Jonathan Taylor enters the 2022 season as one of the most valuable assets in dynasty leagues. Given that he’s coming off an overall RB1 finish, Taylor’s dynasty value is at an all-time high. How should dynasty fantasy football managers value Taylor going forward?
Jonathan Taylor’s dynasty profile for 2022
Taylor burst onto the scene as a rookie in 2020. Outside of a three-game stretch where he inexplicably barely played, Taylor showed all the signs of a future elite RB1. He finished his rookie season as the overall RB8 (minimum eight games played), averaging 17 PPR fantasy points per game.
As a sophomore, Taylor became the prince that was promised. He averaged 22.4 ppg and trailed only Derrick Henry in ppg. Since Henry only played eight games, I’m willing to crown Taylor the overall RB1 from 2021.
Taylor led the NFL in a host of categories last season. Among them were carries (332), rushing yards (1,811), yards from scrimmage (2,171), and total touchdowns (20). He also led all running backs in evaded tackles per touch and was top five in yards created per touch. Taylor was an elite dominant force that did it with both volume and efficiency.
Now entering his third NFL season, Taylor is looking to become the first running back to repeat as the overall RB1 since Priest Holmes in 2003. Fantasy managers know to value Taylor highly. But just how high should dynasty managers be valuing Taylor in 2022?
Fantasy projection for Taylor
Although history is working against Taylor finishing as the overall RB1 again, don’t let that impact his status as the most valuable running back in both dynasty and redraft leagues. Even if Taylor isn’t the best running back in fantasy this season, he’s very likely to finish inside the top five.
The Indianapolis Colts have one of the best offensive lines in football. Among running backs with at least 150 carries, Taylor was fourth in yards per carry before contact. But don’t go thinking his offensive line propped him up. Taylor was tied with Javonte Williams for first in yards after contact per carry. Additionally, he led all running backs with at least 150 attempts in yards per carry at 5.5 and is capable of doing it again.
If there’s any knock on Taylor, it’s his team’s reluctance to give him a true three-down role. Taylor is a capable pass catcher, but he averaged only 3 targets per game last season. It’s possible to average 20-24 ppg again without an increase in receiving work, but if Taylor wants to reach Christian McCaffrey-level heights, he’s going to need more receptions. Unfortunately, the Colts’ decision to sign Nyheim Hines to a three-year extension suggests Taylor won’t suddenly be given more work in the passing game.
With that said, Taylor is still one of a select few running backs virtually certain to touch the ball 20 times a game. While I don’t think he finishes as the overall RB1 again, I expect him to average at least 20 ppg. Injury is the only thing that can get in the way of Taylor and another top-five finish.
What is Taylor’s future beyond 2022?
Taylor is in his third NFL season and is just 23 years old. Dynasty managers should never really look more than 2-3 years ahead when it comes to running backs, but Taylor is a unique player.
You should feel confident in at least six more years of dominance from Taylor. There are very few backs with elite talent, volume, and job security. Taylor has all three.
If there’s any concern with Taylor long term, it’s his team’s quarterback situation. 2022 will be Taylor’s third professional season with his third different starting QB.
37-year-old Matt Ryan is undoubtedly not the Colts’ quarterback of the future. He’s another veteran stopgap as they attempt to capitalize on their win-now window. However, if Ryan provides a clear upgrade over Carson Wentz (which he should), he’s not so old that he can’t hang around for another couple of years.
What can fantasy managers expect from Taylor?
Ryan is a stationary pocket passer. He’s not going to take off and run instead of checking it down to his running backs. Although Taylor may not play on most third downs, he can still benefit from first and second-down dump-offs.
Taylor actually had a healthy 10.6% target share last season. The problem — if we want to call it that — is the Colts ran the ball at the fifth-highest rate in the NFL. I question whether this is a problem since the guy getting all the carries is Taylor. But since targets are almost three times more valuable than carries, fantasy managers wouldn’t mind if some of those carries were converted into targets.
So the problem wasn’t with Taylor’s target share — it was with his team’s total pass attempts. If he can improve slightly on his 10% target share and the Colts trust Ryan to throw more than they did Wentz, Taylor could be looking at another target per game. That would go a long way toward Taylor continuing to improve his already sky-high fantasy value.
At worst, Taylor should once again be among the league leaders in carries. He led all running backs in goal-line carries last season, too. This is a player that had an 11-week stretch last season where he finished as an RB1, never scoring below 18 fantasy points during that run. Whether you’re trying to win a title this year or rebuilding, Taylor should be the cornerstone of your dynasty plans in 2022.
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