Contract Year Player Outlook: Josh Jacobs (2022 Fantasy Football)
We recently look at the impact contract status has on fantasy football performance. Focusing specifically on players entering the final year of their rookie contracts, Sam Ryner put together key general takeaways and also players impacted entering the 2022 fantasy football season. Let’s take a deeper dive on one of those players, Josh Jacobs.
Other Contract Year Player Outlooks:
- Diontae Johnson
- Daniel Jones
- Dawson Knox
- Hunter Renfrow
- Irv Smith Jr.
- Mecole Hardman
- Tony Pollard
- Terry McLaurin
- Alexander Mattison
- DK Metcalf
- Deebo Samuel
- Devin Singletary
RB contract-season fantasy performance data (2017-21; PPR scoring)
- 46.7% produced a PPG at least one point above their career average.
- 42.6% produced a PPG at least one point below their career average.
- 11.1% produced a PPG within one point of their career average.
- 33.3% had the best season-end rank of their rookie contract.
- 31.1% had the worst season-end rank of their rookie contract.
Fun Fact: 70% of UDFA RBs who were identified as fantasy-relevant had their best season-end rank in their career during their contract season.
What this means: The RB position is similar to the QB position in that there isn’t much of a difference in the percentage of players who improved versus players who saw a dip in their PPG during the final year of their rookie contract. It’s also similar in that the top RBs are usually signed to contract extensions before playing in the final year of their rookie contract. Since 2017, the following players signed contract extensions before playing in the final season of their rookie contract: Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, Alvin Kamara, Joe Mixon, Nick Chubb, and Ezekiel Elliott. Of the RBs currently ranked as RB1s according to FantasyPros’ expert consensus rankings in PPR formats, only Austin Ekeler, Derrick Henry, and Aaron Jones have played in the final season of their rookie contracts. 75% of the players ranked as RB1s are either still playing on their rookie contract or received a contract extension before their rookie contract expired. The overall takeaway for the RB position is that contract seasons haven’t been strongly correlated to positive or negative player performance relative to their career average PPG.
Josh Jacobs 2022 Fantasy Football Outlook
The Raiders offense looks to reach new heights in 2022 with No. 1 wide receiver Davante Adams added to the fold. And that greatly benefits the team’s lead ball-carrier Josh Jacobs. A more efficient offense lends itself to more scoring opportunities, and Jacobs will reap the most rewards as the team’s primary red-zone back.
Last year’s RB13 smashed career highs in all receiving categories in 2021 despite playing alongside Kenyan Drake and Jalen Richard. Injuries to the back-ups boosted Jacobs’ role as a receiver slightly, but it was not the only cause.
There was a deliberate effort to feature Jacobs more as a receiver with him catching at least two passes in 12 of his 15 games played. And more importantly, the receiving capability that Jacobs displayed puts to rest the narrative that he is “game-script” dependent. Whether the Raiders are winning or losing in a loaded 2022 AFC West, JJ has proven he can be used in all facets.
Now the Raiders did elect to sign both Brandon Bolden and Ameer Abdullah this offseason to bolster their running back stable behind Jacobs. Bolden has been a special teams guy nearly his entire career, so I doubt he carves out any legitimate role on offense.
Abdullah has been used as a third-down back on the several teams he has been on at the NFL level, but I am not ready to declare him as a huge threat to Jacobs’ workload. Sure he might work in some, but not enough to hurt Jacobs’ bottom-line value. The team also drafted Zamir White in the fourth round, but I would not expect much from White in year one based on Josh McDaniels’ track record from New England of not featuring Day 3 rookie RBs.
The new head coach is more likely to run Jacobs into the ground on an expiring contract as he did with Dion Lewis, LeGarrette Blount and Shane Vereen during his Patriots tenure.
And besides, the red-zone role is the most significant for fantasy points, and that looks to be clearly in Jacobs’ grasp.
Two-down back Damien Harris was in the red-zone role for the Patriots last season and flourished because of it. He ranked fourth in carries (46) and third in rushing TDs (13) from inside the 20-yard line.
– Andrew Erickson
2022 Fantasy Football Staff Consensus Rankings
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