Fred Taylor's Value

By Zack Cimini

Fred Taylor’s ending reign as a Jaguar became imminent years ago when the Jaguars drafted Maurice Jones Drew. Taylor didn’t leave Jacksonville as quietly as thought initially, instead he pushed forward and stayed a steady back. Steady enough that Jacksonville had quite a tandem going for a few seasons. In fact, in the 2006 and 07 seasons Taylor was the main cog of the Jaguars rushing attack Rushing for over 1,000 yards each season with five touchdowns, and a whopping average over five yards a carry. Than last season saw the complete transformation to Jones-Drew.

Drew took away the 60-40 share Taylor once held, to an almost 70-30 ratio in favor of Drew. The Jaguars basically hinted that they were ready to move on. In the 2008 campaign, Taylor, endured his worst season since being out for practically all of 2001. His yards per carry average also dipped to a career low mark of 3.9. Yet, during this off-season he was signed right away by a team that has been looking for a go to running back, the New England Patriots. This is a combination that could be exactly what Tom Brady and company needed. You can’t name another back in the league that has been as durable and productive as Fred Taylor since 1998.

The questions that arise with Taylor’s new situation are many. How will he adjust playing in a cold weather climate instead of in the friendly year round comfort of Jacksonville? Will the Patriots give Taylor a chance to be the main option or will it be a tandem share? Chances are that it will start off in tandem form with Taylor and Laurence Maroney getting the majority of the carries. We do know that both have had tendencies to be injury prone for long stretches. If Taylor can stay healthy you’d expect him to get at least 12-15 carries a game, and if he can produce well may get 15-18.

New England still has one of the most dangerous threats as a third down back in the league in Kevin Faulk. He has a rapport with Tom Brady that will not eliminate him as a third down option. Plus the Patriots have Sammy Morris and BenJarvus Green-Ellis both who have seen increased roles as starters due to injury last season. One will surely be cut before the regular season, but a crowded backfield will not disappear.

For fantasy value with Fred Taylor you’d have to keep him as no more than a fourth option at running back. He can be a match up starter as he has been in the past with Jacksonville. When on his game Taylor usually runs off streaks of great games. The fact is though he is going into a completely new situation, in a cold weather climate. Even though Taylor’s 33, he still has solid seasons ahead of him due to the fact that Jacksonville never overworked him like most teams do. In the last five years the highest amount of carries he has had was 260 and that was back in 2004.

One area that has always hurt Taylor’s value is his goal line carry effectiveness. In Jacksonville he was never a huge touchdown guy except early in his career. In New England they may opt to use the younger legs in the trenches of Laurence Maroney. All in all, Taylor may be a big name your use to seeing in your fantasy drafts but don’t reach to get him. His value is very low going into the season, but is worth grabbing in the waiver wire late round selection options range.