Coach Frank Reich envisions Mack and Jonathan Taylor as a "one-two punch" in the backfield, Mike Wells of ESPN.com reports. Taylor's combination of talent and draft capital makes him the favorite to emerge with the lead role sooner than later, though custom dictates that it'll be Mack getting the first snap with the starting offense once the Colts are able to practice. Reich believes the two backs will complement each other, pointing to Mack's vision, acceleration and comfort level running outside zone, while Taylor earns praise for his size, speed and explosiveness. The idea of splitting work isn't unreasonable, but it becomes a real crunch with passing-down specialist Nyheim Hines also getting regular snaps. While the Colts seemingly still have a plan for Mack in the final year of his rookie contract, it won't come as any surprise if his role is eventually minimized.
Mack faces increased competition for playing time in the Indianapolis backfield after the Colts took Jonathan Taylor with the 41st pick in the NFL Draft. "Marlon is a good kid. He's a special teammate. He knows that Taylor is going to make us better and that he's going to make Marlon better," GM Chris Ballard told The Fan 1070 am Indianapolis. Ballard said that he texted Mack about the pick and Mack responded with "Let's go. Let's go win." Mack is entering the final season of his rookie contract and the team hadn't been talking to him about a contract extension, so this could be his last year with the Colts. Mack's work on the ground has been solid, but he's missed multiple games in each of his three seasons, and his Pro Football Focus grades for pass blocking and receiving have consistently been poor. The Colts haven't indicated yet how the workload in the backfield will be divided, but Mack no longer can be seen as true lead ball carrier when healthy.
Colts owner Jim Irsay denied reports about Mack discussing a contract extension with the team, Mike Chappell of Fox 59 News Indianapolis reports. This doesn't mean an extension isn't in play, but it does suggest the Colts have bigger offseason priorities, including a potential quarterback upgrade and convincing left tackle Anthony Castonzo not to retire. Mack is entering the final season of his rookie contract, after averaging 75.7 and 77.9 rushing yards per game the past two years. His work on the ground has been solid, but he's missed multiple games in each of his three seasons, and his PFF grades for pass blocking and receiving have consistently been poor. The Indianapolis offense could benefit from adding a running back with a more balanced skill set, rather than rotating between Mack and passing-down specialist Nyheim Hines. It remains to seen if the Colts actually take that step, as there is a lot to be said for deploying a dirt-cheap rotation instead of using significant cap space or an early draft pick on the position.
Mack rushed 15 times for 77 yards and two touchdowns in Sunday's 38-20 loss to Jacksonville. Mack was the lone bright spot for the Colts from a fantasy perspective, providing the only two offensive touchdowns the team could muster against the Jaguars' defense. The 23-year-old was able to eclipse the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the first time in his career, proving that last year's modest breakout (908 yards and nine touchdowns over 12 games) was no fluke. He didn't provide much in terms of receiving (14 receptions for 82 yards ), ceding most of that work to Nyheim Hines. Mack is in line to remain Indianapolis' early down back next season -- although his $735,000 salary could create a potential holdout -- a situation that makes him an excellent fantasy option in non-PPR formats.
Mack ran for 95 yards on 16 carries and added six yards on two catches during Sunday's 38-6 win over the Panthers. Mack had a rough time of it in Weeks 14 and 15, but he rebounded in a big way against Carolina's poor run defense. He plunged for a two-yard touchdown in the second quarter and helped run out the game with a 30-yard rumble in the fourth quarter. Mack has run hot and cold this season, but he has an opportunity to end the season on a high note. The Colts wrap up versus the Jaguars on Sunday, against whom Mack ran for 109 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries in Week 11. His 7.8 yards per carry during that game stands as Mack's highest since Week 6 of the 2017 season.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|3||09/27||New York Jets||9||14.50|
|11||11/22||Green Bay Packers||26||21.22|
|14||12/13||@Las Vegas Raiders||0.00|
|3 Year Avg||178||786||7||17||137||1||139|