The transformation of the running back position has really turned fantasy football drafts on their heads this year. More and more shared-backfields are emerging and the days of the bell-cow back are starting to become a distant memory. As a result, you look at the latest fantasy football ADP and see that players at this position are still highly-coveted and if you feel the need to go running back-heavy in your drafts, you have to act fast because they are at a serious premium. Of course, there are some players who, no matter where they are in the fantasy football player rankings or how fast the position thins out, the public remains divided. Josh Jacobs of the Las Vegas Raiders is one such player which means he is the perfect subject for another Fantasy Football Player Debate.

Howard Bender and Britt Flinn are here to battle it out and feed you the pros and cons of drafting Jacobs this season. Settle in and good luck with your decision.



Why You Should Draft Josh Jacobs at His Current ADP

by Howard Bender

There is no love for Josh Jacobs in the fantasy football community and that’s just plain sad. No, he’s not the sexiest name out there and yes, his fantasy owners have, at times, been met with disappointment, but if there were ever a season to draft Jacobs, this would be it. The Las Vegas Raiders are about to turn a corner and they have built themselves up to compete for a division title in the wild, wild AFC West. They have a new head coach in Josh McDaniels, they have a new offensive outlook and Jacobs has every incentive in the world to leave it all out there on the field. A hungry team with an even hungrier running back? Yes, please.

Let’s start off with Jacobs, himself. The fourth-year back is just 24-years-old and the tread on these tires is nowhere near worn down. He’s got two 1,000-yard seasons under his belt and has averaged nine touchdowns per year. Last season’s drop in yardage wasn’t any sort of decline, as much as it was misuse and a disastrous season for a team, thanks to the idiocy of Jon Gruden and a coaching staff left in shambles after his dismissal. The bruising back is more than capable of handling a full-workload and while they drafted Zamir White, the release of Kenyan Drake shows that McDaniels has enough confidence in Jacobs to carry the load.

Well then why didn’t they pick up Jacobs’ fifth-year option? I haven’t taken a deep dive into the Raiders salary cap situation, so I won’t even speculate on the money involved, but if you’re a head coach taking over a new team and you want to evaluate the holdover personnel, don’t you want them incentivized? Yes, it could cost you more money down the road, but as a coach, I would prefer to know exactly what I am paying for and that means I want to see Jacobs running for his life, per se. We love watching Lamar Jackson play for a contract so why not Jacobs?

You can read the details of the offensive scheme McDaniels is running in my AFC West Coaching Breakdown, but the condensed version says it is based in the Erhardt-Perkins system and is predicated on the power-run. McDaniels also changed the blocking scheme to use more power/gap blocking which better suits his offensive line personnel. Jacobs will see a strong workload early as the run sets up the pass and as we’ve seen from past years with the Patriots, McDaniels likes to keep his running backs heavily involved. Will the role be shared? Probably, but what running back whose ADP shows him coming off the board in the late-fifth round, isn’t sharing the workload in some way? I’ll take Jacobs over AJ Dillon, Antonio Gibson and Clyde Edwards-Helaire any day and he doesn’t have to catch a single pass to make me want to grab him.

And as far as the pass-catching goes, let’s not forget that he will still be involved in some way. After all, he’s seen a steady increase in targets in each of his first three seasons and his 64 targets last year ranked ninth among running backs. So don’t tell me White is going to always be that guy on third down. Let’s see what his pass-blocking is all about because we already know Jacobs can pass-block.

And just one final, quick note – let’s talk touchdowns. I can reiterate the nine-touchdown average, but again, I like to look forward. Not only does the addition of Davante Adams legitimize this passing attack and force defenses to play the pass a whole lot more, but how many times have we watched Adams draw pass interference near the goal line or inside the end zone? Give me all the shares of Jacobs and all of those quick one-yard punch-ins into the end zone. Another 1,000-yard season is coming and the potential for double-digit touchdowns is a lot greater than you think.

Draft away!



Avoid Drafting Josh Jacobs This Year in Fantasy Football

by Britt Flinn

Historically, I can see why someone wouldn’t want to give up on Josh Jacobs. He’s finished as an RB1 two out of his three years in the league, and the Raiders just released Kenyan Drake. However, the situation in Las Vegas is much different this season than it has been in the past, and Jacobs is a huge trap at his ADP. You have a sub-par offensive line, new offensive weapons, and a new coach with a new scheme. This entire system is going to look different, and if you’re hoping for Jacobs to have similar production as he’s had in the past, you’re gonna have a bad time. 

The Raiders’ offensive line is what kids these days call “sus.” Alex Leatherwood is a huge liability in the run game and recorded one of the worst run-blocking grades in the league last season per, and unless he takes a huge step up this year, Jacobs is going to take a beating. He’s already starting the season banged up after playing multiple series in the Hall of Fame game, and it doesn’t get any easier from here, with the Raiders having one of the toughest strength of schedules in the league. 

Personnel changes also make it tough to buy into Josh Jacobs this season. Did anyone hear of a little trade that went down to bring in Davante Adams from the Green Bay Packers? I don’t know about you, but the Raiders did not bring in one of the best receivers in the league to not get him the ball. While this will primarily affect Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow, you can’t ignore the effect it will have on Josh Jacobs’ ceiling. Last year, he ranked fifth in receptions to the running back position with 54, and with added competition for targets, I don’t see Jacobs having any upside. 

You also have a new coach in Las Vegas with Josh McDaniels, a coach who is notorious for rotating backs in and out. He even had Jacobs start in a meaningless preseason game because he wanted everyone to get reps. Jacobs has never been a hyper-efficient back, instead relying on volume to accrue his fantasy points. It’s easy to gloss over when you consider his finishes over the past two seasons, but he actually ranked 40th in the league last year in fantasy points per opportunity at a measly 0.8. With rookie Zamir White in the mix, as well as Ameer Abdullah and Brandon Bolden at his disposal, McDaniels has a stable of backs to rotate in and out to exploit matchups. I highly doubt that Jacobs gets the carries he’s seen in years past, and you’re going to be disappointed if that’s what you’re expecting.

I know everyone wants a piece of any and all of these AFC West offenses, but take my word for it. Jacobs is not the piece you want.

You've now heard both sides of the argument. Which one are you on?

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