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2019 NFL Draft fantasy profiles: RB Josh Jacobs

Jacobs could be a draft bargain but which team can unleash his fantasy potential?

College Football Playoff National Championship Presented By AT&T - Alabama v Clemson Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

While we’re not likely to see a running back drafted near the top of the draft for the first time in 5 years, it doesn’t mean there isn’t premier talent and high fantasy value available. Alabama running back Josh Jacobs is my favourite skill position player in the 2019 draft and is a star in the making. Only his relatively limited college experience will stop him from being a high end draft pick.

Jacobs enters the draft having left Alabama after his junior season, which was his most productive for the Crimson Tide, even if he doesn’t leave as a National Champion. In 2018, Jacobs rushed a career high 120 times, amassing 640 yards and a team leading 11 touchdowns, as well as catching 20 passes for 247 yards a further 3 scores. He shared the backfield with fellow 2019 draftee Damien Harris and sophomore Najee Harris, with no player rushing more than 150 times, but it’s the tape that shows what a special player Jacobs is. If you’re looking for his standout game, look at last year’s Orange Bowl victory that took Alabama to the National Championship game. Jacobs had 158 total yards (98 rushing, 60 receiving) and a receiving touchdown in a 45-31 victory.

He has prototypical size at 5’10” and 225 lbs and looks like an NFL running back when he is on the field. Jacobs is a patient and decisive back, who shows good lateral agility to make defenders miss in the hole. He runs aggressively—almost angrily—and seems to seek out contact to punish those trying to tackle him and always seems to grind out an extra yard or two before going down. He also looks really comfortable as a pass catcher (with his massive 10 1/8” hands!) and though not asked to do it much, displays great hands and an ability to make plays after the catch. Watching the tape, I fell hard for Jacobs and he will be an instant starter in the NFL. Depending on where he ends up, I will be looking to draft him well ahead of his ADP, as I have some seriously high hopes for him.

The knocks on Jacobs will be his perceived lack of speed and his limited playing time. A slow 4.6 second 40 yard dash at his Pro Day led to talk about his ability to outrun NFL defenses, though he has since improved this time to 4.52 at a second Alabama Pro Day, which should allay some fears. You would think a lack of wear on a college running back’s tires would be a good thing, but probably hurts Jacobs a little despite the great tape as he couldn’t separate himself in Alabama’s talent rich pool of runners.

Jacobs’ College Stats

Year Games Rushes Rush Yards Avg TD Rec Rec Yards Avg TD
Year Games Rushes Rush Yards Avg TD Rec Rec Yards Avg TD
2016 14 85 567 6.7 4 14 156 11.1 0
2017 11 46 284 6.2 1 14 168 12 2
2018 15 120 640 5.3 11 20 247 12.4 3
Career 40 251 1491 5.9 16 48 571 11.9 5

Best Fantasy Fits

  • Houston Texans: The Lamar Miller experience has been underwhelming to say the least in Houston and was the scourge of many of my fantasy teams in 2018 (shakes fist angrily). Jacobs would easily slot in and take the starting job and give the Texans’ offense an extra dimension. Offensive line issues notwithstanding, Jacobs would also give Deshaun Watson a viable pass catcher out of the backfield and could easily be a 50-catch running back, more than Miller and Alfred Blue combined for in 2018.
  • Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles need help at running back, though current indications are that they won’t go running back in the first round. However Jacobs would be an instant starter alongside Jordan Howard, especially as a pass catcher, giving Philly a legitimate 1-2 punch at the position and take some pressure off Carson Wentz as he looks to regain his 2017 form.
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers: I love this fit, though looking at the draft order, it would take a dramatic fall for Jacobs or the Bucs trading up to land him. With Peyton Barber the top running back on the depth chart currently, Jacobs would immediately become the lead back in Bruce Arians’ offense and would compliment a deep receiving corps, as well as being a safety net for Jameis Winston in his contract year. We’ve seen what a multi-purpose back can do in a Bruce Arians offense, with David Johnson’s early success in Arizona, and Tampa needs to improve its bottom five run game from 2018 if they want to get off the bottom of the NFC South for the first time since 2016.


Which team gives Josh Jacobs the most fantasy value?

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