Jonathan Taylor struggled out of the gates in his rookie campaign, but then showed people why the Colts thought so highly of him by the end of the season. Coming out of Wisconsin in 2019, Taylor was known as a strong and dynamic running back who had a fumbling problem. That was on full display early in the season, and Taylor was sent to the doghouse for his fumbles. Taylor then figured it out and even managed to claim the rookie rushing record for yards in a season for the Colts. Taylor is the clear bell-cow running back for the Colts heading into 2021 and he will need to keep up his level of production if the Colts want to return to the playoffs.
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Taylor was sloppy at the beginning of the season for the Colts. Apart from his game against the Vikings, where he had 26 carries for 101 yards, 1 touchdown, and 18 fantasy points, Taylor struggled to gain over 70 yards in 8 out of 9 games. He did salvage a fantasy role through his presence in the passing game and his touchdown carries, but Taylor looked bad on tape. However, he turned it around in his 29.5 point outburst where he ran 20 times for 150 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Raiders. Taylor kept up this frantic pace by scoring 7 touchdowns and rushed for 560 yards in the last 4 games of the season. Taylor ended up rushing for a franchise 1169 yards for a rookie and scored 12 touchdowns to make fantasy owners everywhere happy. Taylor will look to add to his legacy in his 2nd year in the league.
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Taylor is the guy now in Indianapolis and he will get every opportunity to destroy the league in 2021. Taylor is a big strong back, as he stands at a modest 5’10” 227lbs, and he has the speed and quickness to break away from everyone, as he ran a 4.41 40 yard dash. Taylor ended his season with the hottest streak for a back in the NFL and had everything working for him. Taylor also got more touches per game as his rookie season continued and showed why he was deserving of the increased workload. Taylor is a complete back as he has the hands, burst, strength, and footwork necessary to be a star back in the NFL.
ADP & Auction Value
ADP: 7, Round 1, RB7
Auction Value: $42
Jonathan Taylor is a top 10 running back heading into the 2021 season. Not bad for a guy also entering his second season as a pro. Taylor is a top-tier back already even though he is not on the same level as players like Christian McCaffrey or Alvin Kamara. He is still a number #1 running back for a fantasy squad and should be a top 10 pick in every fantasy league. He is more on the level of Nick Chubb and Aaron Jones. These guys operate more like traditional running backs as they rush a lot more than they catch the ball. Taylor is going to have an incredible year for the Colts and any fantasy team should be chomping at the bit to draft him.
Taylor’s floor is dependent on his history with fumbles. In college, Taylor fumbled the ball 18 times at Wisconsin with 15 of them being recovered by the other team. Taylor is also no stranger to a heavy workload as in his 3 years in college, Taylor rushed a total of 926 times. That is a ton of carries to have before you turn pro. Running backs can only take so many hits before their body gives out and the high rushing attempts Taylor had before he played for the Colts could lead to knee and leg injuries as soon as next season. That being said, Taylor will get many opportunities to prosper and if he can limit his fumbles and avoid injury, the lowest Taylor can fall is to your RB2 for your fantasy team.
Taylor has 5 Division 1 FBS football records, and that talent translated directly onto the NFL level. Taylor had a slow start in his rookie year and then excelled as the lead guy for the Colts. So imagine what Taylor can do when he has the lead role for the start of the season? I can see Taylor competing with Derrick Henry and other dominant backs in the league for the rushing title by the end of next year. Taylor is great because he jukes out slower linebackers and defensive linemen while also being able to run over smaller cornerbacks and safeties. Taylor is one of the best young backs that entered the league last year and should put up better numbers with his new increased workload.
Indianapolis Colts Offense
A lot of things have changed for the Colts since their Wild Card Playoff loss to the Bills. Phillip Rivers has retired after his lackluster year as the starting quarterback and backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett signed with the Dolphins after 3 seasons with the Colts. The big splash move for the Colts this offseason was trading for quarterback Carson Wentz from the Eagles. Wentz is reunited with Frank Reich, and the combo of Wentz and Reich was deadly for defenses across the NFL as Wentz had a career year throwing for 3296 yards and 33 touchdowns in 13 games in 2017. The Colts are great in the run game as they rushed for the 11th most yards in the league last season and were led by a trio of dangerous backs in Jonathan Taylor, Nyhiem Hines, and Marlon Mack. Their receiving core is the weakest part of their team as their best receiver was T.Y. Hilton, who missed 1 game last season and 9 games over the last 3 seasons. Guys like Michael Pittman Jr. and Zach Pascal showed promise, but they are far from the 2nd best receiving option on a football team. The Colts had a solid offensive team last season, as they recorded the 10th most yards and the 9th most points, and they might be even better if Wentz and Reich can recreate the magic they had in Philadelphia.
Strength of Schedule
Losing in Wild Card Weekend has netted the Colts with the 23rd hardest schedule in the NFL next season. Not only do the Colts have to play their Division rivals twice, in the Titans, Jaguars, and Texans, they also have to play the AFC East, NFC West, Ravens, Buccaneers, and Raiders. I don’t know how this could possibly be the 23rd hardest schedule in the NFL as the first 5 games of their schedule are brutal. The Colts have to play the Seahawks, Rams, Titans, Dolphins, and Ravens in their first 5 weeks. Those are 5 potential playoff teams so navigating those stretch of games is going to be crucial for the Colts playoff chances. Their schedule levels out from there as they get to play weaker teams like the Jaguars twice, the Texans twice, the Jets, and the Raiders as well as teams they have a chance of beating like the Patriots, Cardinals, Bills, Buccaneers, and the Titans. The AFC South is very top-heavy this year as only the Titans and Colts have a real shot at the playoffs, so the Colts vs Titans matchups will be the most crucial for both of their seasons.
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