Josh Jacobs Start/Sit Week 12: Not a main course, but a decent side dish

After a series of underwhelming games, can fantasy managers trust Raiders RB Josh Jacobs against the Cowboys in Week 12 lineups?

Thanksgiving week gives us three football games on Thursday. Exciting? Yes. Fun? Yes. Challenging? Also yes. The tripleheader puts fantasy football managers in the unenviable position of making crucial lineup decisions without all the information necessary to make those conclusions. One of those decisions is in Las Vegas — should Raiders RB Josh Jacobs be in Week 12 fantasy lineups?

Josh Jacobs should be an every-week fantasy starter

Emphasis on should. Jacobs has always been a somewhat divisive player. Athletically, he’s quite unimpressive. At 5’10”, 220 pounds, you’d expect him to be faster than his 4.69 speed. While Jacobs has shown agility and elusiveness, he struggles to capitalize due to his lack of burst.

Fortunately, the volume is usually there to supersede his lack of efficiency. But more recently, it hasn’t been.

Kenyan Drake has been stealing work from Josh Jacobs

Following Jacobs’ return from a toe injury in Week 4, he was seeing massive volume. Jacobs saw at least 17 opportunities (carries + targets) in Weeks 4-6.

Since then, something appears to have changed, and Jacobs’ volume has taken a serious hit. From Weeks 7-11, Jacobs averaged just 13.5 opportunities per game. Meanwhile, Kenyan Drake is averaging 10.75 opportunities per contest over that span.

What should fantasy managers expect this week?

The good news is Jacobs has been used more in the passing game. We know how important receptions are to buoy fantasy production. Historically, Jacobs was not targeted much in Vegas’ offense. But over the past three games, that’s changed considerably. Jacobs has seen 16 targets during that span. In fact, Jacobs has seen 4 or more targets in five of his eight games played.

The problems for Jacobs have been inefficiency and a lack of touchdowns. He hasn’t scored in three straight games and has just two outings with more than 68 total yards. Without the yardage, he’s reliant on receptions to maintain his floor, rather than passing game work simply serving as a bonus. 

Should fantasy managers start Jacobs on Thanksgiving?

Given the sheer number of injuries at the running back position, I struggle to envision a scenario where fantasy managers can sit Jacobs.

The Cowboys have been stout against opposing running backs. They allow the fifth-fewest fantasy points to the position. Just 13.8% of all receiving yards allowed by the Cowboys go to running backs. With all that being said, Jacobs still comes with a strong opportunity floor. If the past few weeks are any indication, that includes a handful of targets.

Even if he struggles to break off runs, Jacobs should be able to provide high-end RB3 production in what could be a high-scoring game. That is probably good enough to justify starting him. Jacobs also has touchdown upside, which would immediately vault him into RB2 territory and make fantasy managers feel much better about their decision.

The reality is Jacobs has been solid enough, recording double-digit fantasy points in all but one game this season. He may be more floor than ceiling (which seems to be a theme among the Raiders’ fantasy-relevant players), but he’s worth keeping in lineups against the Cowboys.

Jason Katz is a Fantasy Analyst at Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter: @jasonkatz13 and find more of his work here. Don’t forget to listen to the PFN Fantasy Football podcast and check out our free fantasy newsletter.