Making the Case Not to Draft Jonathan Taylorby Mason Thompson August 19, 2020 2 comments
The Twitter universe was abuzz earlier this week as the first videos of Jonathan Taylor in pads was released. The second-round pick from Wisconsin has found a great home in Indianapolis behind one of the league’s best offensive lines and a great offensive-minded coach in Frank Reich.
Unfortunately, there is some cause for concern this year in fantasy surrounding Taylor, who is being selected as the RB22 and 48th overall player.
As a resident of Wisconsin, you hear plenty about the next great running backs coming from the Badgers. Taylor had 926 total carries and 6,174 total rushing yards at Wisconsin, which was the biggest knock on him throughout the draft process. Along with that, he only had 42 catches in three years at Wisconsin. He has all the talent in the world to become one of the best backs in the league, but for redraft leagues this year, the Taylor hype needs to come down a bit.
At his current draft price (back-end of the fourth round or early fifth round), Taylor is going ahead of backs such as Devin Singletary, David Montgomery, Mark Ingram, Kareem Hunt, and Raheem Mostert, as well as his teammates in Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines.
Hunt is in a rotational role and Singletary and Mostert could be, but the fact that Taylor is being selected ahead of Montgomery and Ingram a bit absurd. Both are the lead. backs for teams that mainly will rush the ball this year. The biggest thing to note here is that Mack is being taken as the RB39, almost five rounds after Taylor, and Hines is the RB50, eight rounds after him.
Mack finished as the RB22 last year in 14 games as he averaged over 17 carries per game. Hines also added 52 carries and 44 catches last year. The fact that these two have had two years in Reich’s system while Taylor has had zero is a big indicator right now in who could be playing most of the snaps come the first few weeks of the season. Currently, Taylor is being selected in the RB2/FLEX range when he won’t have a three-down workload for most of the season.
The Colts rushed the ball 399 times last year with the combination of Mack, Hines, Jordan Wilkins, and Jonathan Williams. While Indianapolis is likely to rush the ball a ton again this year, Taylor won’t immediately step into a starting role. With Mack going for over 1,000 yards last year and having experience in the offense, he will get the first crack at the start of the season.
Not only is Mack likely to be the starter, but Taylor won’t have work in the passing game. Hines is one of the better pass-catching backs in the league and last year for the Chargers, Austin Ekeler caught 92 passes from Philip Rivers, who is now being brought to Indianapolis. Hines will likely be peppered with targets by Rivers and with Taylor only having 42 career receptions.
Last year, the Colts averaged just a touch under 25 carries a game. Right now, with Mack having the bulk of the experience, he’d get about 13-15 carries per game with Taylor factoring in eight or so, and the combination of Hines/Wilkins getting the remaining carries. There shouldn’t be that large of a gap in redraft leagues between Taylor and Mack and they both should be getting drafted in the seventh and eighth rounds instead of the fourth and ninth rounds. Hines is a bargain in the 12th round, too.
While Taylor could be one of the best backs in the league in a few years, the backfield in Indianapolis is extremely crowded. while he has shown some great promise already in camp, he has also been working with the third team in some cases. He’s a great pick in dynasty leagues, but for this year, temper expectations on how he could perform.
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