Colts running back Jonathan Taylor certainly turned some heads in his 2020 rookie campaign. He finished the year 3rd in rushing yards with 1,169, trailing only Derrick Henry and Dalvin Cook. Heading into 2021, Taylor was facing much higher expectations and is primed to become a star back in the league. In the 10-team dynasty league that I’m in, I was ecstatic to see Taylor’s name still on the board at pick #7. Knowing he will be the lead running back in Indianapolis for years to come, I didn’t hesitate to draft him.
Through two games, however, he hasn’t gotten off to the start that he and his fantasy owners had hoped for. Taylor has rushed for 107 yards on just 3.3 yards per carry and has yet to find the end zone. He’s caught 7 of his 8 targets for 62 yards, 60 of those coming in the home opener against Seattle. For those of you Taylor owners that are worried, I’m here to tell you to relax. Here’s why:
Tough early matchups
The Colts’ first two opponents, the Seahawks and Rams, both finished top-5 against the run in 2020. To make matters worse, the Colts trailed the majority of their first two games, limiting their ability to run the ball as much as they would like. Taylor will see much less formidable run defenses and will have a higher volume of carries in the coming weeks. On top of that, he’s in a division with Houston and Jacksonville, two of the three worst run defenses a season ago. Expect Taylor to take advantage of some easier matchups coming up and put together some 100-plus yard performances.
Red Zone struggles
The Colts have been one of the worst red-zone offenses, scoring touchdowns on just 37.5% of their red-zone trips. That’s good for 28th in the NFL. Last week against the Rams, the Colts had two first-half drives inside the five in which they scored 0 total points, thanks to a Carson Wentz interception and a turnover on downs. On the bright side for Jonathan Taylor fantasy owners, he’s had his fair share of red zone touches. While he hasn’t scored a touchdown, he ranks 3rd in the NFL with 11 carries inside the 20. If Frank Reich continues to feed Taylor in the red zone, frowns will begin to turn upside down for his fantasy owners.
Slow start in 2020
Taylor had a similarly slow start in 2020, with just 22 rushing yards on 9 carries at Jacksonville in Week 1. Through his first 9 games in 2020, Taylor had 113 carries for 428 yards, a modest 3.8 average. In his last 7 games, on the other hand, he rushed for 741 yards on 119 carries, a 6.2 average. This included a 253-yard, 2-touchdown performance in Week 17 against the Jags.
He also found the end zone more consistently in the second half of the season. 8 of his 12 total touchdowns came in the months of December and January. If this trend continues in 2021, Jonathan Taylor will be hitting his peak at the most important time for your fantasy team.
Don’t jump to conclusions
If you’re already thinking about trading Jonathan Taylor, I advise you to stay patient. Remember, we’re only on Week 3. There’s a long way to go, and with easier matchups coming up, a high volume of red-zone touches, and his brief history of ending the year strong, Taylor still has the potential to end the season as one of the best running backs in the league.