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In the same week the Raiders say goodbye to Marshawn Lynch, they say hello to the best running back in the 2019 draft. Alabama's Josh Jacobs is heading to the bay with the 24th overall pick.
And when the main competition for playing time is Isaiah Crowell and Jalen Richard, you can feel good about his chances to be a contributor right away. We know Jamey Eisenberg does:
“I think this kid’s got top 15 upside.”@JameyEisenberg loves Josh Jacobs to the Raiders for fantasy football implications, and believes Jacobs could trend toward No. 1 RB territory. pic.twitter.com/4z5zmEAAK6— Fantasy Football Today (@FFToday) April 26, 2019
Jacobs is a physical, three-down back with good speed, quickness and acceleration. His lateral agility sets him apart, and he consistently tends to fall forward to add a few extra yards on his carries. He has very good, natural hands to contribute in the passing game, which is huge for Jon Gruden's offense. And while he's not a polished pass protector, he proved on tape he's willing to try.
He's also inexperienced — he has 251 career carries and 48 career catches with only three games with 15-plus carries. Some may consider that a positive, as he also doesn't have any major injuries on his record.
I would expect Gruden to keep Jacobs' touches fairly limited early on — his track record suggests splitting carries between multiple backs until he has one he can trust on a play-to-play basis. That shouldn't take too long with Jacobs. Gruden's had a running back catch at least 40 passes in nine of his 12 seasons and has helped a rusher to over 1,000 total yards 10 times in those, with seven seven-score seasons.
I wouldn't get so excited about Jacobs that his draft stock rises into Round 2 or even Round 3 range. Round 4 will be a great time to get a lead back with big potential. I expect him to be taken with a top-50 pick, maybe top-55 in PPR.
If you're drafting with the long term in mind, Jacobs should settle in around 40th or 45th overall in dynasty start-ups and long-term keeper formats. I do think Jacobs is in the conversation as the top pick in rookie-only drafts, too.