Is Jonathan Taylor Fantasy Football's Best Rookie RB?

The Colts added Jonathan Taylor to a backfield that already includes Marlon Mack. What does that mean for both RBs' fantasy football value?
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The Indianapolis Colts traded up to the 41st overall pick in the second round to draft All-American running back Jonathan Taylor out of the University of Wisconsin. The Colts sent the 44th and the 160th picks to the Cleveland Browns in order to move up three spots.

The two-time Doak Walker Award winner (2018 and 2019) is a durable, explosive runner who looks to use his punishing running style to wear down opposing defenders. Taylor broke Herschel Walker’s record (5,596 yards) for most rushing yards in the first three years of a collegiate career. He finished among the top 10 in the Heisman Trophy voting the last three seasons and owns the NCAA record for most 200-yard rushing games (12). Wisconsin reporter Jake Kocorowski recently highlighted that Taylor finished his career as one of the greatest backs not just in Wisconsin history but in FBS lore.

Taylor put up some of the best numbers in college football history, becoming the seventh player ever to rush for 6,000 yards and he was the first to ever do so in just three seasons. The powerful back rushed for 1,977, 2,194 and 2,003 yards with 50 total touchdowns over three seasons with the Badgers. The 5-foot-10, 226-pound Taylor really helped himself immensely at the combine with impressive drills highlighted by posting a superb 40 time of 4.39 (fastest among all running backs).

The former Badger joins a Colts roster loaded with running back talent that consists of Marlon Mack, Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins. In fact, just look at what the Colts’ skill positions on offense look like after free agency and the draft:

QB: Philip Rivers
RB: Marlon Mack / Jonathan Taylor
WR1: T.Y. Hilton
WR2: Michael Pittman Jr.
SLOT: Zach Pascal / Parris Campbell
TE: Jack Doyle

The Colts now feature Rivers under center, a star wideout in Hilton, a solid tight end in Doyle while also adding the electric Pittman in the second round. Taylor should quickly earn a large role within the offense and could become a featured back in the near future, especially if the club decides not to extend Mack’s contract beyond this season.

In three seasons with the Colts, Mack has shown flashes but he is not a top back in PPR fantasy football leagues with a paltry 31 receptions for 185 yards combined over the past two seasons. Mack has yet to play more than 14 games in a season and injuries have obviously made the Colts question if he can actually be their franchise back. Entering a contract year, Mack will have now have plenty of competition to keep him motivated.

Of all of the rookie running backs selected in this year’s draft, I envision Taylor having the best chance of making an immediate impact from a fantasy perspective. I am very high on Clyde Edwards-Helaire joining the Chiefs, but Damien Williams will still have the lead role in 2020. D’Andre Swift will have a highly productive Kerryon Johnson to deal with in earning consideration for the RB1 role. However, Taylor is arguably the more explosive back with superior hands to Mack, so he ranks the highest in PPR drafts among the rookie running back class heading into 2020. He is worthy of a mid-round draft pick. 

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