The Indianapolis Colts invested heavily in their offense on day two of the 2020 NFL Draft, selecting wide receiver Michael Pittman and running back Jonathan Taylor in the second round. Pittman joins a receiver corps that needed some depth behind T.Y. Hilton, while Taylor joins a backfield that already had some solid depth.
The addition of Taylor has raised questions about who will start and what it will mean for fantasy football. Marlon Mack led the backfield last season, rushing 247 times for 1,091 yards and eight touchdowns. Mack also caught 14 of 17 targets, but Nyheim Hines handled much of the passing work, catching 44 of 58 targets.
Colts head coach Frank Reich chatted with the media on Monday, and was asked if Mack should have an edge in retaining the starting running back position over Taylor.
“There’s definitely inherent respect for the starter returning. And that’s the way I see this….I see it as a 1-1 (punch). The way the league has gone and the way role playing has been elevated in our league, it’s made it prominent. We used to say in San Diego that when we had Danny Woodhead. He was not our starter, he was our ‘role playing’ starter. He played such a significant role. He had 80 catches in a year. You look at a guy like Nyehim Hines. We talk about Marlon and Jonathan, but what about Nyheim? He’s such a good third-down back that he’ll play a prominent (role). In some ways, (Hines) is a starter. He’s a role-playing starter.”
While the line about inherent respect for the returning starter would seem to give Mack the edge, the overall comment suggests this could turn into a hot hand type of situation. For fantasy purposes, Hines should retain some flex value in PPR leagues, but likely has little standard value outside of larger leagues.
Taylor is the back to draft in dynasty leagues and deeper keeper leagues. For re-draft and lighter keeper leagues, Mack seems to be the top choice for now. You likely won’t be able to land both Mack and Taylor unless you are prepared to over-invest in that handcuff. Look for Mack to go first in most leagues, but Taylor could be drafted within a round or two of him.