Jonathan Taylor: Round 3 RB Steal in 2020 Fantasy Football Drafts

Jonathan Taylor is an elite runner, behind an elite line, with a shot to take over this backfield sooner or later. Don't overthink this, and snare him in Round 3 of Fantasy Football drafts

Draft Jonathan Taylor in Round 3 of 2020 Fantasy Drafts with zero hesitation.

The fact Taylor — a generational rushing talent behind the top line in the league — routinely falls outside of the first two rounds will look laughable at the end of the season.

Granted, the early hesitation on Taylor made (some) sense. HC Frank Reich promised an RBBC, with Marlon Mack assuming the starting role, while Nyheim Hines would siphon receptions. Indeed, an undefined role in a three-headed nightmare warrants caution.

Just how long Taylor’s role will remain “undefined,” however, grows shorter by the day.

As camp opened up, The Athletic wisely pointed out Reich’s tendency to ride the hot hand:

Taylor is expected to share carries with starter Marlon Mack, but don’t be surprised if the rookie has a few breakout games and Reich stays with him. The Colts head coach and offensive play-caller likes riding the hot hand. If Taylor is giving a defense trouble, Reich will keep calling his number.

Pants? Unzipped.

Then, peek at the Colts early-season schedule:

  • Week 1 – Jaguars (Lol)
  • Week 2 – Dismantled Vikings
  • Week 3 – Jets (Lol)

Taylor might not need more than a single steamrolling series in Week 1, let alone three creampuff matchups, to fully take this backfield over. Hell, even in a timeshare, 14+ touches would yield incredible totals.

Pants? Coming down.

Next, Taylor’s (unsurprisingly) been the early star of Colts camp as he already sees “a healthy amount of first-team snaps.”  How’s he responding?

“Taylor ripped off a few highlight-reel carries up the middle. He took one for a long gain early in the workout, then later in practice, darn near bulldozed his way over safety Tavon Wilson, who at 6 feet and 208 pounds isn’t exactly a small defensive back. Taylor’s bruising style has been evident across the first two contact practices and he will add a different element to the Colts’ rushing attack.”

Moreover, Reich labeled him a “physically dominant athlete,” while OC Nick Sirianni gushed: “I look at him and say, ‘I would hate to have to tackle this guy all game long.’

Pants? Fully off.

For the visual learners, finish yourself off with this image:

Colts Rookie Jonathan Taylor is Insanely Jacked

Nope, not a defensive end. That’s Taylor, and this thing, at 5’10, 226 lbs, somehow runs a 4.39 forty — the fastest among 2020 RBs and 10th-fastest weight-adjusted speed score by a running back all-time (99th percentile)

Ultimately, Taylor’s quick rise and impending takeover shouldn’t be surprising. As covered in our draft day breakdown, he’s the most prolific college back in recent memory, perhaps ever:

College backs don’t get more productive than Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor. Literally, Taylor’s average of 2,194 scrimmage yards per season shattered the NCAA RB record… by over 300 yards. He’s the only RB to accumulate over 6,000 rushing yards in only three years, and was just 23 freshman-yards shy of three straight 2,000 yard seasons.

He’s also underrated as a pass-catcher, gaining the second-most yards per route run (2.3) while being fed targets on 33% of the routes he ran. Similar to fellow-Badger Melvin Gordon, a lack of receiving usage shouldn’t indicate a lack of receiving ability, as Gordon ranks 8th in total RB receptions since 2016 (191), hauling in passes from…

None other than Philip Rivers, Taylor’s current QB. Sure, Hines is the primary third-down back. Any ancillary receptions that Taylor, who can glide downfield in the screen game, tallies will just be gravy to his insane rushing totals.

Speaking of Taylor’s rushing upside: two months ago, notorious ranking guru Pat Fizmaurice (second in FantasyPros’ 2019 contest) joined the the Fantasy Fullback Dive. When asked for a Bold Prediction, Fitzmaurice raved: Jonathan Taylor will lead the league in rushing as a rookie.

Jonathan Taylor Will Leave Marlon Mack in the 2020 Fantasy Football Dust

A rushing crown seemed a bit over the top at the time. In hindsight, this could realistically happen given the hot hand outlook in Indy. At minimum, Taylor is a stone-cold lock to surpass his 700.5 rushing prop bet.

Simply put: Taylor is an otherworldly runner, behind an elite line. As Ray Garvin eloquently states: “We must not overthink Mr. Jonathan Taylor.”

Ideally, you follow our “Bellcow or Bust” strategy for the early rounds, snagging two of the Top-14 clear RB1s. This way, Taylor is your RB3/Flex, allowing for some “catch up” time should he need it (he won’t). The RB dropoff after Rounds 1 & 2 is steep, and Taylor is one of the few, if last, remaining “League-Winning” candidates in this range.

Pass on a broken-down Todd Gurley, hideous Leonard Fournette, or uncertain Melvin Gordon, and snare Taylor, who’s now up to 26 overall and RB15 in my latest 2020 Fantasy Football Big Board. There’s plenty of WR depth in Rounds 4-7 to make up for an RB-RB-RB start, especially when your No.3 may just outrush and outscore every back in the league.

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