Jonathan Taylor was seen by many as the top running back coming into the 2020 NFL Draft. Somehow, he made it all the way down to the Indianapolis Colts as the 41st overall pick. With an aging quarterback in Philip Rivers, and arguably the best run-blocking offensive line in the NFL, there really wasn’t a better team for him to start his pro career with. His early role in fantasy football is murky, but he has too much upside to not be taken in drafts this season.
Jonathan Taylor Fantasy Football Outlook for 2020
Taylor was about a productive runner as there gets in college and his stats are almost unbelievable. He had over 6,000 rushing yards in his three seasons at Wisconsin. He also added another 50 touchdowns on the ground, and five more through the air. His final season with the Badgers he totaled 2,255 scrimmage yards and 26 touchdowns.
These stats helped Taylor break Herschel Walker’s record for most rushing yards through their Junior seasons. He also broke a record that was formerly a three-way tie with Marcus Allen, Ron Dayne, and Ricky Williams for most 200-yard rushing games. At five-foot-ten and 226 pounds, Taylor is a big back. But he is also super fast. He clocked in a 4.39 40-yard dash time at the combine.
Taylor’s one knock is that he was not often used in the passing game. He only caught eight passes in each of his first two college seasons. The Badgers got him just a little more involved his final year, where he caught 26 balls for 252 yards. Taylor made showcasing his receiving skills a priority his pro day, and called himself “a natural pass-catcher.” So, those who draft him have to have some hope that Indianapolis takes advantage of his ability.
His measurables and production were enough to get the Colts to take him in the second round of the draft this past year. He is going a lot later in fantasy drafts. However, the selection could pay dividends for team managers.
Taylor would probably be a first-round pick in fantasy football drafts it not for his teammate Marlon Mack. As great as Taylor’s college production was, Mack is the incumbent who has been no scrub himself. Last year Mack was the RB19 in fantasy points-per-game for half-point PPR leagues. He was even better the year prior, clocking in an RB11 finish spot in the same category.
However, the Colts took a running back in the second for a reason. Mack hasn’t shown that he can stay healthy during his time as a starter. He has missed six games the past two seasons and has banged up in many others. Plus, one has to wonder how much production Mack is putting up as a result of his own skillset or his offensive line. Their line was ranked third in the NFL by Pro Football Focus in 2019, and with all their starters returning, they have them projected as the top line for 2020.
Many expect Taylor to take the lead back role at some point in the season, but the question is when. Most situations like this have the rookie not being involved for much of the season. Frank Reich has confirmed Mack will begin the season as the starter. Nevertheless, Reich also noted that Taylor will be involved early and often. He recently stated, “we’re going to continue to take the same approach that we have, where it’s week in and week out, hot hand, all those things.”
Jonathan Taylor ADP and Outlook
The price tag on Jonathan Taylor according to FantasyPros is RB22. He is lumped in with most of the other backs with high upside but questions on just how productive they will be. Immediate ahead of him are Melvin Gordon, Le’Veon Bell, and David Johnson. Gordon is a top-ten back when he gets a full workload, but he has dealt with health concerns and now finds himself in what could be a timeshare with Lindsay. Bell looked like a shell of himself in his first year with the Jets, but he is still the unquestioned bell-cow, and is looking to bounce back in a big way this season. Johnson is similar to Bell, but he hasn’t looked like himself in years. People drafting him are probably most banking on the volume they hope he gets in Houston.
Overall, Taylor is about as risky as the three ahead of him, but delivers as much, if not more upside. Many expect him to be the lead back by season’s end, which for team managers, means playoffs and potentially the fantasy championship. His biggest question at this point isn’t if he will produce, but when. However, all reports hint that he will at least be involved with the Colts early in the season. Behind the top offensive line in football, Taylor is a juicy option that should be targeted at his current ADP.
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