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Jonathan Taylor Fantasy Football Outlook

Jonathan Taylor had a disappointing fantasy football season in 2022, but can he bounce back with a new quarterback and head coach?
Jonathan Taylor Fantasy Football

From a fantasy football perspective, few players had a more disappointing season than Jonathan Taylor in 2022. Viewed as the consensus 1.01 prior to the season, injuries and an overall drop in play led him to an RB33 finish, right between Latavius Murray and Samaje Perine. Now that he has a new quarterback and head coach, will he be able to recapture his 2021 magic?

Note: For the time being, we’re going to assume that Jonathan Taylor does not hold out for a new contract.

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2023 Fantasy Football Outlook: Jonathan Taylor

2022 In Review

After earning First-Team All-Pro honors in 2021 while leading the league in rushing yards and touchdowns, Jonathan Taylor had a season to forget in 2022. Appearing in just 11 games, the running back finished the season with a meager 861 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 192 carries to go along with 28 receptions for 143 yards.

This obviously isn’t what anyone expected out of the reigning RB1, but the Colts themselves were a dumpster fire. Matt Ryan’s subpar play combined with a terrible offensive line made it difficult for Taylor to play up to his ceiling. However, even when taking those factors into account, Jonathan Taylor did not have a good year for fantasy football.

Put simply, the 2022 version of Jonathan Taylor was not a special player. According to Pro Football Focus, Taylor finished the year with an underwhelming 67.6 grade, good for 45th out of 60 eligible running backs. The stat-based metrics tell a similar tale, as Taylor’s yard created per touch (2.42, 40th), true yards per carry (4.2, 30th), juke rate (25.9%, 27th), and breakaway run rate (3.6%, 40th) all left something to be desired.

So, in short, the 2022 version of Jonathan Taylor was an average running back on a terrible team. Fortunately, we know that Taylor is probably going to be better in 2023 than he was last year. The second-round pick was a great prospect and that skill translated during his first two years in the league. Maybe 2021 was a career year, but he should remain one of the better talents in the NFL. The only question now is whether or not the Colts will let him reach his ceiling.

Fit on the Indianapolis Colts

The Indianapolis Colts are going to look dramatically different in 2023. Following their 4-12-1 season, the team parted ways with Matt Ryan and selected Anthony Richardson to be their quarterback of the future. The team also signed Gardner Minshew, but all signs point to Richardson being the starter on Day 1.

Anthony Richardson is an incredibly raw prospect with unmatched physical skills that could just as easily be the next Cam Newton or the next Trey Lance. This type of uncertainty is undesirable for a running back’s production, and even if Richardson does hit the ground running, the quarterback’s style of play does not mesh well with Jonathan Taylor from a fantasy football perspective.

Based on his college tape, Anthony Richardson does not believe in checking the ball down. The Florida product is aggressive with the football and will typically choose to target deeper routes compared to the safer underneath looks. When the downfield play isn’t open, Richardson typically turns to his legs to pick up yardage, rather than checking down to the running back. Additionally, Richardson’s elite rushing ability means that he will steal some of Taylor’s carries.

The silver lining here is that Taylor should be insanely efficient when he actually touches the ball. It’s no secret that running backs with mobile quarterbacks do more on a per-touch basis, as opposing defenses have one more player to account for on every single play. Whether it’s Jalen Hurts and Miles Sanders, Cam Newton and Jonathan Stewart, or Lamar Jackson and whichever Ravens running back happens to be healthy, these players all put up great numbers due to their quarterback’s ability to beat defenses on the ground.

Chances are, Jonathan Taylor will finish the year in the RB5-10 range. If you feel the need to take a running back in the back half of the first or early in the second round, Taylor is a fine selection. However, you could probably get more bang for your buck if you go after an elite receiver like Stefon Diggs, Davante Adams, or A.J. Brown.

Main Photo: Jeffrey Becker – USA Today Sports


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