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We ask our fantasy running backs to make yards, to make catches, to score a few touchdowns.
Jonathan Taylor wasn’t content to stop there. Sunday at Buffalo, he made history.
It’s seldom that one player decides fantasy matchups all by himself, but Taylor was a one-man show as the Colts shellacked the Bills, 41-15. Taylor rumbled for 185 rushing yards and four touchdowns and added a fifth score on a 23-yard pass.
Add it all up and we’re looking at 204 yards from scrimmage and five end-zone visits for 51.9 fantasy points in half-point per reception formats. It’s the best fantasy score of the year (move over, Justin Herbert, Lamar Jackson, and Derrick Henry), and one of the best of all time.
Taylor delivers one of the best fantasy games ever
Get out the superstar ledger, it’s time for another entry. Taylor’s explosion on Sunday totaled 50.4 fantasy points in a standard scoring league, the ninth time since the merger that the 50-point mark has been eclipsed. Clinton Portis still holds the post-merger record, a 55.4-point onslaught against Kansas City back in 2003 (254 total yards, five touchdowns).
(If you want to include pre-merger AFL action, Billy Cannon would like your attention. He ripped off a 61-point game in December of 1961; five touchdowns and 330 yards from scrimmage. I’m not sure if anyone was playing fantasy back then, though I suspect Andy Behrens may have predicted that outburst in the Chicago Reader.)
Running backs, as you might expect, dominate the historical leaderboard. Alvin Kamara has the No. 2 mark, his six-touchdown jamboree against Minnesota last year. Shaun Alexander, Corey Dillon, Jamaal Charles, Doug Martin, Mike Anderson and Barry Sanders also stand in the Top 10.
Jerry Rice (his five touchdowns scorched Atlanta back in 1990) and Jerry Butler are the lone wideouts to crack the Top 10. Michael Vick’s Monday Night special from 2010 checks in at No. 12; that's the gold standard for quarterbacks.
There’s something about this time of year that leads to history, especially at the running back position; 16 of the top 20 landmark scores have come after Halloween. Alexander and Butler are the only top-20 scorers who recorded a monster game in September. Rice and Marshall Faulk joined the history books in October.
If you want big numbers, wait until the weather chills a bit.
Taylor's performance came against a stout defense
It was shocking to see Taylor log 32 carries in the game; he came into Sunday averaging just 16 attempts per start. For most of the year, pro-Taylor peeps were screaming for head coach Frank Reich to use his featured back more proactively. Just last week, Taylor set a new high for carries in a 2021 start — a modest 21.
No one can say Taylor picked on a weak opponent — Buffalo entered the day with the No. 1 ranked defense in DVOA and the third-ranked DVOA rushing defense. If you prefer more basic defensive stats, Buffalo stood third in both rushing yards allowed per game and yards per carry allowed as the week began. Taylor’s ballistic performance came against a formidable group. Taylor also didn’t pad his stats in garbage time; his final score of the day came late in the third period, and he had just five carries in the fourth quarter.
Tampa Bay will challenge Taylor next week; the Buccaneers have been a top-five rushing defense all year. But after watching Taylor’s three-hour highlight film in upstate New York, we’re not putting anything past him. If any fantasy leagues were to redraft tomorrow, Taylor surely would be the No. 1 pick everywhere.
Pop some popcorn and watch him go.