The staff members at Footballguys are full of opinions. In a Faceoff, we allow two members to voice their opinions on a specific player. One picked the high side, and the other took the low side.
High Side by Ryan Hester
Potential arguments against Taylor are his lack of passing prowess and his team's run-first mentality. While both are a factor and can't be ignored, a pro-Taylor argument must be considered in the context of his dirt-cheap ADP. At QB20, Taylor is still a great value even when those points are conceded.
Last season, in his first as a starter, Taylor finished as QB17. While not fantasy starter status, it should be considered that Taylor missed two games and was without his top receiver for three full games and large chunks of three others. Sammy Watkins missed Weeks 4, 5, and 7 and played fewer than 40 snaps in Weeks 3, 6, and 9. Watkins closed the season with at least 81 yards in each of his last six games, showing that he and Taylor built rapport and the offense opened up.
Taylor's rushing ability also mitigates the risk presented by his team's offensive philosophy. Taylor was second among quarterbacks in rushing yards last season, finishing just 68 yards behind Cam Newton despite playing two fewer games. Taylor was first among quarterbacks in rushing yards per game (40.6 to Newton's 39.8). Taylor got his yards in nice chunks too, as he was second in the NFL among all players with at least six carries per game – regardless of position – in yards per carry. Taylor picked up 5.5 yards per tote.
His rushing ability also provides a high ceiling too, if his passing ability and volume increase. At the very least, Taylor offers "stream-ability." He can be played in positive matchups and will very likely accumulate a few top-12 weeks. If you're a late-round quarterback drafter, Taylor offers a nice combination of floor and ceiling. And in short bench leagues, he could always be exchanged for other positive matchups on the waiver wire with little risk of being scooped up by another owner before you might need him again. At QB20, what else can owners ask for?
Low Side by Will Grant
Tyrod Taylor was a pleasant surprise last season, landing the starting job for the Bills after doing virtually nothing in Baltimore for the previous four seasons. He had some great games early in the season, and finished reasonably well given his complete lack of talent at WR after Sammy Watkins. While some people expect a lot more out of Taylor this year, the fact that not much has changed should make you pump the brakes a bit. LeSean McCoy is their top running back, and will not see much action in the pre-season, but he didn't exactly blow up the world with just three 100-yard rushing games and three rushing touchdowns last season. The WR position is still a giant question mark after Watkins, making me ask the question what has really changed?
Taylor's big upside is his rushing, and he had 568 yards and four touchdowns on the ground last season. That's pretty solid numbers, and the come on a consistent basis which is also good. However, the roller coaster passing game makes Taylor a better daily fantasy play than a guy you can count on from week to week. When Taylor added 43 yards and a rushing TD to his Week 2 performance against the Patriots (277 passing yards, three touchdowns and three picks), you had a nice, unexpected bounce. However, when Taylor had 76 rushing yards and a touchdown just two weeks later, his 109 passing yards and single passing score really held him down. Rushing yards are a great lift for quarterbacks like Cam Newton or Russell Wilson because they supplement great passing numbers. In Taylor's case, the rushing yards often replace the passing numbers, limiting his upside and making him a questionable choice to lead your fantasy team.
Lack of consistent passing is really why you need to question having Taylor in your lineup. Yes, he had three passing touchdowns in four of his 14 games last season, but he also six games with only one passing touchdown and three games without one, including his final two of the season. When your quarterback puts up 200 yards passing in a game and doesn't have a passing touchdown, you probably lose. Even if he chips in 50 yards on the ground. Yes, Taylor stays clean with only six interceptions compared with 20 passing touchdowns last year, but unless your league severely penalizes a quarterback for throwing a pick, this doesn't help much. The WR corps is still a giant question mark, and unless someone emerges as a legitimate No. 2 for Watkins, Taylor's going to struggle again this season.
Taylor might be a nice value play, since he's going somewhere around QB19 in redraft leagues at this point. But even if he improves and stays healthy the entire season, I don't see him boosting his numbers high enough to crack the top 12. That leaves him a solid backup, or possibly a part of a QBBC in most season-long leagues. His lack of consistency does help him in daily fantasy football lineups though, so keep that in mind if you are a DFS player.