Josh Jacobs had a mixed start to the fantasy football season in the first week of the season, with just as many questions arising as answers. There were encouraging signs, though, particularly his red-zone usage. After he missed last week with an injury, fantasy managers have two major questions heading into Week 3 — will Jacobs play, and if so, should you start him?
Update 09/26/21: Josh Jacobs is inactive for the Raiders Week 3 matchup with the Miami Dolphins.
Josh Jacobs had a mixed start to the 2021 fantasy football season
In Week 1, Jacobs showed exactly why the quality of opportunity can be more important than the volume. He helped the Las Vegas Raiders defeat the Baltimore Ravens, finishing with 10 carries for 34 yards and 1 catch for 6 receiving yards.
That would have been a disaster, especially in PPR leagues. However, his fantasy week was saved by 2 rushing TDs, including a 15-yard score in the fourth quarter, which was enough to justify his position in starting lineups.
The Raiders now face what appears to be a friendly matchup in Week 3. The Miami Dolphins have allowed 28.45 fantasy points per game to the RB position thus far. They’ve allowed over 100 rushing yards per game to opponents and 3 rushing touchdowns.
Even if you consider Kenyan Drake stealing most of the passing game work, Jacobs still has value as a rusher.
Jacobs does not appear to be a workhorse for the Raiders
Jacobs’ usage in the passing game has been a constant source of frustration for fantasy managers. His receiving ability was one of his strengths at Alabama. When the Raiders selected him as the 24th overall pick in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, head coach Jon Gruden expected to use him as a three-down back.
Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case. He fell behind DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard early in his career and found himself used primarily as a rusher. Last season was a step in the right direction, as he caught 33 of his 45 targets for 238 yards. However, early signs show that the role could belong to Drake in 2021.
The good news for those rostering Jacobs is that the Raiders should be competitive in every game despite a tough schedule. With running backs like Jacobs, who get most of their production on the ground, the game script can be their worst enemy. If the team finds themselves behind by multiple scores, they’ll likely turn to the air, with Derek Carr looking to his talented young receiving group.
Should you start Josh Jacobs in Week 3?
Jacobs was questionable in the run-up to the game in Week 1. He spent time on the sidelines, with the team keen to manage his workload to preserve his health.
Jacobs has been a constant fixture on the injury report since, missing practice throughout Week 2 and the game against the Steelers. He’s also missed a lot of practice time ahead of Week 3, leading the Raiders to announce him as doubtful following Friday’s practice.
If Jacobs is limited, Drake becomes an interesting fantasy option. He’s shown that he can handle a heavy workload, having done so last year to the tune of 264 touches in 15 games with the Arizona Cardinals. However, in Jacobs’ Week 2 absence, Drake had just 7 carries for 9 yards, although he did add 46 yards on 5 receptions.
If he plays, Jacobs would remain a risky start. His success or failure could hinge on whether or not he can find the end zone. His lack of involvement as a receiver limits his floor and makes him difficult to trust in PPR leagues. Nonetheless, his touchdown upside makes him a better option than others involved in a timeshare.
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