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Don’t Believe the Hype: Jonathan Taylor Still the No. 1 Fantasy Pick

Colts head coach Frank Reich hints they won’t overwork Taylor, but he’s still your most trusted RB1 option.

The best part about fantasy football is that everyone has an opinion about the player pool. I went to my mother’s house the other day. She said to me, “You better not draft that Jonathan Taylor this year. That damn Colts head coach isn’t going to give him the ball 350 times like last year.” Mind you, my mother is 82 in a wheel and legally blind. She has no idea what fantasy football is, and the extent of her football fandom is limited to when the Patriots are in the Super Bowl. Occasionally, she might have some juice in a game with a football square.

I don’t know where she heard that information, but it is something that has been floated out about Taylor over the past couple of weeks after a comment by Frank Reich.

Colts head coach Frank Reich told ESPN’s Stephen Holder that the goal is to win a championship, not to make Taylor the MVP or rushing leader. If they need to cut back on his volume in order to accomplish that, so be it. “You don’t see teams that have this ground-and-pound run game win championships,” he said. “Our best formula is to be balanced. I’m not saying he won’t lead the league in touches, because you never know how things are going to play out. But I almost don’t want him to.”

Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor (28) runs a drill during practice at the NFL team’s football training camp in Westfield, Ind., Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022.

In the National Fantasy Football Championship from June 1 to Aug. 1, Taylor had an ADP of 1.3 and was never picked lower than third. The only players selected first in 81 online championship drafts were Cooper Kupp (ADP – 2.9, Justin Jefferson (ADP – 3.17) and Christian McCaffrey (ADP – 3.4).

Over the following two weeks (61 drafts), Taylor didn’t have any change in his ADP (1.3), while McCaffrey moved to 2.6 at the expense of Kupp (3.5). After the blurb about Taylor’s possible lower workload, McCaffrey overtook Taylor in ADP (1.3 to 2.5) in the NFFC Primetime event (10 drafts). More drafters were also willing to push Jefferson (ADP of 2.7) ahead of Taylor in more drafts.

So in a matter of two short weeks, with more money on the line at the NFFC, suddenly McCaffrey is a more trusted asset after missing 23 games over the past two seasons. I understand his ceiling due to his value in pass-catching, but the read on Taylor’s opportunity looks wrong. The Colts don’t want to bury him with touches, but when you are a beast, you are a beast. Indianapolis needs to win games, and they need Taylor to do well to accomplish that feat. He is a big, fast, powerful runner who fits the foundation RB1 role to a tee. Just look at last year’s numbers:

  • 21 touchdowns
  • 5.5 yards per rush
  • 14 runs of 20 yards or more with five carries reaching 40 yards
  • 9.0 yards per catch
  • Five catches of more than 20 yards (one over 40 yards)
  • 84.4% catch rate so far in his career (76-for-90)

I received my draft slots for a high-stakes event about a month ago. Unfortunately, I failed to get the first overall pick, so I thought I had no chance at Taylor. Based on the recent draft trend, I may have a chance at him in every draft in the NFFC, and I will gladly take the running back advantage.

Last year, the Colts’ running backs combined for 2,899 yards with 23 touchdowns and 82 catches on 527 touches. They ran the ball 49.4% of the time, falling in with what Indianapolis wants to do on offense again this season.

Reading between the line in Reich’s earlier comments, there is a clear role for Nyheim Hines, and Indy knows they need to be better passing the ball. Taylor will be the bell cow runner when they play from the lead in the second half. The Colts will get him two to three chances a game via the pass based on his previous success. Indianapolis has questionable receiving options at WR2, WR3 and TE, giving Hynes a better window to catch balls. There will be many plays when their top two backs are on the field at the same time.

In the end, I’m drafting Taylor every chance I get. I want to get a share or two of McCaffrey and Jefferson, but I will not move them up in drafts. Taylor checks all the boxes I’m looking for at RB1, and trajectory is still on the rise. 

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