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Should You Draft Jonathan Taylor in Fantasy Football in 2023?

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In a new development to an ongoing saga, the Indianapolis Colts have granted running back Jonathan Taylor permission to seek a trade, according to a report by ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Monday.

Colts Grant Jonathan Taylor Permission to Seek Trade

This comes after Taylor requested a trade in a July meeting with Colts owner Jim Irsay. At the time, Irsay publicly denied the trade request. However, with the season approaching, Irsay has reportedly shifted his stance and is now open to trading Taylor.

The 24-year-old Taylor has been dissatisfied over his contract situation and has not participated in training camp activities while remaining on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.

Background of Taylor’s Contract Dispute

Taylor is entering the final year of his rookie contract, which will pay him $4.3 million this season. After an All-Pro 2021 season where he led the NFL in rushing yards, Taylor sought a lucrative long-term extension this offseason.

However, the Colts showed no interest in negotiating an extension, despite Taylor far exceeding his rookie deal. This led to Taylor reporting to training camp unhappy and requesting a trade.

Jonathan Taylor Career Stats:

SeasonGames PlayedRushing AttemptsRushing YardsRushing TDsReceptionsReceiving YardsReceiving TDsTotal TDs

The table shows Taylor’s progression from his rookie season in 2020 through the injury-shortened 2022 season. His monster 2021 campaign earned him First Team All-Pro honors as he led the NFL in rushing yards, rushing TDs, and total TDs. However, his numbers dipped this past season as he dealt with ankle issues that caused him to miss 6 games. Over his 3 years, Taylor has established himself as a dynamic rusher and receiver when healthy. The contract dispute and injury history make him a risky fantasy asset entering 2023 until he can prove the ability to return to prior form.

Lingering Injury Adds Complication

Along with the contract dispute, Taylor arrived at camp still recovering from ankle surgery earlier this year. He failed his physical and was placed on the active/PUP list.

Taylor has yet to practice and there is no clear timeline for when he will return to the field. If traded, Taylor’s new team would need assurance he is fully recovered before finalizing compensation.

The Colts have incentive to claim Taylor’s absence is injury-related rather than contract motivated. But Taylor maintains his ankle is not the primary reason he is missing time. This has added another layer of confusion to an already messy situation.

Potential Trade Compensation

According to the ESPN report, the Colts are seeking a first-round pick or package of picks equivalent to a first-rounder in return for Taylor.

It is unknown if any teams have engaged in trade talks for Taylor. Interested teams must also consider Taylor’s contract demands and injury status before making an offer.

As a reference point, Christian McCaffrey was traded last season for a package of 2nd, 3rd, and 4th round picks. But McCaffrey was not coming off surgery and was healthier than Taylor currently is.

What’s Next for Taylor and the Colts?

Until the ankle fully heals, a trade remains unlikely. The most probable outcome is still Taylor suiting up for the Colts once healthy, despite his displeasure with the team.

But if the relationship between Taylor and the organization continues to deteriorate, Indianapolis may become more motivated to deal him and acquire assets while they still can.

If traded, the Colts would be left extremely thin at running back. Backup Zack Moss is currently injured. Veterans like Kenyan Drake and Jake Funk would be next in line, but neither profiles as a true starter.

This story remains fluid, but it appears Jonathan Taylor’s days in Indianapolis could be numbered. How it all plays out will significantly impact fantasy football drafts and the outlook for both Taylor and the Colts this season.

Fantasy Football Implications

For fantasy managers, Taylor’s situation complicates draft strategy. When healthy, Taylor is an elite fantasy back worthy of a 1st round pick. But with the contract dispute and injury, he now carries more risk.

Until the situation is resolved, fantasy managers should let Taylor slide into the 2nd or 3rd rounds where he presents more upside. Still, it is advisable to back up Taylor with additional RB depth in case he misses time or is traded into a less favorable situation. As alternative to Taylor, look for Ekeler, CMC or Bijan in First round for RB1.

While unlikely to completely bust, fantasy owners who invest high draft capital in Taylor could face a rollercoaster start until his standing with the Colts improves. The ideal scenario remains Taylor returning to practice fully healthy before Week 1 and remaining in Indianapolis. But for now, fantasy drafters must exercise caution when valuing Taylor.

In the event Taylor is traded, it would significantly alter his fantasy outlook depending on where he lands. Some teams would boost his value. But if dealt to a poor offense or timeshare backfield, Taylor’s production could disappoint relative to his early round ADP.

The Taylor saga will remain a huge fantasy football storyline to monitor closely leading up to drafts. His upside is immense, but the risks have mounted. Fantasy managers will need to weigh Taylor’s current challenges before deciding if and when to draft him.

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