clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Jonathan Taylor vs. Christian McCaffrey: Fantasy football showdown

We go over the fantasy football outlooks of Jonathan Taylor and Christian McCaffrey and pick who we’d draft first.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Running back Jonathan Taylor #28 of the Indianapolis Colts rushes against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field on January 9, 2022 in Jacksonville, Florida. The Jaguars won 26 -11. Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

If you are lucky enough to enter your fantasy football draft with a top pick, you have an important decision on your hands. An early first round pick dictates how the rest of your draft will go, so as Uncle Ben says, “with great power comes great responsibility.”

You need to maximize the value of a top pick, and you will likely be deciding between two running backs (depending on format). If you are graced with the decision between Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor and Carolina Panthers star Christian McCaffrey, here is our advice for who to choose.

Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts

Taylor took a huge step forward in the second year of his career. After an impressive rookie season, he ran the ball 332 times for 1,811 yards and 18 touchdowns. Taylor also brought in 40 receptions on 51 targets for an additional 360 yards and two touchdowns. He is heading into the third season of his career and will do so with his third quarterback. Taylor had Philip Rivers his rookie year and then Carson Wentz last season. Matt Ryan is slated to be the starting quarterback this season and should give Taylor an extra boost in the receiving game. All told, it is easy to see why Taylor is the consensus 1.01 in redraft leagues this season.

Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers

We saw last season that McCaffrey is almost the entirety of the Carolina offense. Their offense was significantly better when he was active than when he wasn’t. The Panthers' offensive output was abysmal without CMC, but McCaffrey has had trouble staying healthy over the last two seasons playing in only 10 of a possible 26 games. A prolonged injury can derail your season before it even starts when you draft a player that high.

McCaffrey had 99 rushes for 442 yards and one touchdown through seven games last year while adding 37 receptions for an additional 343 yards and another touchdown. From his yardage alone, you can see how valuable he is to the offense and how crazy his fantasy football ceiling could be. If he plays a full 17-game season, he would put up some insane numbers.

Fantasy football verdict

McCaffrey’s upside is tempting if he can play a full game season. Believe it or not, though, the 1.01 in Taylor is the safer choice. While the stats from a year ago support Taylor, that isn’t the only factor to consider. When it comes to the offensive lines that the running backs will be playing behind, PFF ranks the Colts much higher than the Panthers. Indianapolis was given the 10th ranked o-line, while Carolina came in at No. 24. There is promise in the Panthers' offensive line with young talent, but the Indy line is a little more proven. This gives the edge to Taylor if you are deciding between the two.