Jonathan Taylor, Jordan Wilkins, or Nyheim Hines: Top Colts RB in Week 10?

With Jonathan Taylor, Jordan Wilkins, and Nyheim Hines, the Colts running back situation is tricky. It isn’t an avoid-at-all-costs situation, but it is tricky. When Marlon Mack was lost for the year in Week 1, it looked as though the second-round rookie, Jonathan Taylor, was poised to put up massive numbers in an offensive system perfect for his skill set. But that hasn’t been the case so far. Who out of the three Colts RB options is the one to start in fantasy football in Week 10?

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Who out of Jonathan Taylor, Jordan Wilkins, or Nyheim Hines will be the top Colts RB in Week 10?

The Tennesse Titans have given up the eighth-most fantasy points to the running back position this season, but their defense has been sporadic. For example, in 0.5 PPR leagues, they gave up around 30 points to the Bengals backfield in Week 8 (Giovani Bernard and Samaje Perine) and around 15 points to the Bears backfield in Week 9 (Ryan Nall and David Montgomery).

So, while there is no consistent trend week to week, we get a sense of the average floor, which would be right around that 15 point mark. However, that doesn’t necessarily help us in Week 10 because the Colts backfield situation is not totally clear. But, let’s look at each player a bit more to get a sense or which Colts RB you should lean on this week.

Jonathan Taylor

At Wisconsin, Jonathan Taylor was just a superb runner of the football with power, speed, vision, and balance like few others coming out of college. His abilities in the passing game were a work in progress, and he had a fumbling history, but he looked like he could win his fantasy owners their leagues once Mack was out of the picture. Clearly, it hasn’t gone that way, and remember, Taylor didn’t have the benefit of a training camp. In fact, Taylor has looked tentative and has failed to create much yardage on his own at the NFL level. He isn’t getting much more than what is blocked.

Nyheim Hines

Opposite of Jonathan Taylor, Nyheim Hines has a very defined role in this offense. He is the pure receiving back, as he was at North Carolina State. Hines is an excellent receiver and route runner that creates mismatches against linebackers and defensive backs alike. Philip Rivers has a long history of throwing to his running backs (think Austin Ekeler last year). He doesn’t like to hold the ball in the pocket long and certainly isn’t a runner, so Rivers often dumps it off to Hines.

Plus, Rivers’ great mind and experience allow the Colts to get Hines into space and into mismatches that Rivers consistently exploits. Hines’ role won’t be changing anytime soon. This is especially true since Indianapolis is a little light at the wide receiver position right now.

Jordan Wilkins

That leaves Jordan Wilkins. Unlike Jonathan Taylor, Wilkins has made plenty of yardage on his own after contact. He doesn’t have the special traits we see in Jonathan Taylor, but Wilkins is highly competitive, fights for yardage, shows good balance and power with more burst and explosion that most give him credit for. Wilkins is also a very capable receiver but hasn’t gotten much work in that area yet this season.

Over the past two games, Wilkins is out-touching Taylor basically at a three to two ratio. In fact, for two straight weeks now, Taylor has been third in snaps played by Colts RBs. Over the past three games, Taylor has gone from playing 59% of Indianapolis’ offensive snaps to 34% and 31% in Week 9.

Since the Colts bye week, Jonathan Taylor has run the ball 17 times, but for just 49 yards. And, he lost a fumble last week that was returned for a touchdown by the Ravens. After that fumble, Taylor received just one carry. He has seen two or fewer targets in five of his seven games. Wilkins has 31 carries over the past two weeks compared to just 17 by Taylor.

Who will lead the backfield during Thursday Night Football?

Thursday night at home against Tennessee’s poor defense is a tasty matchup, and Indianapolis’ upcoming schedule is even tastier. The Colts heralded offensive line continues to play better and better as well. Indianapolis’ excellent defense keeps them in every game, allowing them to stick with their run game while keeping Rivers out of difficult down and distance situations where he too often takes unnecessary risks.

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Again, this is tricky because Jonathan Taylor could get another opportunity and light it up at any point this year. But right now, the Colts don’t have the luxury of worrying about the future or cultivating their rookie running back. They need to win games now. That is doubly true for Thursday night’s huge divisional game against the Titans. Wilkins is the Colts RB that makes that most possible, and considering the state of this position for fantasy right now, might deserve to be in your lineup this week.

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