Josh Jacobs - Dynasty Outlook

So the Raiders declined Jacobs’ 5th year option, which means he’ll be a free agent after this season.

I don’t know what’s the deal with Jacobs and the Raiders. He performs okay, yet the Raiders never seemed to believe in him. He’s an okay pass catcher, yet they don’t utilize him as that. They pay a lot of money to backups, but don’t really utilize them, either.

Normally, that would make me speculate about character concerns. But whenever I hear interviews with him, he strikes me as humble, soft-spoken and pretty clear-minded. Maybe that’s the problem - maybe the Raiders prefer big-mouth go-getter type of guys, and that’s definitely not him. That would tell a lot more about the franchise leadership than about Jacobs himself, though.

So what’s Jacobs’ outlook for 2022 and beyond?

The Raiders are set for one helluva season, which could easily translate into Jacobs’ best season yet. Kenyan Drake didn’t prove to be much of a problem for him last year, except for the fact that he was used on most passing downs. But we already knew that the Raiders had no intention to use Jacobs as a pass catcher, so that did not come by surprise.

They drafted Zamir White in the 4th round, which makes him an intriguing prospect for 2023. If he will cut deeply into Jacobs’ 2022 production remains to be seen. He will certainly get some opportunities as a relief runner, and if he makes the best of it, it could spell immediate problems for Jacobs. But my early expectation is that Jacobs should be able to keep him in check.

For Jacobs owners who want to handcuff him, White is the right choice though, whereas Drake isn’t. Drake played (and will likely continue to play) a different role and did not see his volume increase in games where Jacobs got injured. So he’s not the right handcuff.

The Raiders also added Brandon Bolden, Ameer Abdullah and fullback Jakob Johnson :de: in free agency, but none of them should be a serious threat for Jacobs.

The outlook for 2023 and beyond looks less promising for Jacobs. It’s hard to imagine that he will find a team that will use him as a bellcow. The best hope for dynasty owners is that he may end up in a solid RBBC where he will see more work through the air.

But while I always saw Jacobs as a rock solid back, it’s not like he set the world on fire, either. He will find a new team, provided he can stay healthy, but if he can remain a fantasy RB2 beyond this season remains to be seen.

If both the Raiders and Jacobs play as strong as expected this year, it could be a good time to trade Jacobs away during the season. If he checks in the RB10-15 range mid-season, an RB-needy contender may be ready to spend a good 2023 1st rounder on him, which could be the most value you will ever get for Jacobs.

At the same time, I’d not shy away from reaching out to Jacobs owners, either. Many of them spent the 1.01 on him in 2019, and never got that value returned. If a frustrated owner is ready to sell him for a 2nd round pick, I’d probably take my chances, especially since this draft class doesn’t provide great depth.

In a nutshell:

  • 2022 outlook: strong (lower RB1 / upper RB2 range)
  • 2023 outlook: uncertain, due to his contract situation
  • dynasty recommendation: buy low / hold (and sell high later)

As a Raider fan, I have to be honest: Sell Jacobs now,

Zamir White is the future. Even if he doesn’t get the bellcow this year, expect it next year.

The question is - is White a better RB than Jacobs is? I have my doubts.

Beyond this season, there is little doubt the Raiders will go with White. It can happen this year already, but I’m not sure if White is NFL ready. He’s a 2nd (if not 3rd) tier prospect from this not exceptionally strong RB class.

He was the 8th RB to go off the board, with several RB-needy teams picking before the Raiders, even in the 4th round.

Previous #8 RBs were:
2021: Chuba Hubbard
2020: Ke’Shawn Vaughn
2019: Bryce Love
2018: Royce Freeman

Not exactly a list of names that would get me excited.

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Hubbard wasn’t bad. No, he wasn’t CMC, but neither was CMC.

Honestly, this RB draft class has more prospects than sure things. After you get past Breece Hall and Kenny Walker, this draft class is a lot of question marks, White is one of the better prospects, and he lands in a situation where he will got a shot. For prospecting, getting the shot is more important than anything else.

As for Jacobs, he is on his last legs. Even an 8th pick White might be better than Jacobs. Raiders fans last year would admit that Peyton Barber was better.

That seems to be common consensus in Las Vegas. It’s just… I don’t see it.

Season GP Attempts Att/G Rush Yards YPC TD TD/G TD/A
2019 13 242 18,6 1150 4,8 7 0,54 2,9%
2020 15 273 18,2 1065 3,9 12 0,80 4,4%
2021 15 217 14,5 872 4,0 9 0,60 4,1%

GP = Games Played

His 2020 and 2021 Yards per Carry (YPC) numbers don’t look great, indeed. That can hint towards poor RB play or towards poor run blocking. I don’t follow the Raiders close enough to be able to tell which it is here. Only thing I can say - no other Raiders RB had better numbers last year. Peyton Barber very much included.

Josh Jacobs: 4.0 YPC (217 carries)
Kenyan Drake: 4.0 (63)
Peyton Barber: 3.9 (55)

Looking at Jacobs’ 2021 stats, the games with his lowest YPC numbers were games where he saw less than 10 carries. He probably was used mostly in short-yardage situations, which of course hurts the YPC average. If your job is to get 2 yards for a first down, and you get 2 yards, you got the job done, but of course it hurts your YPC, which is why it can be a misleading statistic.

Jacobs had no major injury concerns. He does miss 2-3 games per season, so I certainly don’t blame the Raiders for making sure they have enough depth on RB.

I can also only guess that they don’t use him on passing downs as a measure to keep him healthy. He did see a career-high 62 targets in 2021, though, and rewarded the team with a 84% catch rate. Jacobs is a good pass catcher.

My best guess (and I may be completely wrong here) is that the Raiders need to work on their run blocking. If they don’t, White won’t be able to perform any better than Jacobs did. If they do, Jacobs could be in for a career year, especially if they keep him involved in the passing game.

I will grant you there could be an issue with the run blocking, but what I saw from Jacobs looked very tentative, like end-of-career Eddie George, waiting for Ray Lewis on every play. Even Peyton Barber looked more assertive, even if his numbers didn’t reflect it.

The Zamir White draft pick basically says the new regime isn’t impressed with Jacobs (as well they shouldn’t be), not to mention the Raiders refusal to take up Jacobs 5th year option. Don’t be surprised if White is starting this year or next.

The 5th year option refusal is indeed a clear sign where the Raiders are headed. But as long as Jacobs stays healthy and plays a halfway decent season, he should be able to find a good job with another team in 2023.

There is a realistic chance that Jacobs can retain fantasy RB2 appeal in 2022 and beyond. His dynasty value certainly tanked a little, but not as much as the public opinion on him (that has never been exceptionally high in recent years).

On the current trade value chart, Jacobs is the RB23. That’s realistic, considering the uncertainty around his future. But in dynasty leagues, you may be able to get him for a 2nd round pick, which is a price I’d pay for him without hesitation.

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