Raiders tailback Josh Jacobs was on pace to win the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award in 2019 before missing a few games late in the season due to injury. Here are Jacobs’ odds at Mybookie to lead the NFL in rushing yards in the 2020 regular season as well as his over/under yardage total.
Jacobs was the 24th overall pick in the 2019 draft by the Raiders. Jacobs was selected with one of the first-round picks acquired from the Chicago Bears in the September 2018 Khalil Mack trade.
In his three years with the Tide, Jacobs appeared in 42 games. He totaled 1,491 rushing yards on 251 rushes (5.9 avg.) with 16 TDs, adding 48 receptions for 571 yards (11.9 avg.) and five TDs. As a junior, he was named the MVP of the 2018 SEC Championship Game after rushing for 83 yards with two touchdowns.
Jacobs made quite a memorable NFL debut with the Raiders as in a Week 1 win over Denver, he rushed 23 times for 85 yards and two touchdowns and caught one pass for 28 yards. After just the eighth game of the season, Jacobs set the Raiders rookie record for rushing yards in a season with 740, surpassing Marcus Allen’s old record of 697.
Jacobs became the 20th player in NFL history to surpass 700 yards in eight games and was also the first player since Ickey Woods in 1988 to score multiple touchdowns three times in the first eight games of his NFL career.
Jacobs first met Allen at a charity softball game in Las Vegas last summer. They hit it off immediately, staying in contact through Jacobs’ breakthrough rookie season.
“Just to know that he sees certain things in me and to have that belief in me? That’s huge,” Jacobs said. “Especially with me trying to carry the legacy of the great running backs that’s been with the Raiders. For him to be a part of that is just genuine support. He calls and texts me. That’s just unconditional love.”
Jacobs would miss three games with a shoulder injury as a rookie but finished with 1,150 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns on 242 carries (4.8 YPC). Pro Football Focus graded Jacobs as the league-leader in elusive rating and top five in yards after contact per attempt. In addition, Jacobs broke Allen’s team rookie record of three 100-yard rushing games with five, and missed a sixth by one yard.
Had Jacobs not gotten hurt, he would have joined Allen as the Raiders’ only two NFL offensive rookies of the year, as named by the Associated Press. Allen won it in 1982, a year before being named the MVP of Super Bowl XVIII and three years before he was the league MVP. However, Jacobs finished second to Arizona QB Kyler Murray.
As a receiver, Jacobs only caught 20 passes for 166 scoreless receiving yards last year. Raiders GM Mike Mayock said he expects Jacobs to be heavily involved in the passing game this season. Mayock referred to it as “Phase 2” for the 22-year-old in his sophomore follow-up. Jacobs saw just 27 total targets (2.1 per game) last year, which ranked 42nd-overall at his position. Mayock did add that that Jacobs needed to improve in pass protection to grow his role in the passing game.
The team did lose DeAndre Washington’s 108 carries and 41 targets from 2019, though half those carries and 46 percent of the targets came in the three games Jacobs missed.
Will Jacobs win the rushing title this year? Since 2015, the NFL’s leading rusher has averaged 1,483 yards. Compared that from 1990-2014 and the average is 1,739. For Jacobs to really make a run at the league’s rushing title, he will likely need a lot of help from his defense. In games that the Raiders won in 2019, Jacobs averaged 22.1 carries. In losses, he averaged only 15.8 carries.
The Raiders, who of course are now based out of Las Vegas, are 1.5-point favorites Week 1 at Carolina.