Editor’s Note: To help you dominate your rookie drafts, this series will feature a look at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of over 40 dynasty rookie draft prospects and run all through the month of May and into July. We’ll cover all the premier prospects but also give you critical information on some of the lesser-known talents. All of these rookie updates will be loaded into our ever-evolving 2018 Rookie Draft Guide – the ultimate resource for dynasty enthusiasts all over the world.
Name: Justin Jackson
Position: Running Back
Pro Team: Los Angeles Chargers
College Team: Northwestern Wildcats
Draft Status: Round Seven, 251st Overall
- Height: 6’0’’
- Weight: 193 Pounds
- Arm Length: 30 5/8’’
- 40-Yard Dash: 4.52
- Three Cone: 6.81
- Vertical Jump: 38.5’’
- Broad Jump: 122’’
- Bench Press 13
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Jackson moves laterally exceptionally well, one of the main reasons why he was one of the most elusive runners in the draft. His short-area quickness makes him very slippery in the open field. Even though he’s a shade under 200 pounds, he runs much larger than his size. With natural hands and the ability to scoot away from defenders, he’s also a tremendous receiving threat in the passing game.
During his collegiate career, he tallied four straight 1,000-yard seasons, totaling 5,440 yards rushing. He also had at least 21 catches in each season. Jackson’s best season came during his junior year when he accumulated 1,743 total yards and 15 touchdowns.
He runs hard, but he doesn’t have the power to consistently break tackles. His thin frame will make it very difficult for him to handle a full workload at the NFL level. With 1,264 touches from scrimmage, Jackson has a lot of wear on the tires and that could impact the longevity of his career.
Not all seventh-round picks are created equal. Jackson has the chance to be the team’s second-string running back right out of the gate. He might even get the chance to play on passing downs and get a few catches out of the backfield. If Melvin Gordon goes down with an injury, Jackson’s workload will more than likely increase. Outside of him and Austin Ekeler, the rest of the running backs on the roster are nothing to shake a stick at.
Gordon could prevent Jackson from ever breaking out. If Gordon remains healthy and plays well, then Jackson may never get enough touches to be fantasy relevant. Ekeler is also talented enough to cannibalize some of the workload, making it harder for Jackson to carve out a large role within the offense. He will need to take advantage of all opportunities in camp if he wants to stand out from the rest of the running backs on the roster.
I expect him to be the team’s clear-cut second-string running back. Expectations should be limited, but he should put up some numbers in the box score during his rookie season. Jackson should get some work in the passing game, making him a contrarian PPR play against favorable matchups.
Jackson is either going to develop into the team’s long-term satellite back or simply fall out of the league. He doesn’t have the size to be a three-down back, but if he does get used in that role, even for a short period of time, expect him to quickly break down. However, he makes a perfect fit as the team’s pass-catching specialist while also churning out some yards on the ground. Jackson and Gordon could be a very effective one-two punch for the Chargers.
He’s a poor man’s Christian McCaffrey. Jackson has similar athletic traits, but he’s a shade smaller and slower in almost every athletic category. Both backs are good at catching the ball out of the backfield, but McCaffrey is the better receiver. Even though there are some similarities between the two running backs, McCaffrey is a much better player and his dynasty value and draft pedigree warrants that.
Taiwan Jones might be more of a realistic comparison to Jackson. Jones was a small-school prospect, but like Jackson, he was a solid receiving threat out of the backfield. Jones caught 64 passes during his last two seasons at Eastern Washington. He also accounted for 3,858 total yards during those two years. The two running backs are also similar athletes with almost identical size-speed ratios.
I think Jackson is a better prospect than Jones. He excelled against Big Ten competition where Jones had to cut his teeth at the FCS level. Also, on film, Jackson is more explosiveness and displays more lateral quickness.
PROJECTED RANGE FOR ROOKIE DRAFTS
Jackson has a Rookie ADP of 43.40, making him a mid-fourth-round pick in rookie drafts. On average, he’s usually the 15th running back off the board. I’d pay the fourth-round price tag to get him on my team. You’re getting a very productive runner who can catch the ball out of the backfield. His seventh-round draft pedigree is the main reason why he’s not valued higher. You must remember that this year’s running back class is well above average when it comes to talent which is going to cause some solid prospect to fall to the later rounds.
The majority of players selected in the fourth round of rookie drafts won’t provide an impact for dynasty teams. That being said, you won’t be out much if Jackson doesn’t hit. He could be just a journeyman backup running back. However, he does have the production and athletic profiles to be a fantasy-relevant satellite running back.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Jackson exceeds expectations and becomes a dependable RB2 or flex option in fantasy. I’ve been trying to land him in all of my rookie drafts. He’s a player I’ve been consistently watching for the last few years and I’m excited to see how his skill set translates to the NFL level.