The NFL preseason is truly a magical time as fantasy football enthusiasts return from hibernation and start plotting their preferred draft strategies to finally take down that guy Dave from Accounting.
The Indianapolis Colts, who are having a tumultuous offseason, have a star running back in the making in Jonathan Taylor. With injuries to starting quarterback Carson Wentz and left guard Quenton Nelson, anxiety about what to do with Taylor is mounting. Don’t let it get to you.
The second-year running back, who finished as the third-leading rusher in the NFL last season with 1,169 rushing yards, is set to dominate in 2021.
Jonathan Taylor was dominant down the stretch
The rookie season for the 2020 second-round draft pick got off to a shaky start, but it was mostly due to weird workload management by the coaching staff. After seeing 26 carries and taking them for 101 yards and a touchdown in Week 2, he dropped to 13 carries in a blowout win against the hapless New York Jets.
It made no sense. Normally, teams rely on their running game in a positive game script. His carries being cut in half was shocking. Between Weeks 2-10, he only saw more than 12 carries one time. He saw two games with an abysmal six and seven carries.
Then he caught fire.
Between Weeks 11-17, Taylor was the overall RB3 with 145.7 points in point-per-reception (PPR) scoring despite missing a week because of COVID-19 protocols. He averaged 24.3 fantasy points per game and was terrific during the Week 16 fantasy championship week, racking up 74 yards and two touchdowns against a tough Pittsburgh Steelers defense. After the fantasy season ended for most players, Taylor had a monster Week 17 game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, amassing 253 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
Head Coach Frank Reich called him a “bell-cow back”
With fellow running back Marlon Mack making his way back from a torn Achilles that opened the door for Taylor early last season, questions have emerged about Taylor’s potential workload.
Head coach Frank Reich made sure to squash them.
“I think going into this season this year, it’ll be a little bit more, hey, Jonathan will be a little bit more of the bell cow. But we’re still going to spread it around,” Reich said, according to Colts Wire.
The Colts have Mack returning, have a receiving threat out of the backfield in Nyheim Hines, and will likely work Jordan Wilkins into the fold as well. That’s the way the NFL works these days — most backfields, aside from a couple, will share some carries.
But while Taylor won’t have 300-plus carries like Derrick Henry, he is still poised to command a substantial amount of the carries.
His ADP is a screaming value
Currently going at 11th overall in PPR scoring according to FantasyPros‘ consensus average draft position (ADP), he’s being taken as the eighth running back off the board, meaning you can select a standout running back in the early second round.
There’s no way Taylor should be available there.
The fears about Quenton Nelson missing time appear to be overblown as he’s already back on the sidelines at practice with no boot or wrap just seven days after foot surgery, according to Zak Keefer of The Athletic. With an original timeline of five to 13 weeks, it’s promising that he’s already recovering well. It’s entirely possible he could be available for Week 1.
Taylor is a running back with Pro Football Focus‘ No. 2 offensive line heading into the 2021 season, and plays in a weak division. Feel free to let everyone else panic about the storylines surrounding him and then draft him to anchor your fantasy team this fall.