2020 NFL Draft: Colts trade up to land potential Fantasy star Jonathan Taylor

Jonathan Taylor was my favorite running back in the 2020 class before the draft and it wasn’t particularly close. The Colts may not have liked him quite that much, but they did like him enough to trade up to No. 41 overall to select him, him after taking receiver Michael Pittman earlier in the round. This was a shocking move since the Colts already employed both Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines and it may not portend good things for either. 

As for Taylor, he’s a 21-year-old back who ran for 6,174 yards and 50 touchdowns in three seasons at Wisconsin. On film, Taylor is a bad man, running through arm tackles with violence and running away from defensive backs when he finds a big hole. He ran a 4.39 40-yard dash at 226 pounds at the Combine, as if you needed any other reason to love him.

Taylor has potential flaws, and they justify varying levels of concern. He fumbled way too often and he didn’t show well in limited time in pass protection. Those are things he has to improve to reach his ultimate Fantasy ceiling. Some people are also concerned about his pass-catching ability (I’m not), as well as his workload at Wisconsin. 

The workload point is actually a plus in my eyes. Taylor has shown the ability over multiple seasons to handle 300 touches. That’s not something we could say about Josh Jacobs last year or D’Andre Swift this year. He can handle the workload; the question now is how long he has to wait for it.

Mack could very well open the year as the starter, though their talent and pedigree is not comparable. My expectation is that even if Mack does start the season as the 1A, he’ll quickly lose early down work to Taylor. Red zone work could be more even due to Taylor’s ball security reputation, but he runs too well to get shut out of that area. Work in the passing game is likely to be dominated by Hines, but that’s okay.

The Colts new quarterback, Philip Rivers, once played with a Wisconsin running back who had to share workload, and that worked out pretty well for Melvin Gordon after a rocky rookie year. It will be hard to get Taylor inside the top 30 running backs in redraft as long as Mack and Hines are both involved, and I couldn’t take him before the fifth round as a result. If Mack were cut or traded, Taylor would instantly become a second round pick and the best back in this class for 2020.

Taylor’s Dynasty ceiling is still elite and he’s worth a top-three pick in rookie-only drafts. In Dynasty startups, I’d view Taylor as a borderline top-12 back worth a selection in the first three rounds. This is a good system he’s found himself in and it shouldn’t surprise anyone if he earns 300-plus touches and produces top-five results by 2021.

Mack becomes a mid-round pick as a fourth running back. He may be the handcuff to Taylor, but if camp is abbreviated he could conceivably start Week 1 as well. Hines loses a bit of value in PPR because there aren’t many carries available, but he could still be a flex in PPR.

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