The Standoff Has Ended
What started as a normal Saturday for fantasy managers turned into a massive, pivoting, drama-filled day. The Jonathan Taylor saga ends not with a trade but a three-year, $42 million contract extension. Taylor will remain an Indianapolis Colt and make his season debut this Sunday against the Titans. This ends a standoff between Taylor and the Colts’ front office, with both sides claiming victory. But make no mistake about it: this was a major win for Taylor and the running back position.
The standoff started this summer as Taylor demanded (and deserved) a new contract. These sorts of demands happen all the time. Saquon Barkley and Austin Ekeler both had tense moments with their teams, followed by improved contracts. But the Taylor drama felt – and was – different. Colts owner Jim Irsay and management allowed Taylor to seek a trade, but set the bar so high that no deal could be made, despite numerous teams showing interest. The relationship felt unfixable, angering Colts fans and fantasy managers alike.
A Shifting ADP
Taylor’s ADP saw rapid swings during draft season. After being selected around the 1-2 turn in early drafts, Taylor’s ADP settled into the 2nd round, followed by a slow descent which reached a low point in early September. Amazingly, there are fantasy managers with 7th- and 8th-round Jonathan Taylor shares.
The Colts placed Taylor on the PUP list to begin the season, with Taylor claiming he was healthy. Taylor and his rosterers found themselves in fantasy purgatory. The Colts had mixed success through the season’s first month, splitting their games for a 2-2 record, but the rushing attack has been strong. The Colts have averaged 139 yards per game on the ground. Zack Moss, an afterthought in the preseason, played very well. He averaged 17.4 PPG in Weeks 2 through 4 (he sat out Week 1). While some Taylor fantasy managers were frustrated with Moss’ success, others had a sense of hope that with the same role and volume, Taylor was a league winner. It all depended on his working out a deal with the Colts.
Fantasy managers’ hopes were rewarded as Taylor inked the first $10 million-plus deal for a running back since Nick Chubb‘s in 2021.
Where To Rank Him
Taylor, the RB1 overall in 2021, will return to weekly top-10 production immediately, with the potential for more – a lot more. After playing with pocket passers like Carson Wentz, Philip Rivers, and Matt Ryan, Taylor will now play next to a dynamic rushing threat in rookie QB Anthony Richardson. There is potential for massive running lanes as defenses have to account for both Richardson and Taylor. Lesser RBs have had fantasy success next to dual-threat QBs. In 2022, Miles Sanders finished as RB15 attached to Jalen Hurts, and in 2019, Mark Ingram finished as RB11 alongside Lamar Jackson.
Health permitting, Christian McCaffrey should finish as the RB1 overall on the season. On a weekly basis, though, Taylor will challenge other top backs like Tony Pollard and Bijan Robinson, as well as the red-hot Devon Achane. Objectively, it is difficult not to rank Taylor as a weekly RB1. With Richardson behind center, Taylor will not be a high-volume receiver, but that was never the focal point of his game (he has logged 104 career receptions).
Taylor returns to the top-10 overall for dynasty managers in non-superflex. The new contract insulates his long-term value. At PlayerProfiler, Taylor will trail only Robinson and McCaffrey among RBs. The shakiness of the RBs behind Taylor makes him an even more valuable dynasty asset.
Running Backs Matter
Taylor’s mega deal could have a cascading effect on the running back position as a whole. Pollard, Barkley, and Josh Jacobs are all on one-year deals. While each of them is older than Taylor, the going rate for running back contracts is set to change and the potential investment teams make will also need to shift. Players like Travis Etienne, Breece Hall, and PlayerProfiler’s Dynasty RB1 overall, Bijan Robinson, will all benefit from Taylor’s deal in the coming years. Some front offices in the NFL are not very happy with Indianapolis right now.
Maybe running backs do matter? Jonathan Taylor certainly does.