
  • #24 RB in targets (45)
  • #24 RB in receptions (33)
  • #25 RB in receiving yards (238)
  • Finished as an RB1 in 33% of weeks, an RB2 in 27%, and an RB3 or worse 40%

Josh Jacobs maximized his value with his high rushing attempts and high amount of touchdowns. However, he capped his upside with such little work in the passing game. Therefore, when he did not score a touchdown, he did not score well in PPR. His average fantasy points per game were 9.35 fantasy points. That ranked as the RB39 in PPG for 2020.

In PPR, a running back that doesn’t have at least 50 receptions lacks a floor without touchdowns. Jacobs had an impressive rushing season, but he lacked consistency. He just did not have enough receptions to raise his scoring floor. He was also not an efficient running back with a 3.9 YPC. In his defense, PFF ranked the Raiders offensive line 26th for run blocking. In 2019, Jacobs ranked 11th in YPC with 4.8, and his offensive line was ranked 18th in run blocking. Now, yards per carry can be a misleading stat. Jacobs might have run better if the Raiders offensive line had played better too. If Jacobs averaged his actual 2019 YPC in 2020, at 4.35 YPC he would have run for 1,188 yards. That would have given him the third-highest rushing yardage total.

2021 Expectations

It may be hard to believe, but last season’s RB8 is being drafted as the RB19. That puts him at the beginning of the 4th round in 12-team redraft leagues. That is Josh Jacobs right now. In 12-team dynasty leagues, he is being drafted as the RB20 at pick 43 (4.07). Jacobs is just 23 years old and a starting running back. It makes no sense.

Yes, Kenyan Drake signed with the Raiders during free agency. The concern is that he will split carries with Jacobs. Drake has averaged just 9 rushes per game and 2.2 receptions per game for his career. The Raiders have not shared how they plan to utilize Kenyan Drake yet, but that assumption is driving down Jacobs’ ADP. While a split is within the realm of possibilities, Jacobs could also still get 15 carries a game. Plus, he’s likely to be the primary goal-line running back for Las Vegas.

The other narrative is that the Raiders’ offensive line will be worse this season. While they jettisoned most of their starters in the offseason, they were not a good unit last year. Getting different players on the offensive line could be an improvement. Jacobs was still able to score 12 TDs behind that poor offensive line.

Josh Jacobs is being drafted at his floor value as a back-end RB2. He is capable of finishing as an RB1, proven by his 2020 finish. You should take advantage of the negative perception in redraft leagues and draft Jacobs as your fantasy team’s RB2 or RB3. At that draft cost, there seems to be a minimal risk with significant upside. In dynasty leagues, you should be thrilled to draft Josh Jacobs around the RB20 off the draft board. He is young and Drake could be released in 2022. Cutting Drake would only cost the Raiders $3 million. Even if they don’t cut Drake, both he and Jacobs will be free agents in 2023. Jacobs is a steal in the top half of drafts from so many offseason narratives. Buy the value.