- Jonathan Taylor is currently the favorite to lead the NFL in rushing yards in 2022
- Taylor led the NFL with 1,811 rushing yards in 2021
- See the early 2022 NFL rushing yards leader odds and whether there’s a longshot worth considering
Jonathan Taylor went on an absolute tear in 2021.
The second-year Colts running back overcame a slow start that saw him top 100 yards just once in the first five games to lead the league in rushing. In fact, over his last 12 games, Taylor ran for 1,485 yards, averaging 5.73 a carry, while mixing in 16 touchdowns for good measure.
He wasn’t the lone standout on the ground, however. Derrick Henry was well on his way to a second-straight 2,000-yard season before a foot injury put a stop to that. Henry was so unstoppable, he actually made significant headway in the NFL MVP odds, especially for a non-QB.
The two AFC South backs have been so good lately, that they find themselves neck-and-neck when it comes to predicting then 2022 rushing title.
2022 NFL Rushing Yards Leader Odds
|Jonathan Taylor, IND||+500|
|Derrick Henry, TEN||+600|
|Dalvin Cook, MIN||+850|
|Nick Chubb, CLE||+850|
|Joe Mixon, CIN||+1200|
|Najee Harris, PIT||+1500|
|Antonio Gibson, WAS||+1500|
|Elijah Mitchell, SF||+2500|
|Cam Akers, LAR||+3000|
|Austin Ekeler, LAC||+3000|
|Ezekiel Elliott, DAL||+3000|
|Javonte Williams, DEN||+3000|
|Damien Harris, NE||+3000|
|JK Dobbins, BAL||+4000|
|Christian McCaffrey, CAR||+4000|
|Josh Jacobs, LVR||+4000|
|Devin Singletary, BUF||+5000|
|Alvin Kamara, NO||+5000|
|Miles Sanders, PHI||+6000|
|Rashaad Penny, SEA||+6000|
Odds as of April 7th at Caesars Sportsbook
Taylor, Henry Favored to Top NFL Rushing Yards
Taylor led the NFL in rushing last season, while Henry topped the charts each of the two years prior. Before that it was Ezekiel Elliott, who seems to be hitting the ill-fated second-contract swoon that finds most RBs.
Most 200 rush yard, 2 rush TD games in NFL history
1. Derrick Henry^ 5
2. Jim Brown* 3
2. Barry Sanders* 3
2. LaDainian Tomlinson* 3
*Hall of Famer
— NFL on CBS 🏈 (@NFLonCBS) April 8, 2022
The two have done it different ways. Henry had a three-year build up before back-to-back years on top. Taylor finished third in rushing yards during his rookie season, then added 700 more to that number in his sophomore campaign.
NFL Rushing Yards Leaders and Prior Seasons
|Season||Rushing Leader||Rushing Yards||Previous Season’s Rushing Yards(Rank)|
|2021||Jonathan Taylor||1,811||1,169 (3rd)|
|2020||Derrick Henry||2.027||1.540 (1st)|
|2019||Derrick Henry||1.540||1,059 (7th)|
|2018||Ezekiel Elliott||1,434||983 (10th)|
|2017||Kareem Hunt||1,327||N/A (Rookie)|
Typically the leading rusher in a season is a guy that’s been there before. The outlier on this list is Hill, who paced the league in yards as a rookie. The leader the year before was Elliott with 1,631 in what was also his rookie season.
The only rookie remotely close to the top of the board is Breece Hall. But seeing as he hasn’t even been drafted yet, that would truly be a gut play at +10000.
#Browns current offense:
QB: Deshaun Watson
RB: Nick Chubb
RB: Kareem Hunt
WR: Amari Cooper
WR: Donovan Peoples-Jones
WR: Anthony Schwartz
TE: David Njoku
TE: Harrison Bryant
— JPA Football (@jpafootball) March 28, 2022
2021’s top five included Nick Chubb, Joe Mixon, Najee Harris and Dalvin Cook.
While Chubb is a monster, he splits the backfield with Kareem Hunt. And the eventual presence of Deshaun Watson may mean an emphasized air attack for the Browns. Cook is dynamic, but he has yet to play more than 14 games in a season. If that trend continues, the field gains ground on him. Mixon has three 1,000 yard seasons to his credit.
If you’re avoiding Henry and Taylor, the choice would be Chubb. Even with the unknown of Watson.
Sophomore Running Backs in Rushing Yards Race
The two most interesting names to watch may be second year backs Harris and Javonte Williams.
Both will be playing with new QBs in 2022. The Broncos traded for Russell Wilson, while the Steelers signed Mitch Trubisky.
For Williams, the presence of Wilson may not limit his production as much as fans may think. Starting in 2015, Seahawks running backs accounted for just two 1,000 yard seasons; both by Chris Carson. That, combined with a rotating offensive line, left everything to Wilson. While Denver has talented receivers for him to target, the Broncos could turn to a balanced attack to preserve their new QB.
Runs of 10+ yards in 2021
Jonathan Taylor – 50
Nick Chubb – 41
Dalvin Cook – 36
Elijah Mitchell – 29
Najee Harris – 28
Joe Mixon – 26
Javonte Williams – 25
Ezekiel Elliott – 24
Antonio Gibson – 24
Melvin Gordon – 23
18% of Chubb's runs went 10+ yards, which led the league. pic.twitter.com/6xybEbtgNA
— Nick Penticoff (@NickPenticoff) April 1, 2022
The same is true for Harris, just for different reasons. If Trubisky is starting for Pittsburgh, he’s shown that he can be effective in spurts, but won’t carry an offense on his own. In Trubisky’s four seasons in Chicago, he had two 1,000 yard rushers, as well as a 900 and 800 yard runner.
The concern would be whether or not Pittsburgh can move the ball through the air, or if they’ll mostly be playing from behind. With how the AFC North shapes up offensively, it’s a fair concern.
Jonathan Taylor Rightful Favorite to Top NFL Rushing Yards
Between Taylor and Henry, while there’s no wrong answer, Taylor is the better bet. He has younger legs and had a healthier 2021.
Williams has great value as a longshot, but Nathaniel Hackett does have a history of relying on a committee. Even if there isn’t anyone good enough in the draft or free agency to eat into Williams’ totals. He’s talented but does carry that risk.
For now though, stick with the NFL’s reigning rushing king.
The Pick: Jonathan Taylor (+500)