In this series of articles, I’m looking at the fantasy football breakout potential of running backs heading into the 2021 NFL season. (Find the entire series on breakout running backs here.)
This builds off my recent breakout receiver articles that profiled each of the second-year wide receivers. My research on 10 years of historical data points to second- and third-year backs as the most likely to break out and generate the most excess value.
This article focuses on Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs. One of the best ways to determine the range of outcomes and the probability of success for fantasy players is by comparing them to similar historical players. In this analysis, I’ll compare the potential breakout running backs to hundreds of running backs drafted since 2006 and project the likelihood of a breakout based on those who had the most similar size, speed, draft position, college production and rookie metrics.
I’ll be especially focused on the running backs' receiving potential, as the outperformance in receiving volume and efficiency has been the most common trait for breakout running backs in the past.
The matching methodology is similar to the one we used to focus on 2021 wide receiver and running back prospect comps, where I found the closest statistically comparable players using principal component analysis (PCA) and the euclidean distance between the players' components and then gave each a “Similarity” score based on the percentile of distance.
The metrics for the PCA are draft position, weight, 40-yard dash time, rookie- and second-year rushing attempts and rookie- and second-year targets per game. We'll also look at rookie- and second-year PPR fantasy points per game and second-year top-24 weekly finishes.
JOSH JACOBS COMPS