Buy or Sell Jonathan Taylor as the MVP Frontrunner?

Grant Mitchell

The name on the tip of every NFL fan’s tongue over the last month has been Jonathan Taylor, a second-year running back for the Indianapolis Colts who suddenly looks like a first-team All-Pro player.

Through the first couple of months of football, Derrick Henry looked as if he would be the non-quarterback to challenge the usual faces in the mix for the league’s most coveted individual award; however, with “King” Henry likely out for the rest of the regular season with a foot injury, and a recent explosion from Taylor, it now seems as if he has to carry the burden of challenging the Tom Bradys and Aaron Rodgers of the world.

With six games left on Indy’s schedule, here is a look at what Taylor has to do to become the first running back to win MVP since Adrian Peterson did in 2012.

Leading the League

Partially assisted by Henry’s absence, Taylor currently leads the league in rushing yards (1,112) and touchdowns (13) and is also third in average (5.8), only just behind Lamar Jackson and Nick Chubb. In his last three starts, he has racked up 443 yards and seven touchdowns, four of which came against the Buffalo Bills last weekend.

The Colts had fallen to 3-5 before enjoying a three-game win streak over the recent weeks, as Taylor has effectively run them back into the playoff conversation. They are still two games behind the Tennessee Titans in the AFC South, but they are healthier and have looked the better team as of late.

Taylor’s Impact

Largely due to Taylor’s efforts, the Colts have risen to third in the league in Offensive Rusher Rating, trailing the Cleveland Browns, which needs no explanation, and the Philadelphia Eagles, who run their quarterback more than any team in the league.

For comparison, this puts Indy five spots above the Baltimore Ravens and their terrifying assembly of runners in a system that centers around pounding the rock at every opportunity.

Following a similar trend, the Colts are now also third in Scoreability, a measure of how many points are scored per yard game. Obviously, Taylor’s league-high in touchdowns help boost this metric, but his average and efficiency cannot be undervalued.

There are not many players in the league at any position consistently producing every single snap, like Taylor is, which is why he has become such a fan-favorite for the MVP.

The Competition

As previously mentioned, most of Taylor’s competitors for the award are the big-name gunslingers: Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Kyler Murray, Matthew Stafford, Patrick Mahomes, and Justin Herbert compromise most people’s favorites.

The only other non-QB who could have a chance is Cooper Kupp of the Los Angeles Rams, who is on pace to have one of the most historic receiving seasons in league history. Aside from that, though, he is fighting against precedent.

Taylor’s fortunes will ultimately be decided by how he closes out his season, which features tough matchups against the New England Patriots and Arizona Cardinals, among others — but with injuries setting back Murray, a recent losing stretch for Brady, inconsistency from Stafford, Mahomes, and Rodgers, along with various other factors at play, the Colts’ top produced could walk, or run, away with the honors.