When analyzing the fantasy worthiness of Brandon Jacobs, I first had to put aside any and all personal feelings because I have always enjoyed watching the man play. From the moment I first saw this behemoth of a running back in the 2005 season I was smitten, yes smitten. I am secure enough in my masculinity to use such a word to describe my affinity for Jacobs. Drafted in the 4th round out of Southern Illinois University by the Giants, after stops at Coffeyville Community College and Auburn, where the presence of future NFL running backs, Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown would leave him third on the depth chart and precipitate a transfer to SIU. In his one season for the Division 1-AA Salukis, he would post an impressive 992 yards on 150 carries, another 83 yards receiving and 19 touchdowns. Showing my age here for a moment, I immediately harkened back to the days of "the Nigerian Nightmare" Christian Okoye when watching Jacobs tote the rock. In fact, Jacobs is actually three inches taller and over ten pounds heavier than Okoye, who was 6'1", 253lbs in his prime. That my friends, is saying something because Okoye terrorized the league during his six years in the NFL, winning the rushing title in 1989(thank you Barry Sanders) before injuries to his knee forced him to retire after the 1992 season. Surprisingly, Jacobs has averaged more yards per carry in his seven seasons (4.5 yards), than Okoye did for the six years he was in the league (3.9) and Jacobs scored 52 touchdowns in his first six seasons to the 40 scored for Okoye. Jacobs also managed to do all of this while carrying the ball 321 less times in that time span than Okoye did, Jacobs also accumulated 23 more receptions in his first six years than Okoye did for his career. The bottom line is, most pundits continue to wax poetic about the battering ram style and effectiveness of "The Nigerian Nightmare", while undervaluing the achievements of Brandon Jacobs.
In his seven seasons for the Giants, Jacobs has amassed over 5,580 yards from scrimmage in the regular season and scored 60 touchdowns. On the way to helping New York win two Super Bowls, he has also accumulated 461 rushing yards, 45 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns in 10 postseason games. Paired with Tiki Barber for his first two seasons in the NFL, Jacobs carried the ball 134 times for 522 yards, accumulated 149 more yards receiving and scored 16 touchdowns. The 2007 and 2008 seasons would statistically be the best years of Jacobs' career as he would rush for over 1000 yards in each of the years and amass 21 total touchdowns, despite playing in only 24 of 32 possible regular season games. The "Thunder and Lightning" duo of Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw would form a formidable combination for defenses to stop and the Giants would upset the undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. Last season the Giants would once again vanquish the Patriots in the Super Bowl and Jacobs would post 37 yards on 9 carries in what would be his final game for New York. On March 9th, 2012 the New York Giants would release Brandon Jacobs.
The running back position has evolved into the hamster of offenses, the disposable pet, if you will. They have a short life span of effectiveness and a lot of 'experts' point to the age of thirty as the line of demarcation when evaluating running backs. Brandon Jacobs will turn 30 years old before training camps open for the 2012 season and the Giants decided it is time for the youth movement to begin. Jacobs would not be out of work long, as a new team would bring the big running back on board less than three weeks after his release. However, the landing spot for Jacobs is one of the biggest factors in determining his fantasy value going forward. The San Francisco 49ers signed Jacobs to a one year $1.575 million dollar contract to join a backfield that already contains Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and Anthony Dixon. To further complicate things, San Francisco would draft former Oregon speedster LaMichael James in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Admittedly, when examining the 49ers' acquisition of Jacobs I instantly began listing off teams in my head where I felt Jacobs would have been a better fantasy fit; Detroit, Cincinnati, Baltimore and even New England came instantly to mind. San Francisco has Gore, Hunter and has made a concerted effort to bolster their passing game with the signings of Randy Moss , Mario Manningham and selecting AJ Jenkins in the first round of the draft. It is time to look past my man crush, and really look objectively at just what Brandon Jacobs may have to offer fantasy wise upon landing by the Bay. What in the world could they be thinking by bringing another running back into the stable of talent already assembled?
San Francisco is thinking Super Bowl victory. As plain and simply as it can be stated, the 49ers have assembled the perfect pieces to finish the job they began last season and win a championship for the first time since 1994. The 49ers were two untimely fumbles away from representing the NFC in last years Super Bowl, losing in overtime to the New York Giants 20-17 in the Conference championship game. San Francisco rode their smothering, physical, intimidating defense and a smash mouth, pound the rock offense to a 13-3 regular season record in 2011. However, the lack of a true passing attack needed to be addressed as the 49ers threw the ball the second fewest times last season, with the Tebow led Denver Broncos being the only team to attempt fewer passes. While Frank Gore maintains he was physically fine and feeling good throughout the season, he appeared to slow considerably as the season progressed and the numbers support that theory. Gore averaged 4.9 yards a carry in the first 8 games of 2011, compiling 782 yards on 159 carries and scoring 5 touchdowns. For the second half of the season he would put up 429 yards rushing on 123 attempts for an average of only 3.48 yards a carry, punch in only 3 touchdowns in those 8 contests. Whether it was fatigue or an undisclosed injury, there was a marked drop off in Gore's production in the latter half of the season and that is where the addition of Brandon Jacobs makes perfect sense. The 49ers were third in the league last season in rushing attempts and now have the means to continue that trend while keeping Frank Gore from wearing down. Brandon Jacobs has been part of a tandem style of rushing attack for the entirety of his NFL career and excels in this style of offense. He is a punishing complement to the running game; a short yardage/goal line option and can step in to spell Gore for a series or two a game. Third down duties for San Francisco can be handled by the speed duo of Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James and the newly revamped receiving corps will prevent teams from stacking the box to defend the run. San Francisco attempted 52 field goals in 2011, which was 11 more field goal attempts than the next closest team, the Washington Redskins. There is no way that coach Jim Harbaugh wants to see a repeat of that scenario this season and Brandon Jacobs will help the 49ers not only keep the chains moving but also by adding another goal line option to their offense.
There have been some reports that Brandon Jacobs is no lock to even make the San Francisco and I vehemently disagree with that assessment. San Francisco did not bring Jacobs on board to earn a job, he was signed to help them get the ball into the end zone and will do just that. Jacobs is still an effective NFL running back and the situation in San Francisco is indeed an ideal one for his skill set. He will not be asked to shoulder the entire load, will get the opportunity to become a touchdown vulture and is a vital addition to the offense. After an objective look at the entire situation, Brandon Jacobs is truly WORTHY of being drafted in 2012.