In what was one of the biggest surprises of the day, the Packers went out and aggressively made the addition of Josh Jacobs to open free agency.

With AJ Dillon a free agent in his own right and Aaron Jones subsequently released, there is a complete upheaval in the Green Bay backfield.

Josh Jacobs Career Stats

YearAttRuYDYPCRuTDTgtRecReYdReTDPPR/Gm
201924211504.872720166014.7
202027310653.9124533238015.4
20212178724.096454348015.1
202234016534.9126453400019.3
20232338053.565437296013.9

A year after leading the NFL in rushing, the bottom fell out on Jacobs in 2023.

He had a career-low season in just about every department as a runner and ended up as one of the larger draft disappointments of the season.

Jacobs only had five games higher than RB20 in weekly scoring before suffering a quad injury in Week 14 that sidelined him for the remainder of the year.

Josh Jacobs Advanced Stats

YearEPA/AttLight Box%Success%Explosive%Stuff%1D/RshYBC/AttYAC/Att
2019-0.0421.1%40.5%10.3%15.3%21.9%1.273.48
2020-0.1516.1%38.8%11.4%19.8%22.3%1.082.82
2021-0.1429.5%40.6%9.7%15.7%20.7%1.182.84
20220.0230.9%44.2%12.1%15.0%27.4%1.463.40
2023-0.1620.6%32.2%3.9%19.3%14.6%1.112.35

From an advanced metric perspective, it was even worse than it looked in the counting stats department.

Out of 49 running backs with 100 or more rushes in the regular season, Jacobs only bested Kareem Hunt in the rate of runs to gain 10 or more yards.  His 3.9% explosive run rate was by far the lowest rate of his career.

The only running back on the same list to have a lower rate of runs gaining a first down or touchdown was Dameon Pierce.

The only running backs with a lower rate of yards after contact per carry were Pierce, Hunt, and Jamaal Williams.

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Josh Jacobs 2024 Fantasy Football Outlook

Comparing Jacobs to what the Packers received from their backfield a year ago, Jacobs looks comparatively similar to what they got out of Dillon.

YearEPA/AttLight Box%Success%Explosive%Stuff%1D/RshYBC/AttYAC/Att
Jacobs-0.1620.6%32.2%3.9%19.3%14.6%1.112.35
Dillon-0.1424.7%32.0%4.5%17.4%18.0%0.752.69
A. Jones-0.0226.1%44.4%10.6%12.7%23.9%1.453.18

This Green Bay offensive line was beaten up a year ago, but when comparing the objective metrics from both teams, the Raiders were 18th in ESPN’s run block win rate while Green Bay was 16th.

Pro Football Focus had the Raiders 14th in collective run blocking and the Packers 23rd.

The positive news is that 2023 looks like a significant outlier for Jacobs compared to his career rates.

Going back to the last offseason, I was concerned about Jacobs coming off a season in which he led the NFL with 393 touches.

Here is what I wrote about Jacobs coming off his robust 2022 campaign:

Over the past 10 years, Jacobs is just the 13th running back to clear 375 touches in a season.

Just one of those running backs came back and scored more PPR points per game in the following season. Just three matched their per-game touch totals.

Going back to 1992, there have been 71 seasons in which a back has cleared 375 touches.

67.7% of those running backs had a decline in points per game the following season with an average loss of -2.7 points per game.

77.5% of those backs averaged fewer touches per game the next season with an average loss of -3.2 touches per game.

Jacobs had one of the steepest declines of that group.

There is a thin line in doing what Derrick Henry has done for his career.

There is a level of concern that Jacobs’ 2022 season ends up like DeMarco Murray’s 2014 season.

Murray did have 1,664 yards and 12 touchdowns two years removed from that massive breakout after a failed year with the Eagles following that breakout when he landed in Tennessee.

Hopefully, the results after that for Murray do not follow suit here as that was the last hurrah for fantasy gamers and Murray.

Jacobs just turned 26 a month ago, so we should have runway left for him to cash in while he should be expected to receive a large workload in Green Bay given the overall fallout of things in this backfield.

The only other Packer running backs to touch the football a year ago outside of Jones and Dillon were Patrick Taylor (43), Emanuel Wilson (18), James Robinson (two), and Kenyan Drake (one).

As bad as things were in this run game, we also did see Jones go gangbusters to close the year when he went over 100 rushing yards in each of the final five games of the season while racking up 22, 22, 27, 22, and 21 touches in those games.

That spike output is within grasp for Jacobs.

No matter what you think about how close those offensive line metrics were from a year between the Raiders and Packers, the Packers were still light years a better offensive environment in terms of providing scoring potential.

Green Bay ended up 12th in the league in scoring (22.5 points per game) while Las Vegas was 23rd (19.5). The Packers also closed the year with a significant jump in output once Jordan Love turned things on.

Green Bay was second in the NFL in points per drive (2.79) over their final nine games of the season.

I still have mild concerns about paying a tax for Jacobs as an RB1 based on his truth lying somewhere between his 2022 and 2023 output, but there is no doubt that he belongs in the RB1 conversation for fantasy football based on expected volume and offensive attachment.

Zamir White 2024 Fantasy Football Outlook

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