Fantasy Football: Does it make sense to buy low on Jonathan Taylor?

by Jake Ellenbogen
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Jonathan Taylor was a phenomenal rookie running back for the Indianapolis Colts last year. This year however, he’s been a fantasy football bust with just 24.1 fantasy points (PPR format) going into week four.

Taylor ran for 1,169 yards last year while adding 299 yards in receiving and finishing with 12 total touchdowns. This year he’s looking at 171 yards and 70 receiving yards with no touchdowns. So, what is the deal?

Well, first off, the Colts have been dealing with some injuries to their offensive line with Quenton Nelson having injury woes to start the season, left tackle Eric Fisher coming back from tearing his Achilles in January and Braden Smith struggling to stay healthy. To make matters worse the Colts don’t have the best offensive line depth in the back end of their roster.

What is happening to Jonathan Taylor this year in fantasy football?

The young Colts running back furthermore has a quarterback that is fighting for dear life to stay on the field despite all of the injuries he is dealing with. So, the question remains…Will Jonathan Taylor get going this season from a fantasy football perspective?

The answer should be a resounding yes. He is off to a slow start but at this point last year he only had 14 more fantasy points through the first three games against the Jaguars, Vikings and Jets. Taylor and the rest of the Colts offense should get going sooner than later and to make matters more interesting they are a desperate 0-3 team that will have to start stringing together some wins.

Taylor went up against a rough Rams defense that held him to a measly 3.4 yards per carry following up his weaker game against the Seahawks in which he averaged 3.3 yards per carry. However, this past week on the road against the Titans, Taylor took fewer carries but averaged 6.4 per carry including his longest run of the season at 23 yards. It was only a 7.2 fantasy point day but it does give you hope moving forward to see him running with that much efficiency.

The road ahead isn’t the toughest

The Colts are going up against the second-worst defense against fantasy running backs this week versus Miami. In addition to that, Baltimore is next on the schedule, a team that is giving up the fifth-most points to running backs. Following that up is Houston who is giving up the 11th-fewest points to running backs but running backs are scoring above their fantasy average at will against them.

The biggest issue with Taylor is his bye week that comes at an inopportune time which is week 14 in the season and could effect your playoff starting lineup depending on your league. The real challenging matchups will likely be the Tampa Buccaneers in week 12 and before that in week seven when the Colts take on the San Francisco 49ers.

Aside from those, every team remaining on the school gives up at least the average points per game to running backs. Taylor doesn’t need a great matchup though once he gets going because the talent he possesses he has proven he can go off on a moments notice.

What would it take to trade for Jonathan Taylor in fantasy football?

It’s not the easiest thing making a trade this early on in the year but if a team is willing to give up on Taylor this early, this is the time to pounce. There have been 25 trades today on Yahoo Fantasy Football that have involved Jonathan Taylor in some capacity. More than half of these trades involved Taylor being part of a package deal. However, with the single one-offs you have:

  1. Titans WR A.J. Brown for Colts RB Jonathan Taylor
  2. Packers WR Davante Adams for Colts RB Jonathan Taylor
  3. Steelers RB Najee Harris for Colts RB Jonathan Taylor
  4. Texans WR Brandin Cooks for Colts RB Jonathan Taylor
  5. Chiefs RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire for Colts RB Jonathan Taylor (twice)
  6. Seahawks WR Tyler Lockett for Colts RB Jonathan Taylor
  7. Raiders TE Darren Waller for Colts RB Jonathan Taylor
  8. Chargers WR Keenan Allen for Colts RB Jonathan Taylor

My personal favorite trade out of the 25 that have already happened would be Jonathan Taylor and Ja’Marr Chase for Justin Jefferson and Clyde Edwards-Helaire. The last thing I would be doing right now is trading away Taylor in general but especially for Edwards-Helaire who has fumbled in back-to-back games.

This, of course, is all assuming you are in a re-draft fantasy football league and not in a dynasty league. The whole strategy would obviously change for dynasty and it becomes much more difficult to buy low due to the fact dynasty players are most likely patient with the majority of their roster anyway. Another deal I very much liked was the straight-up Taylor for Lockett deal because if you do have the depth at wide receiver this is what you should be cashing it in for. Taylor was drafted in the first round in most leagues.

Season projections for Jonathan Taylor

Coming into the year I had Taylor as my number ten running back in PPR format just behind Antonio Gibson and right above Joe Mixon and Aaron Jones. Taylor coming into the year I projected to take 275 carries for 1,320 yards, 13 touchdowns while also adding 240 receiving yards and a receiving touchdown. As of right now, Taylor is projected to end up with 224 carries and 912 rushing yards. He’s not going to end up with that low of a tally unless he gets injured.

I can’t stress it enough. Take advantage during this time if you don’t feel great about your roster. Someone out there is knee-jerk reacting to the first three weeks. You should be able to capitalize on their impatience and pick up a marquee player like Taylor to help you coast through the regular season and into the playoffs.

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