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Odds to Lead NFL in Yards From Scrimmage in 2019: Saquon Barkley Favored, McCaffrey Listed at 6-1

NY Giants RB Saquon Barkley eludes Josh Norman of Washington.
NY Giants running back Saquon Barkley led the NFL in yards from scrimmage as a rookie. Photo by KA Sports Photos (flickr)
  • New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley led the NFL in yards from scrimmage last season
  • He has been listed as the favorite (+500) to do it again in 2019
  • Other contenders include players who are expected to shoulder a bigger load this year, like Alvin Kamara and James Conner

One of my favorite futures bets each NFL season is which player will lead the league in yards from scrimmage.  This year, Saquon Barkley of the New York Giants and Christian McCaffrey of the Carolina Panthers are the favorites.

Note that every player on the list below is a running back, save for Atlanta WR Julio Jones.

Who Will Lead the Regular Season in Yards from Scrimmage?

Player (Team) 2018 Stats Odds
Saquon Barkley (Giants) 2,028 yards (1st) +500
Christian McCaffrey (Panthers) 1,965 yards (3rd) +600
Le’Veon Bell (Jets) N/A +650
Todd Gurley (Rams) 1,831 yards (4th) +650
Alvin Kamara (Saints) 1,592 yards (7th) +800
Ezekiel Elliott (Cowboys) 2,001 yards (2nd) +800
David Johnson (Cardinals) 1,386 yards (16th) +1400
Melvin Gordon (Chargers) 1,375 yards (19th) +1400
James Conner (Steelers) 1,470 yards (10th) +1600
Devonta Freeman (Falcons) N/A +2000
Joe Mixon (Bengals) 1,464 yards (11th) +2000
Aaron Jones (Packers) 934 yards (53rd) +2500
Julio Jones (Falcons) 1,689 (5th) +2500
Leonard Fournette (Jaguars) 624 yards (108th) +2500
Marlon Mack (Colts) 1,011 yards (46th) +2500

*Odds taken 8/7/2019.

Here’s the case for the three players that I circled when I saw the odds: one favorite, one elite player a little farther down the board, and one long shot.

Can Barkley Repeat in 2019?

Saquon Barkley led the league with 2,028 yards in 2018 thanks to a hapless Giants offense that needed him to carry the load.  With Odell Beckham Jr. being traded to the Cleveland Browns, the expectation is Barkley could see even more work this year.

He’s the favorite but still paying +500 which, frankly, is higher than I expected. Those odds carry a 16.7% implied probability.

Last 5 Yards-from-Scrimmage Leaders Season Yards
Saquon Barkley 2018 2,028
Todd Gurley 2017 2,093
David Johnson 2016 2,118
Julio Jones 2015 1,871
DeMarco Murray 2014 2,261

Really, it all comes down to work load and healthy for all of these guys. With the sophomore bell-cow expected to be the outlet for Eli Manning (or Daniel Jones), he will be in the mix this year as well.

Alvin Kamara Is a Player to Watch This Year

Like I said, it’s all about opportunity.  There’s no denying Alvin Kamara has high-end skill both running and catching the football.  He had 883 yards on the ground last year and also mixed in 709 receiving yards.  I like Barkley because OBJ is gone and I like Kamara because he will play more of a feature-back role this season.

I also like the fact that Drew Brees is another year older and should need to use his safety valve more often.

Michael Thomas signed that big extension and will, of course, be relied upon heavily; but with Brees becoming more and more reluctant to throw the ball deep down field, I think it’s Kamara who will put up the biggest numbers.  That’s something to keep in mind before your fantasy draft and when deciding where to lay your cash on this futures bet.

Could Conner Emerge as a Superstar?

James Conner did an admirable job replacing Le’Veon Bell last season.  He tallied 1,470 total yards which included almost 1,000 on the ground.  With Bell’s shadow no longer looming over him, he could emerge as a true superstar in 2019.

Not only is Bell gone but Antonio Brown was also ushered out by the team.  Fewer options and an aging Ben Roethlisberger should equal more touches for Conner.

He may not have entered the league with the same pedigree as other favorites like Barkley or Ezekiel Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys, but he deserves your attention especially considering the +1600 odds he’s been given. The potential for Elliott and Melvin Gordon to miss time due to holdouts only makes Connor more attractive at that price.

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