The Josh Jacobs’ injury situation entering Week 13 is one of the more intriguing storylines for fantasy football managers this week. Coming off an incredible performance last week, what is the latest on Jacobs’ status, and does there appear to be any concern that the Las Vegas Raiders‘ RB could miss this week?
Update: Josh Jacobs is listed as questionable for Week 13.
Is Josh Jacobs’ Injury Situation a Concern for Fantasy Managers?
We first saw Jacobs pop up on the injury report with this calf issue last Friday. That caused some slight panic for fantasy managers, with the Raiders’ RB listed as questionable heading into the weekend, with limited updates over the weekend.
Entering the game against the Seattle Seahawks last week, we had no idea if Jacobs would be active or what role he would have in the offense.
The concerns turned out to be unfounded, as Jacobs carried the ball 33 times for 229 yards and two touchdowns. He also added 74 receiving yards with six receptions from seven targets. Jacobs became the first player since 2015 to register over 300 yards from scrimmage. He also shot to the top of the list in terms of rushing yards for the season.
It seemed as though the injury issue that had caused so much concern for fantasy managers over the weekend was ultimately not that big of a deal. However, on Tuesday morning, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported that Jacobs was not expected to practice much this week due to a calf strain. Pelissero added that Jacobs would “get around-the-clock treatment in hopes of playing Sunday against the Chargers.”
That last sentence really made it seem like it is up in the air as to whether Jacobs will be on the field this weekend. Therefore, it was good to see Jacobs open the week as a limited participant on the Raiders’ Week 13 injury report. Although, it’s worth noting that the Raiders only had a walkthrough Wednesday, so this is an estimated practice report.
During his media availability, McDaniels did not directly answer the question posed about the severity of Jacobs’ injury. He did state that he was “expecting us to have a shot to have a full group here.” The way he answered the question made it seem like the report from Pelissero was not entirely the case but did not go into detail.
Therefore, with conflicting information about this injury for Jacobs, he is a player we will need to watch closely this week. While he remains at practice, we should expect to see him active this week. However, it would also not be a surprise to see the Raiders designate Jacobs as a non-participant one day in order to manage his workload.
Jacobs’ Injury Is Particularly Intriguing in the Context of his Contract
The situation with Jacobs is fascinating, given where he stands with his contract. Las Vegas did not pick up Jacobs’ fifth-year option prior to the season, and it seemed like the Raiders’ backfield would be more of a committee.
That is why the handling of this injury is intriguing. The Raiders are 4-7, with their playoff lives hanging by a thread.
If the Raiders lose this week and their playoff hopes sink further into obscurity, you would usually question if Jacobs could be shut down with a nagging injury. But Jacobs is playing for his contract in 2023 and beyond, while the Raiders are fighting for their playoff lives this season.
With this in mind, it’s in the interest of both parties for the Raiders to manage Jacobs’ injury in practice so that he can be on the field in Week 13 against the Chargers.
How Should Fantasy Managers Approach the Raiders’ Backfield?
As it stands, if Jacobs is active on Sunday, fantasy managers will be starting him. He proved last week that he can still produce despite injury concerns. Furthermore, it’s likely to take a serious issue to cause Jacobs to miss time in a contract year. That plays into the hands of fantasy managers.
However, fantasy managers also need to be thinking ahead. Jacobs has already proven he can still be a valuable contributor. While the Raiders are still in playoff contention, Jacobs should continue to see heavy usage. But if they fall out of contention and Jacobs continues to deal with injuries, we could see him shut down early this year.
Doing so would benefit both the player and the team to some extent. Jacobs will not want to play through a minor injury and end up with a major injury situation that could impact his contract negotiations in the upcoming offseason. Equally, the team has a young RB in Zamir White that they may want to evaluate down the stretch to determine if they want to consider bringing Jacobs back next year.
There is an easy handcuff opportunity here for fantasy managers. White is available in more than 98% of the ESPN fantasy leagues. With Jacobs dealing with injuries, we could see White as the next man up. And based on what we’ve seen of the Raiders’ RB strategy this season, White would have a chance to touch the ball 20+ times per game if he were to become the lead back.
With trade deadlines now passed in most leagues, there’s no opportunity to consider selling high on Jacobs. However, handcuffing White with Jacobs could end up being a very good use of a bench spot if Jacobs does end up getting shut down entering the fantasy playoffs.
Additionally, in Underdog Fantasy weekly Best Ball leagues, pairing Jacobs with White as a late-round pick in drafts could be a clever move. While Jacobs deals with this calf strain, we could end up seeing White having to step in during games, and that role would have a nice ceiling in this Raiders offense.