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Fantasy Football: It's time to get hyped about Jonathan Taylor again

Jonathan Taylor #28 of the Indianapolis Colts
Jonathan Taylor was once a hugely hyped fantasy RB — and the hype could be back for 2024. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

Not that long ago, Jonathan Taylor was a destination pick for fantasy football managers, a game-changer, a league winner. He charted as the RB4 in his 2020 rookie year, and he jumped to the RB1 slot for his second season. Taylor was a celebrity by the summer of 2022, splashed on football magazine covers and generally the No. 1 overall pick in most leagues.

Not much has gone right since. An ankle injury kept Taylor down in the 2022 season (11 starts, a mediocre RB36 finish) and his 2023 start was complicated by time on the PUP list and an extended contract holdout.

But let's not lose track of the exciting Taylor comeback that happened last year. Taylor jumped back into our fantasy lives in October, empowered by a contract extension and finally healthy again. He didn't get a start until Week 7, but the explosiveness returned. Over his final eight games, Taylor racked up 704 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. He rumbled for 188 yards and a score against Houston in the season finale.

If you survey the running back board for that 11-game sample, Taylor checks in as the RB15 in half-point PPR scoring. But keep in mind Taylor missed three games with a thumb injury, limiting his cumulative numbers. If you pivot to a points-per-game rank, Taylor jumps to the RB3 slot, trailing just Kyren Williams and Christian McCaffrey.

Blue Horseshoe was a blue-chip stock down the stretch.

Taylor's global ADP is just outside the first round (somewhere in the 13th-overall range) right now, but Yahoo drafters are more bullish. Taylor's current Yahoo ADP tag is 10.5 overall, the fourth running back off the board. I applaud the aggressiveness in the Yahoo market. Hero RB is a preferred build of mine (get that one anchor back, while fortifying the other positions), and Taylor has enough upside to be the best fantasy back in football this fall. I'd love to build my fantasy roster around Taylor and a handful of impact wide receivers.

Taylor certainly has the infrastructure to succeed. The Colts' offensive line carries a top-10 ranking on most clipboards. Indianapolis head coach Shane Steichen is seen as an offensive wizard, someone who knows how to put his impact players in positions to succeed (note the seven Taylor touchdowns over his final six games). And the Indy offense certainly has more upside this season with second-year quarterback Anthony Richardson returning to action.

Gardner Minshew was a respectable backup who kept the Colts competitive in Richardson's absence last season, but his ceiling was always muted. The Colts will likely be in the playoffs if Richardson takes a second-year leap. And we generally want our fantasy backs tied to winning teams, riding with as much leverage as we can.

Taylor should get all the work he can handle; the Colts have ordinary backs behind him on the depth chart (Trey Sermon, Evan Hull). Richardson has the athleticism to steal some of the goal-line work, but given that Taylor will only be sharing a little with his backfield mates, I'm not worried about the QB possibly running in a few scores. With Taylor stepping into his age-25 season, it's a time to be proactive.

If you can land Taylor in the second round of your draft, you've committed highway robbery. But you have my co-sign to consider him anywhere in the second half of the first round.

The timing is right for Taylor to start dominating fantasy football again.