Written By Christian Skutevik
Ground Game Guru
In just 13 games Josh Jacobs led all rookie running backs with 242 attempts, 1,150 rushing yards, and 7 rushing touchdowns. He averaged a solid 4.8 yards per carry which is likely attributable to his 7th best 3.48 average yards after contact. His 69 avoided tackles (.29 avoided tackles per carry) which lead all running backs last season, giving him an elusive rating of 103.6 which was also best in the NFL. It doesn't take a genius to realize that when you're good at avoiding tackles and when your good at running through them, you're bound to have long explosive runs. That's why it comes as no surprise to see that 32% of his yards came on runs of 15 yards or more, giving him the 6th highest breakaway percentage. Now, that was a lot of metrics so if your feeling overwhelmed just know that all of those statistics tell us one thing. Josh Jacobs is one of the best ground and pound backs in the NFL.
Tough as Nails
I'll admit that heading into the season, I was a little nervous about Jacobs. I, along with everyone else, knew how productive he could be. When the Raiders opted to sit him in their first preseason game I couldn't help but wonder if he was yet another injury-prone back like Dalvin Cook or Ryan Matthews. Sure enough, he would suffer shoulder Clavicle Fracture in a Week 7 matchup against the Packers. Jacobs would remain limited in practice for the rest of the season, even missing 3 games. However, I never thought I would say this but his injury is part of what impressed me most. Despite missing time and being banged up for the majority of the season Jacobs stilled finished 14th in standard league scoring.
Head Coach Jon Gruden confirmed this when he said "He's fighting through a shoulder himself. You know, a lot of the things that these guys are doing behind the scenes go unrecognized. He hurt his shoulder in the Green Bay game. So, we've tried to be smart with him. But what a great competitor he is. He's going to be one of the best complete backs in all of football, I believe."
Yes, injury is still a concern for the young back, and yet, it doesn't really matter. No matter how nervous you may be about his health, you should never pass him up because of that. Jacobs is easily worth a first-round pick in standard leagues and definitely worth an early second-round pick in PPR leagues. The same goes for backs like Dalvin Cook, they are just too good to pass up.
Had he stayed healthy and played the entire 16 games of the season he would have finished the year with 298 carries, 1,415 yards, and 9 touchdowns. This would have equaled out to 213 fantasy points, putting him on pace to finish 9th in standard league scoring ahead of Alvin Kamara, Chris Carson, Leonard Fournette, and more. Ultimately, Jacobs is easily a top 12 RB in standard leagues, and while he isn't as effective in PPR scoring he is still a solid RB2 because of his volume and knack for finding the end-zone.