NFL defenses became familiar with – and terrified of – Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor very quickly.
Indy’s workhorse back first hit the NFL field by rushing for the third most yards in the league as a rookie. He followed his incredible first season up with an All-Pro campaign that saw him lead the NFL in multiple major rushing categories. At just 23 years old, Taylor is in line for a promising football career and is the chalk to become the league’s next Offensive Player of the Year (OPOY).
Jonathan Taylor Odds to Win NFL OPOY
Taylor — priced at +1000 at all top Indiana sportsbooks — sits above all of his peers in the hunt for the league’s premier offensive award. However, with how proficient offenses are nowadays, there are just too many talented candidates deserving of the honor.
|2022 NFL OPOY Odds||DraftKings||FanDuel||BetMGM|
|Jonathan Taylor, IND||+1000||+1000||+1000|
|Cooper Kupp, LAR||+1200||+1400||+1200|
|Justin Jefferson, MIN||+1500||+1400||+1200|
|Deebo Samuel, SF||+1000||+2000||+1200|
|Derrick Henry, TEN||+1400||+1600||+1600|
|Davante Adams, LV||+1800||+2000||+2000|
|Lamar Jackson, BAL||+2200||+1600||+2000|
Closely trailing the chalk is Los Angeles Rams wide receiver and reigning OPOY Cooper Kupp (+1200 to +1400). Minnesota Vikings’ stud wideout Justin Jefferson (+1200 to +1500) and San Francisco 49ers’ versatile receiver Deebo Samuel (+1000 to +2000) come in at the No. 2 and No. 3 spots, respectively.
Tennessee Titans running back and 2020 OPOY Derrick Henry (+1400 to +1600) rounds out the top five, and Las Vegas star pass catcher Davante Adams (+1800 to +2000) has the sixth shortest odds to win the award for the first time.
Because offensive talent in the NFL goes so deep, Taylor’s path to capturing the gold isn’t so simple. Yet, he’s the favorite for a reason. Let’s break down the young stud’s odds to win 2022 OPOY.
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Taylor Was Head and Shoulders Above All RBs in 2021
It’s no surprise that Taylor has the shortest odds to beat out all players for OPOY. He was arguably the most dominant player at his position last season, and his 2022 outlook suggests that he might be even greater.
Taylor and the Colts started the 2021 season a bit slow. The First Team All-Pro running back recorded just one game with 65-plus rushing yards through Week 5, and the team had a 1-4 record. Then a star was born. Taylor logged nine 100 rushing-yard performances in the final 12 games, and Indianapolis went 8-4.
OPOY voters noticed the 23-year-old’s value in his team’s ability to win games. The young bell cow averaged 138.8 rushing yards per contest and 6.0 yards per carry in wins, compared to 70.3 yards and 4.5 yards per carry in losses.
The NFL’s unofficial rushing triple crown winner topped all rushers by a wide margin in carries (332), yards (1,811), and touchdowns (18). His 5.5 yards per carry was tied for the highest among players with at least 140 carries. The Wisconsin product also dabbled a bit in the receiving game with 40 catches, 360 yards, and two touchdowns.
The Colts’ tried-and-true running back gained 107 first downs — 42 more than the next highest total — and was the most efficient first-down rusher (32.2%) among all running backs. But Taylor wasn’t just reliable for moving the chains. He was also a big play waiting to happen. He led the league in 20- and 40-yard plays, and ran for the longest rushing play (83 yards) in the entire 2021 season.
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Taylor Positioned for OPOY-Worthy 2022 Campaign
Entering just his third NFL season, Taylor is young, fresh, and talented enough to be able to handle a massive workload. He’s going to get so many touches that even in forgettable performances, he’ll still likely exceed double-digit yards. Backed by one of the best offensive lines in football, the explosive back has the makeup to reach incredibly new heights under a head coach that embraces the “establish the run” policy.
Veteran quarterback Matt Ryan is Indy’s new signal caller, and while many Taylor backers might be worried that Ryan’s presence will reduce the running back’s backfield usage, it’s possible that the new quarterback could actually help Taylor.
Defenses will have to respect Ryan as a passer all around the field. And while he isn’t an MVP-caliber quarterback anymore, he’s still serviceable enough that linebackers won’t be able to crowd the box, which should give Taylor some breathing room to run through the middle.
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Taylor Fumbles 2021 OPOY at Season Goal Line
While Kupp was leading the OPOY race for most of last year, Taylor was slowly creeping in. After shredding defenses in the latter half of the season, Taylor finally caught up to the Rams’ star receiver with one game left apiece.
FanDuel had the two men both priced at -110 entering the regular season finale. In his Week 18 matchup against San Francisco, Kupp caught all seven of his balls for 118 yards and one touchdown and even added one rush for 18 yards. Meanwhile, Taylor ran for 77 yards in a loss against the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars. Indianapolis missed out on the playoffs, and Taylor missed out on the award.
AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack