Josh Jacobs, the NFL’s reigning rushing leader, is reportedly set to end his holdout three weeks before his team’s regular-season opener. With Jacobs expected back at Raiders’ training camp ahead of the final week of the preseason, fantasy football owners contemplating an early-round draft pick on last season’s overall RB1 in standard formats can finally exhale.
However, just because Jacobs is reportedly on his way back to Raiders’ camp doesn’t mean he’s a shoo-in to produce at the level his early-round ADP indicates. Should you draft Jacobs in fantasy this season?
Below, we’ll break down Jacobs’ 2023 fantasy outlook and decide whether he’s a smart draft pick.
DOMINATE YOUR DRAFT: Ultimate 2023 Fantasy Cheat Sheet
Josh Jacobs’ 2023 fantasy ranking and ADP
Entering the season, SN Fantasy has Jacobs ranked as the No. 6 RB in PPR formats and the No. 8 RB in standard ones. After recording a league-high 393 touches and totaling over 2,000 total yards (1,653 rushing, 400 receiving), Jacobs ended 2022 as a top-three running back in both standard and PPR formats. He’s one of the few three-down RBs in today’s NFL, and although it’s unlikely he sees close to 400 touches as he did last season, he’s in line for another high-usage season with little competition amid the Raiders’ RB room.
While SN Fantasy’s 2023 RB rankings project Jacobs as more of a low-end RB1 than a high-end one, he’s one of the game’s strongest and most-elusive backs, totaling the second-most evaded tackles (123) while racking up a league-best 828 yards after contact.
FantasyPros has Jacob’s ADP at No. 21 in PPR formats and No. 23 in standard ones. His ADP translates to the overall RB9 in PPR formats and the RB8 in standard ones.
In PPR formats, other RBs coming off the board around the same time as Jacobs include Tony Pollard (RB7), Jonathan Taylor (RB8), Najee Harris (RB10), and Rhamondre Stevenson (RB11). In standard formats, those RBs include Derrick Henry (RB6), Pollard (RB7), Taylor (RB9), and Harris (RB10).
Josh Jacobs’ fantasy outlook 2023
With the Raiders’ regular-season opener just 20 days away and Jacobs yet to make his return, there’s reason to believe he gets put on a snap count to start the season. While fellow RB Zamir White isn’t a real threat to cut into Jacobs’ workload, he could see increased run within the first couple of weeks if the Raiders decide to ease Jacobs back into action.
He might not live up to his top-10 RB ADP within the first couple of weeks, but once Las Vegas believes he’s ready for a full workload, it’s likely that last season’s rushing leader will post RB1 fantasy numbers. However, it’s also worth noting that Jacobs’ 393 touches in 2022 were thanks, in part, to the fourth-year back playing all 17 games while shouldering a bigger workload after fellow skill position threats Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow missed several games with injury.
According to Draft Sharks’ injury predictor, Jacobs is projected to miss 2.4 games this season and is labeled as a “high risk” for injury. He led all RBs in opportunity share (the percentage of a team’s total carries and targets that a specific player receives) at 83.7 percent, and that warrants some concern regarding his injury risk in 2023. While there are always increased injury risks for highly utilized players like Jacobs, his early-round ADP is justifiable.
With Jimmy Garoppolo set to be the team’s new QB1, we could see Jacobs become more of a factor in the receiving game, boosting his appeal in PPR formats. Last season, Garoppolo averaged the fifth-lowest averaged completed air yards per Next Gen Stats, as his willingness to take the easy completions and rely on his check downs could result in Jacobs’ best receiving season to date.
Don’t expect another 340-carry season from the Raiders’ RB1, but Jacobs makes for a relatively safe late-first-round/early-second-round draft pick this fantasy season. It might take a few weeks for Jacobs to get back to full speed, but another top-five finish in both PPR and standard formats is well within the realm of possibility for one of the league’s toughest runners.