Tired of weathering criticism from aggrieved fantasy football players, Las Vegas Raiders star Josh Jacobs trolled fans on Instagram by insisting he would not be in uniform for Sunday’s game against Indianapolis, a believable premise considering he had missed the previous week’s game with an ankle injury. The second-year ball-carrier tipped his hand by posting a follow-up Instagram story that implied his earlier message was a joke aimed at riling up the fantasy masses. Jacobs expressed his contempt for fantasy players by including a middle finger emoji, a gesture Matthew Berry did not appreciate.
“Why are you literally taking a middle finger to fantasy players who have done nothing, Josh, but show you love?” asked Berry during Wednesday’s episode of The Fantasy Show on streaming platform ESPN+. “I’ve been a longtime fan and supporter of Josh Jacobs and this really rubbed me the wrong way.”
Jacobs, who registered 74 yards (49 rushing, 25 receiving) Sunday after initially leading fantasy owners to believe he wouldn’t play, responded to Berry, doubling down on his hatred for all things fantasy football.
After a brief and decidedly heated exchange, Jacobs went ahead and blocked the popular ESPN analyst on Twitter. While Berry remains steadfast in his belief Jacobs crossed the line with his seemingly unprovoked attack on fantasy players, not everyone shares in that view. Though JJ Zachariason stopped short of defending Jacobs, the editor and chief of FanDuel understands where the running back is coming from, acknowledging the harsh, bordering on indefensible criticism players receive from frustrated fantasy owners on a weekly basis.
Berry, who said he spent about 90 minutes with Jacobs during their interview last year, is well-aware of the toxic dynamic created by Twitter, allowing anyone with internet and a smartphone to air their dirty laundry online without fear of repercussion. Players definitely don’t deserve that level of vitriol for simply doing their jobs, though Berry is also right that Jacobs might want to think twice before biting the hand that feeds him.
“It’s basically just a middle finger to fantasy players who have rooted for Josh Jacobs since he was drafted as a rookie, since he was playing for a team that no one else cared about because the Raiders were terrible last year. A bunch of fantasy players who buy his jersey, who subscribe to Red Zone, who watch the television games, by the way, all of which is revenue that goes to NFL players,” fumed Berry during a segment called “Don’t Be This Guy.” “No NFL player should ever care about fantasy players. You shouldn’t care about our fantasy matchups. But I’ll tell you what, you also shouldn’t insult us.”
We’ll see what kind of reception Jacobs receives from the fantasy community when he suits up for Thursday’s AFC West showdown against the Chargers.