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Ezekiel Elliott Favored to Lead NFL in Rushing Yards in 2018

SBD Staff Writer

by SBD Staff Writer in NFL Football

Updated Mar 25, 2020 · 2:57 PM PDT

Ezekiel Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys running through arm-tackles
Can Ezekiel Elliott put 2017 behind him and win his second rushing title in three years? Photo by Keith Allison (Flickr) [CC License]
  • Ezekiel Elliott is the favorite to win the 2018 NFL rushing title
  • Rookies have won it the last two years; which 2018 rookie has the best chance?
  • See the odds for all the contenders here

Just one season after receiving heavy scrutiny and a controversial six games of suspension, Ezekiel Elliott returns to Dallas with high expectations. Dez Bryant is gone; the Cowboys continue losing key veterans; and the defense has a ton of question marks.

But Zeke, behind one of the best offensive lines in football, is expected to carry the load and get Dallas back into the playoffs.

Sportsbooks have taken notice of the Cowboys’ reliance on Elliott, as he is the favorite to lead the league in rushing yards this season.

Here’s the full list:

Odds to Lead the NFL in Rushing Yards in 2018

Player Team Odds to lead NFL in Rushing Yards in 2018 2017 Rushing Yards
Ezekiel Elliott Dallas Cowboys +330 983
Le’veon Bell Pittsburgh Steelers +400 1,291
Kareem Hunt Kansas City Chiefs +650 1,327
Leonard Fournette Jacksonville Jaguars +750 1,040
Todd Gurley LA Rams +750 1,302
Jordan Howard Chicago Bears +800 1,122
Dalvin Cook Minnesota Vikings +1200 354
LeSean McCoy Buffalo Bills +1300 1,138
David Johnson Arizona Cardinals +1500 23
Saquon Barkley NY Giants +1500 Rookie

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Player Team Odds to lead NFL in Rushing Yards in 2018 2017 Rushing Yards
Melvin Gordon LA Chargers +1600 1,105
Derrius Guice Washington Redskins +2000 Rookie
Ronald Jones II Tampa Bay Buccaneers +3000 Rookie
Rashaad Penny Seattle Seahawks +3000 Rookie
Alex Collins Baltimore Ravens +3000 973
Lamar Miller Houston Texans +4000 888
Marshawn Lynch Oakland Raiders +4000 891
Royce Freeman Denver Broncos +4000 Rookie
Alvin Kamara New Orleans Saints +4000 728
Derrick Henry Tennessee Titans +4000 744

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Player Team Odds to lead NFL in Rushing Yards in 2018 2017 Rushing Yards
Devonta Freeman Atlanta Falcons +4000 865
Joe Mixon Cinncinati Bengals +4000 626
Jay Ajayi Philadelphia Eagles +4000 465
Marlon Mack Indianapolis Colts +5000 358
Kenyan Drake Miami Dolphins +5500 644
Isaiah Crowell NY Jets +5500 853
Jerick McKinnon San Fransisco 49ers +5500 570
Sony Michel New England Patriots +5500 Rookie
Mark Ingram New Orleans Saints +6500 1,124

2018 NFL Rushing Title Betting Tips

Is Le’Veon Bell a Smart Bet?

Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell has been in a widely reported contract dispute with the team for two years now, so he’ll be looking to prove that he’s the “elite offensive weapon” he deems himself to be.

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But beware another slow start to the season, as he is expected to skip all of training camp. After skipping all of 2017’s camp, Bell totaled just 180 rushing yards on 52 carries (3.46 yards per carry) through the Steelers’ first three games.

Can Kareem Hunt Win Back-to-Back Rushing Titles?

Kareem Hunt looks to be the first running back to successfully defend his rushing title since LaDainian Tomlinson in 2007.

Hunt had a sensational rookie season that saw him rack up 1,327 rushing yards. But his inconsistencies last season is leading many to believe a sophomore slump is coming. Not to mention, the Chiefs will have a new, inexperienced QB at the helm in 2018.

What to Expect from RBs Returning from Injury?

Dalvin Cook comes in with rather short odds for a back who has 354 career rushing yards. But the 41st-overall pick from the 2017 NFL Draft showed very well in his limited action as a rookie. Cook averaged 4.8 YPC, ripped off four runs of over 20 yards, and found the endzone four times in just four games.

Now with Kirk Cousins under center, the sky is the limit for Cook.

Cook averaged 4.8 YPC, ripped off four runs of over 20 yards, and found the endzone four times in just four games

David Johnson will also be returning from a season-ending injury in 2017. Johnson can be a true workhorse, evident by his 373 touches in 2016 – an all-time NFL-high until Le’Veon Bell broke the record last season. But he’ll certainly be held back by Arizona’s quarterback situation.

There are always concerns over Sam Bradford’s durability, and their backup is rookie Josh Rosen. Defenses will be scheming to stop Johnson every week.

Can Another Rookie Win the 2018 Rushing Title?

Fun fact: rookies have won the last two rushing titles. But before Kareem Hunt and Ezekiel Elliott in 2017 and 106, respectively, you have to go all the way back to 1999 for the last rookie to win a rushing title: Edgerrin James.

This year’s offensive rookie phenom is Saquon Barkley, who the New York Giants happily selected second-overall. Few are doubting his talent and physical capabilities, but his penchant as a pass-catcher and an unproven offensive line in front of him will make it tough to lead the pack.

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If not Barkley, fellow rookies Derrius Guice, Ronald Jones II, Rashaad Penny, and Royce Freeman all also have a strong chance of being bell cows for their offenses. And the latter is an extremely intriguing selection at +4000.

Freeman could have a stellar freshman campaign with little competition in the Denver backfield, and a proven nose for the endzone. Two years removed from a knee injury, Freeman is gaining back his explosiveness and could be this year’s Kareem Hunt.

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