josh-jacobs-1-1400.jpg

Josh Jacobs had a solid rookie campaign in 2019. Now he's looking to do more. He's someone you should draft as a No. 1 Fantasy running back in all leagues.

Last year, Jacobs was the only running back selected in the first round of the NFL Draft at No. 24 overall by the Raiders. Fantasy managers drafted him at No. 34 overall in PPR as the No. 19 running back off the board.

If you ask most football fans -- in Fantasy and reality -- Jacobs delivered with his production. He was the No. 15 running back in PPR on a per-game basis at 14.7 points per game (No. 10 in non-PPR at 13.2). And he was No. 7 in rushing in the NFL with 1,150 yards in 13 games.

The Raiders should call that a win. And so should anyone who drafted Jacobs in a Fantasy league.

Jacobs, however, has a different view of his performance. He felt like he could have done more. And that's what he's hoping to accomplish this year.

"I remember there were times after the game, and my coach was like, 'Be happy.' I'm like, 'No. I should have had this.' I left so many yards on the field," Jacobs said during an interview with CBS Sports HQ in January. "For me, it's just about executing everything (this year)."

He made a promise to Fantasy players who plan to draft him this year -- expect bigger and better production. Prior to training camp, Jacobs is a borderline first-round pick in all formats.

His ADP is No. 15 overall in PPR as the No. 11 running back off the board. That's fair value for him, and it's where I have him ranked. I'm excited about Jacobs, and he's a breakout candidate heading into 2020. I love the motivation that he has to succeed.

"You should draft me in 2020 because I'm going to have the best year yet," he said. "There's a lot of things that I feel like I left on the field. I'm coming after everything this year most definitely."

LV Las Vegas • #28
Age: 23 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Stats
RUYDS
1150
REC
20
REYDS
166
TD
7
FPTS/G
14.7

For starters, we hope Jacobs plays 16 games. He missed three games last year at a crucial time -- in the Fantasy playoffs -- in Weeks 14, 16 and 17 with a shoulder injury, as well as undergoing a procedure for a skin infection on his leg.

Jacobs might have played in those games if the Raiders were headed for the playoffs. When they got back into the playoff race in Week 15, Jacobs returned against Jacksonville and had 24 carries for 89 yards, as well as two catches for 20 yards. 

He doesn't consider himself injury prone, and he hopes to prove that this year.

"Honestly, every time that I got hurt (last) year I kind of did it to myself," Jacobs said. "It was never a time where I feel like I got hurt being tackled. It was always like instead of juking a guy or getting out of bounds, I did a little extra. That's just what comes with it. A lot of veteran running backs have been talking to me about that, just how to play smarter. But at the end of the day I feel like I'm the ultimate competitor. I'm going to play how I play, and how it turns out it's going to turn out."

The knock on Jacobs coming into the NFL was a lack of work at Alabama. In three seasons, he only had 251 carries and 299 total touches. His high for carries was 120 in 2018.

Some questioned his durability, as well as his ability to be a featured rusher, and he proved himself as a rookie with the Raiders. He had 242 carries, which was good for 13th in 2019, including six games with at least 21 carries. 

Over 16 games, he was on pace for 298 carries, which could have put him in the top four last year with Derrick Henry (303 carries), Ezekiel Elliott (301) and Nick Chubb (298). I'm hopeful he's around 300 carries this season.

Jacobs was one of the topics of conversation when the Fantasy Football Today podcast crew went deep with the running backs earlier this week. Follow all our podcasts and subscribe here,  

I'm also hopeful Jacobs continues to improve in the passing game. He only had 20 catches on 27 targets, and he wants to be more involved catching the ball in 2020. It's something he wants to prove to Jon Gruden and the coaching staff in training camp.

"I think it's more of just trusting it. I don't know if the coaches trusted that with me early (last year)," he said. "In camp, I probably literally dropped one pass, and it was the last day of camp. I remember it because my coach jinxed me. It's definitely something I plan on doing more next year, and even this offseason I'm working on it to take that next step."

The Raiders have a quality pass-catching back in Jalen Richard, and rookie Lynn Bowden Jr. can also be used in the passing game. But Jacobs said he can be a three-down back and hopes to be used that way this season.

He already feels comfortable in pass protection to help Derek Carr.

"The thing that people don't know is passing assignments (last) year, I was like 90 percent," Jacobs said. "That was only the beginning of the year where I missed a couple. And none of them led to sacks. Thank goodness. I was just trying to be an all-around player. That's my goal. The little things that I messed up on were correctable."

Stay healthy. Work more in the passing game. And improve on what he accomplished in 2019. All things that are attainable this season.

Now, the downside is Jacobs misses time due to injury again, which is something no one can predict. But he might again be limited in the passing game, which would be frustrating. I'm hoping for 35-plus catches, and our projections from SportsLine have him at 27.

But there's a chance Jacobs could lead the NFL in rushing. Over 16 games in 2019, he would have finished with 1,415 rushing yards, which would have been third behind Henry (1,540) and Chubb (1,494).

He also has the potential to score double digits in touchdowns after he had seven in 2019. And if you combine the production from Jacobs and DeAndre Washington, who filled in for Jacobs in the three games he missed last year, that would have been the No. 9 PPR running back based on their total points.

I don't expect Jacobs to be a top-five Fantasy running back this season, otherwise I would have him ranked higher. But he has top-10 potential, and he's worth drafting in the first 15 overall picks in all leagues.

"I learned a lot," Jacobs said of his rookie season. "But I also feel like I left a lot on the table. That's my main focus coming into (this) year is just trying to improve."

We're excited to see it happen. Jacobs is headed for a big season in 2020.