Saturday, 23 March 2019 00:00

What This Rookie Can Do For You: Josh Jacobs

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Editor's note: This series is meant to explain what rookie running backs can do for your fantasy team. A good running back also requires a good head coach, offensive line and quarterback to be successful in NFL. But these articles will aim to give you an idea of what could happen if this player lands in an ideal fantasy situation.

Other articles on 2019 rookies: Rodney Anderson


This article dissects Alabama RB Josh Jacobs

The consensus among experts is Jacobs is one of the top running back prospects in 2019.

Jacobs best strengths that will translate to great fantasy football stats include his angry running style and his unique catching ability for his size.

First, his angry running style. Jacobs is the ideal running back size at 5'10, 220 lbs. But more importantly, his low center of gravity allows for him to blast through defenders while still keeping his feet under him. This allows him to generate plenty of yards after contact and he showcased this against tough college defenses last season.

Of his 121 carries in 2019, he forced 33 missed tackles. That's a missed tackle forced once every 3.7 rushing attempts. This is the kind of production you want from an every-down back at the NFL level.

He'll make an ideal goal line option on NFL teams. If he ends up getting drafted by a good offensive team that gets in the red zone a lot, expect him to be the guy they go to for the score.

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Burst over straight line speed

Though he could be an ideal goal line back, Jacobs is much more than that. His straight-line speed won't blow you away and his since 4.6 40-yard dash at his Pro Day illustrates this. But he has the ability to make smooth lateral jukes in space to elude defenders.

You'll come to find out that 40-yard dash times aren't always the best indicator of running back talent at the NFL level.

Kareem Hunt, for example, also ran a 4.6 40 which led to many teams passing on him in the first and second rounds. Hunt ended up getting drafted by the Chiefs and finished with an incredible 1,327 rush yard to go along with 455 receiving yards and 11 total touchdowns.

Hunt found himself in an ideal system under Andy Reid in Kansas City. Reid loves using running backs as receivers out of the backfield as evidenced by Jamaal Charles and Brian Westbrook's excellent receiving stats. Plus, the Chiefs had an accurate quarterback in Alex Smith that could deliver the ball on point so Hunt could immediately turn up field and create more yards.

Not saying Jacobs is Hunt. Just showing you that 40-yard dash times aren't all they're cracked up to be.

His role as a receiver

We mentioned how running backs can thrive in the passing game as long as they have the tools and Jacobs is one of those guys. He can track the ball like a receiver and make catches over his shoulder. Very impressive for a guy who weighs 220 lbs.

This makes him a potential force at the NFL level because teams can use him to exploit matchups against slower linebackers and safeties. If you pair him with an accurate quarterback and a creative offensive coordinator he could be a points per reception dream. 

If you look at some of the top running backs in the NFL today, nearly all of them are great pass catchers. According to Pro Football Focus, top fantasy backs Alvin Kamara, Saquon Barkley, and Christian McCaffrey all had at least 70 catches last season.

These backs are fantastic route runners who can make difficult catches look routine. Jacobs definitely showed flashes of a similar skill set at Alabama. While he only saw 56 targets with the Crimson Tide last season, he made the most out of them.

Jacobs hauled in 48 of those 56 targets, only dropping three. He averaged 12.4 yards per catch and forced 21 missed tackles on those catches. Some of them were on difficult routes as well, like this one against Auburn.

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Notice the subtle body adjustment Jacobs makes. He's running down the seam and shifts his body to where the ball is going. This isn't easy for even great athletes to do and Jacobs does it to perfection. He makes the catch over his shoulder and uses a few jukes in the open field to score the touchdown here. These types of routes are run by running backs in the NFL much more now a days.

Where he's potentially weak

There's the knock on Jacobs about his 4.6 40 time. This might make him less than a home run threat when he gets in the open field, meaning he won't be scoring 95-yard touchdowns. But like we said before, running backs who have burst are more valuable than home run hitters over the long run. Jacobs has that burst.

Another potential weakness is his ability as a true every-down back. Jacobs didn't get a ton of carries in Alabama, carrying the ball just 251 times in 3 seasons. Still, that could be a potential strength since his body doesn't have a ton of wear and tear. However, it does raise the question if he can handle a large portion of the carries since we haven't seen that from him yet.

Overall verdict

Jacobs will be ideal on a team that needs a running back. He'll be even more ideal if he has a creative offensive system that uses running backs in the pass game a lot. He'll be even more ideal than that if he goes to a team that needs his services, has a creative offensive system and an accurate quarterback.

Last modified on Saturday, 23 March 2019 20:29
George Banko

George Banko started talking about fantasy football shortly after graduating college. He started as an intern at FFChamps.com before working as a staff writer for Fantasy Knuckleheads. He currently contributes to the Fantasy Hot Read podcast, which is available on itunes. He also educated himself on player evaluation and is a graduate of The Scouting Academy in 2015, which is an online course run by former NFL Scout Dan Hatman. He started Fantasy Football Helpers as a blog in 2011 and converted it to a full-scale website in 2014. Read more.

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