Jonathan Taylor
(Photo by Andy Lyons:Getty Images)

Is Jonathan Taylor An Elite RB1 In 2021 Fantasy Football?

Jonathan Taylor burst onto the scene his rookie year and found himself in the starting role as the 2020 season concluded. With an injury to Marlon Mack in week one, Taylor and Nyheim Hines stepped up and carried the load but Taylor’s season started a little slow and he seemed to be in Head Coach Frank Reich’s doghouse. In Taylor’s first ten games, he went over double-digit fantasy points five times but also notched stinkers in the forms of 3.1 and 3.7-point games in weeks eight and ten.

Taylor finished the season strong, averaging 24.06 points a game in weeks 13-17, and capped off the championship week with a 37.4-point performance against Jacksonville. His final stats for 2020 were 1169 rushing yards, 11 rushing touchdowns, 299 receiving yards, and one receiving touchdown.

There are a few causes for concern when it comes to relying on Taylor to carry your RB1 production. First, they upgraded at quarterback from an aged Philip Rivers to Carson Wentz. The Colts were 20th in pass attempts, 24th in pass rate at 54.6%, and 11th in pass yards per game, but all of those numbers will rise with Wentz under center. Second, Marlon Mack is coming back from injury, which is going to limit Taylor’s touches, as Mack and Hines will be on the field in passing situations more often than Taylor.

A couple of things working in Taylor’s favor are the Colts defense and offensive line. The Colts defense, headlined by Darius Leonard and DeForest Buckner, ranked in the top ten in least number of yards allowed and was top six in takeaways with 25. The Colts defense is going to get stops, and as long as the Colts’ offense is competent with Wentz, Taylor will have several opportunities to run the clock out at the end of games. Second, although I hate PFF and their bullshit analytics, they ranked the Colts the second-best offensive line heading into the 2021 season, and the team has the best interior lineman in the league in Quenton Nelson.

Taylor is going to have a very productive season, but I would caution taking him high in the draft. I always worry about guys who are part of “running back by committee” and while Taylor is the feature back for the Colts, Mack and Hines will get touches. Again, you need to gauge where Taylor is in your draft, obviously go with McCaffrey, Kamara, or Cook if you have a top pick. I would also go with Davante Adams or even Travis Kelce before drafting Taylor. If you can get Taylor as a low-end RB1 or high-end RB2, that is great value but do not expect him to carry your running back production by himself.

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