It’s clear that the NFL draft is definitely keeping dynasty owners on their toes. A lot of players got picked by teams that sent shockwaves through the NFL as well as fantasy leagues everywhere. In the second round, the Indianapolis Colts took WR Michael Pittman Jr. with their first pick and stud RB Jonathan Taylor with their second pick. Both pieces should add some flash to the offense, but let’s dive deeper into Jonathan Taylor’s dynasty value for 2020 now that he has a home.
Jonathan Taylor’s Dynasty Value Following the 2020 NFL Draft
Rookie Pick 1.01: Taylor vs CEH
Earlier this offseason I wrote an article about Taylor’s skills as a runner and the results of his terrific combine showing, leading him to be my 1.01 in rookie drafts prior to the draft. As the draft approached, my mind didn’t change at all. He was still the best runner in the class in my own opinion, and I thought that he should still be taken first in rookie drafts without hesitation.
According to PFN’s Kent Lee Platte (@mathbomb), Jonathan Taylor was given a RAS grade of 9.53, second amongst all graded running backs, only behind Ty’Son Williams from BYU. Taylor has an elite speed grade, great explosion grade, and good agility grade. He’s the perfect all-around back that can handle all three downs worth of work when given the chance. For comparison, Clyde Edwards-Helaire was given a 5.45 RAS grade, RB28 overall in the class.
However, once Clyde Edwards-Helaire was taken by the Kansas City Chiefs at the very end of Round 1, everyone immediately started calling him the clear cut 1.01 pick in rookie drafts. Being that Taylor was still undrafted, I started wondering if he could land somewhere to keep the 1.01 crown for himself. Needless to say, going to the Colts definitely helped his value stay high. If anything, you could argue that it helps him more than going to the Chiefs helped CEH. Both will have some competition to get the starting role, but I think Taylor can beat out Marlon Mack and become the workhorse behind that terrific offensive line in Indianapolis.
Marlon Mack: Taylor’s competition in Indianapolis
Marlon Mack has been with the Colts for three years but hasn’t really done much with the opportunity as the starting running back. He put up his best season in 2019, playing 14 games, rushing for 1,091 yards and 8 TDs, and catching 14 passes for only 82 yards. His stats are pretty middle of the road. He’s also missed games each season, which has hurt his overall output and frustrated his fantasy owners.
Mack finished his 2019 season with 181.3 PPR fantasy points, putting him at RB22 overall. That’s not great. According to his OSM (Offensive Share Metric) results, his overall grade for last year was 9.76 which puts him at RB43, also not great. This is exactly what fantasy players have seen with Mack over the years. He’s just not someone you’re excited about starting, let alone drafting.
Speaking of drafting, Mack’s ADP has been pretty flat over the last year. Per DLF’s ADP data, in April 2019 he was going at 43 overall. As of last month, he’s going at 56 overall, so he’s fallen back about a full round even after putting up his best season yet. It’s hard to imagine the Colts drafting a stud running back will do anything but kill whatever value Mack had left too.
If you own Mack, you have to hold him, but it’s likely that you won’t enjoy it. You have to wait and see how the off-season plays out, but it’s very likely that his value will never be higher than it was last week, unfortunately.
Looking ahead: Jonathan Taylor’s dynasty value in 2020 and beyond
Okay, so the real question here is: what do we think Taylor will do with his new opportunity? It’s no secret that Indianapolis has one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, so Taylor should have some great blocking to work behind. After running the fastest 40-yard dash time at the combine, it’s very likely that he will be able to break off some long runs once he hits the holes that line will provide.
Outside of the talent, which was already the best in the class, now he gets a second-round draft capital and terrific landing spot added to his fantasy resume. All signs point to him being the lead back in Indianapolis sooner than later, given the lack of true competition. If Philip Rivers and his receivers can do what they’re expected to do, there should be plenty of scoring opportunities to boot.
Don’t forget, Philip Rivers loved passing to his running back in Los Angeles when he played with Austin Ekeler in 2019. Taylor caught 26 passes at Wisconsin last year, so he also has the ability to be a PPR machine for fantasy. If things fall the right way he could easily become the next top-tier RB1, alongside players like Alvin Kamara, Ezekiel Elliott, and Dalvin Cook. You can’t go wrong with guys like that.
All of this makes me feel even more certain that Taylor would be a terrific pick at 1.01 in 1QB leagues. However, if others picking ahead of you in your leagues like CEH going to the Chiefs, or Swift going to the Lions, or any of the terrific receivers taken in this draft, it’s very possible that owners of fantasy rookie picks 2, 3, or 4 could be gifted the best running back in the class at a pretty deep discount.
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Andrew Hall is a writer for PFN covering Fantasy Football. You can follow him on Twitter: @AndrewHallFF.