The Duel

Would You Rather: Draft Jaylen Samuels or Justin Jackson in 2019 Fantasy Football

Jason Schandl
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Calling Jaylen Samuels and Justin Jackson handcuffs for the 2019 fantasy football season doesn't quite do them justice. But at the same time, both of them have their fantasy outlooks clouded by the potential that they won't be true committee backs either.

This combination of upside and uncertainty has kept them on the radar in drafts, but also has them both falling pretty late. Samuels has an average draft position (ADP) of RB48, while Jackson is going a few spots behind him at RB53, per FantasyPros.com.

Going off the board in the same part of drafts, which RB should you target?

Justin Jackson Fantasy Outlook

The Los Angeles Chargers backfield is especially tough to project because of Melvin Gordon's holdout. Jackson's value relies on Gordon missing time, because Austin Ekeler will actually be Gordon's complement if he does play.

Even if Gordon holds out, Jackson will play second fiddle to Ekeler. This doesn't rule out his potential as a sleeper though. Jackson seems to be improving his standing in the backfield, playing 34 percent of the Chargers' first-team snaps this preseason, after playing only 29 percent in his final two games with Ekeler and without Gordon in 2018.

Jaylen Samuels Fantasy Outlook

Samuels' standalone value as a rusher may be lower than he's getting credit for this summer. The Pittsburgh Steelers have a long track record of leaning heavily on their lead back, and in Samuels' 2018 rookie season, starter James Conner played 81 percent of the team's offensive snaps before missing Week 14. That was the fifth-highest mark for any RB in the NFL, even though injuries also forced him to miss the second half of his Week 10 contest.

Those injury concerns may lead to the Steelers taking some work off his plate, but there's nothing we've seen from that coaching staff to suggest this is especially likely. That heavy usage is what makes Samuels one of 2019's most valuable handcuffs though. If Conner can't stay healthy, Samuels could be in for workhorse usage of his own.

Samuels' versatility could also allow him to see the field at the same time as Conner, as he's shown the ability to work out of the slot.

His production is likely to be inconsistent while Conner plays, but it's tough to ignore Samuels' upside here.

Jackson needs two things to break in his favor (the Gordon holdout and continuing to take work from Ekeler) to return any value, and while he may be more likely to produce than Samuels, the difference in upside is huge.

In the late rounds of drafts it's less important to find players with a high floor.
While neither RB is likely to crack your starting lineups unless they get get closer to their ceiling, the pay off from Samuels is likely to be much higher.


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Jason Schandl is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Jason Schandl also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jaymun. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.

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