Make Up or Break Up: Josh Jacobs (Fantasy Football)
While I hope this letter finds you well, I write bearing less than pleasant revelations. I usually find it best to simply rip off the bandaid, as the saying goes, so I am writing to tell you that I am deeply troubled.
I won’t include flowery poetry or don the kid gloves in this letter. I will endeavor to lay out the facts as I see them and articulate my worry about your production with the Las Vegas Raiders in 2021 and what that means for our future.
Remember The Good Times
I will admit that this may seem a little dramatic, especially given your season-long stats from last year. You finished as the RB8 over 17 weeks with five games in the top-10. Three of those games were top-5 or better. You ranked fourth in rushing touchdowns, third in total touches, and eighth in rushing yards, just to name a few.
For the most part, you were able to provide the value necessary to make drafting you in the first round worth it. We had a few touch-and-go moments like Week 7 (4.6 points) and Week 12 (3.9 points). However, the more difficult week to watch you flop in fantasy was the Week 16 Championship Title game where you scored only 6.9 points and ranked as the RB38. Ouch. (I will get into your fiasco entering Week 14 later.)
Sharing Isn’t Always Caring
One of the first things that drew my attention to targeting you in drafts was your limited competition in the backfield. Sure, pass-catching RB Jalen Richard (did you know his name was pronounced REE-Shard? I didn’t see that coming) and veteran Devontae Booker was in the mix. Of course, Theo Riddick was technically on the team even though he only played four games but fullback Alec Ingold was a wild card last year, am I right?
Out-perform your competition is what you did in 2020. You rushed 273 times for 1,065 yards with 12 touchdowns. Richard and Booker didn’t come anywhere close to those numbers with 22/123/1 and 93/423/3 respectively. You even led the Raiders’ running backs in targets and receptions, which made you such a lethal option.
Of those players, only Booker has exited stage-left, vacating 93 rush attempts and 21 targets. That would normally be excellent news, but there is one big problem … his name is Kenyan Drake.
No offense to Booker or Richard, but a backup running back Drake is not. While he was the primary back for Arizona in 2020, Drake led the team in rushing with 239 with 955 yards, and ten touchdowns in 15 games. Like you, Drake has found himself on the top-10 leaderboard in 2020 including seventh in rush attempts and ninth in touches.
If there is one stat you both are… pardon my frankness… bad at, it’s yards per attempt. You, Joshua, ranked 43rd in the league last year (impressive considering there are 32 NFL teams) with 3.9 yards per rush attempt. But, guess who was one spot better than you? That’s right. Drake beat you by 0.1 yards per attempt with 4.0.
With only 110 combined rushing attempts and targets up for grabs, I am getting a sinking feeling about your future in my fantasy football life.
Other Fish in the Sea
I am not the only concerned fantasy manager out there. Your dip in average draft position (ADP) from the 1st Round to the early-middle of the 2nd Round reflects the uneasiness with feel in your certainty with Drake in a Raiders uniform.
Allow me to circle back to your 2020 finish. There is a reason that hosts Andy, Mike, and Jason have a Truth Series every year. Sometimes, the final numbers simply don’t tell the real story. For example, yes, you finished as the RB8 in half-PPR scoring over 17 weeks. You jumped a spot from RB9 simply because of Week 17 when you scored 20.9 points. That is also a week where a majority of leagues are already finished, so that doesn’t help much.
Let’s look instead at Weeks 1 through 16 where you fished ninth. Did you know this was just one spot ahead of Ezekiel Elliott who had by far his worst season? James Robinson outscored you by 11.1 points in one fewer game, and even rookie Jonathan Taylor beat your rank by three spots even after a slow start to the season.
Let’s be honest here. You’re ranking in fantasy was inflated by your 12 touchdowns. As you may know, Joshua, touchdowns are one of the least “sticky” indicators of performance from year to year. Add another RB1 to your team and what are we to do as fantasy managers just looking for a consistent player that we can rely on?
I do find myself slightly conflicted. On one hand, I would much rather look at TE George Kittle or WR Stefon Diggs in the 2nd Round. However, there is also another issue that we all may have to face for the 2021 season. Your lack of judgment while driving while impaired may lead to a several-game suspension. If your ADP ends up dropping even further because of this future missed time, will I forget this diatribe and draft you anyway?
It’s a difficult question to answer since we don’t know the full extent of these repercussions just yet. For now, though, I find myself cooling on our fantasy relationship for this season. I have decided that we should break up, but remain “friends” and see what the future holds. This time, however, I will make no allusions about the truth of our relationship and I will not put all of my faith in you.
I am sorry to bring you less than rosy news, but there it is.
P.S. I have not forgotten about your Week 14 tweet about not playing. Not cool, dude. Not. Cool.