The first full slate of games on a Sunday in the 2021 NFL season kicks off with a whopping 14 games. However, for fans of the Baltimore Ravens and Las Vegas Raiders, we have to wait until Monday Night Football in order to get our first looks. And for fans of Raiders running back Josh Jacobs, we may have to wait even longer. Will Jacobs play on Monday night, and what is his fantasy football outlook for Week 1 if he does?
Update 9/13/21: Josh Jacobs has reportedly recovered from his illness and will be active for the Raiders Week 1 matchup with the Ravens.
Josh Jacobs was limited in practice this week
Though not necessarily coming in as a bit of a surprise, third-year RB Jacobs was listed as a limited participant on Thursday and Friday this week. He didn’t practice during the team’s first two sessions of this past week.
The true nature of the ailment was listed as a toe injury, as Jacobs told reporters this week he “feels fine” going into Monday. That being said, the Raiders did go out this week and sign veteran RB Peyton Barber. With Barber in the lineup, the Raiders enter Monday night’s contest with Jacobs, Barber, and Kenyan Drake as potential running backs.
Las Vegas will also likely dress fullback Alec Ingold. As a side note, Raiders guard Richie Incognito hasn’t practiced in the past three weeks, including both practices this past Thursday and Friday. The rushing attack — and pass protection for that matter — would take an obvious hit if Incognito doesn’t go on Monday.
Jacobs has been a workhorse in his career to date
So far, Jacobs has started 28 games and reached at least 1,000 rushing yards in both campaigns to start his career. He burst onto the scene as a rookie with 1,150 rushing yards and a respectable 4.8 yards per carry average.
Jacobs ranked third last season with 272 carries and tied for fourth in the NFL with 12 rushing scores. His average yards per carry took a hit, but he added more in the passing game than he did as a rookie.
For his career, Jacobs has amassed 515 carries, 53 receptions, and 2,619 total yards of offense. He’s rushed for 19 touchdowns while chipping in with another 114 first downs.
Jacobs has never missed a season opener for the Raiders.
Will Josh Jacobs play in Week 1?
This is the burning question on everyone’s minds. As of right now, Jacobs is slated to play. Raiders head coach Jon Gruden told Adam Hill of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, “We’re still hopeful that he’ll play” on Monday.
Though he missed practice earlier this week, his return to the practice field — even in a limited capacity as the week winds down — seems promising.
Though not positive, it does seem like Jacobs will be in the lineup if it were up to him. Jacobs told reporters on Friday that he felt fine.
“I feel good,” Jacobs said. “I did everything today so I feel good to go. This year, I feel like there are going to be a lot of practices where I rest my body. Getting into Year 3 and taking the most hits on the team, it’s just about being smart really.”
That goes back to his 568 total touches over the past two seasons. No one on the current Raiders roster has recorded more than 200 touches in the last two years combined.
Jacobs continued the optimism in his interview when speaking about the first regular-season game with fans at Allegiant Stadium.
“I know it’s going to be electric,” Jacobs said with a huge smile.
That certainly seems like a guy who is excited to play on Monday Night.
Josh Jacobs fantasy outlooks and analysis for Week 1
There were some concerns for Jacobs’ availability in Week 1 after he was limited in practice with a toe injury. However, on Friday [September 10], Jacobs told reporters the he “did everything today. I feel good to go.” Well, I guess that answers that question.
Jacobs was one of the few workhorse backs in the NFL as he had little competition for touches. He averaged 257.5 carries per season and 18.4 carries per game, topping 1,000 rushing yards in each of his first two seasons while scoring 19 total touchdowns. But then the Raiders went out and signed Kenyan Drake, who muddies the waters for the backfield.
We should assume that Drake will see a few carries but takes the majority of passing work which honestly doesn’t mean much for Jacobs as he has never been involved in the passing game, averaging just 1.9 receptions per game. The matchup is what concerns me the most.
The Raiders dropped a semi-full of TNT onto their offensive line and blew it up, taking a strength and turning it likely into a weakness. The Ravens ranked No. 12 versus RBs last season (21.5 ppg) and could be just as dangerous this year. Between the split in carries, reduction in passing work, and a likely negative game script, Jacobs is an RB3 for me in Week 1.