- Ezekiel Elliot led the NFL in rushing in the 2018 season
- Christian McCaffrey finished with 1,098 rushing yards on 219 carries last season
- Saquon Barkley had 1,307 rushing yards as a rookie, but that number could rise if the New York Giants offensive line has improved
Given the landscape of the running back position in the NFL, there’s a lot of intrigue surrounding the rushing props for the upcoming season. Is Ezekiel Elliott a lock to lead the league in rushing? How’s Todd Gurley’s knee feeling? Is Le’Veon Bell going to perform well after a year off?
Sportsbooks have over/unders for all of the big backs, so let’s see where there’s value.
2019 Christian McCaffrey Rushing Yards Odds
|Christian McCaffrey Rushing Yards In 2019||Odds|
*All odds taken 07/05/19
Everyone thinks so highly of McCaffrey but it’s surprising to see that his rushing total is fairly low. That’s because the Panthers don’t feed him the rock as a rusher as much as they could; they use him in many facets. He had a combined 1,965 yards last season but only 1,098 were rushing yards.
For a second year in a row, the Panthers depth chart is thin on bellcows as it’s really just McCaffrey, Cameron Artis-Payne, and a few fringe players. McCaffrey had just 219 totes last year but that number should go up now that he’s in his third year in the league.
He averaged 5.0 yards per carry last season and with a better offense around him, should – at least – be in that same neighborhood again. I like the over with this prop.
Pick: Over 1040.5 (-120)
2019 Le’Veon Bell Rushing Yards Odds
|Le’Veon Bell Rushing Yards In 2019||Odds|
After taking a year off, Bell is going to be the center of attention this season for both fantasy football and sports betting. He’s in a tough situation to gauge as the variables are the exact opposite of what you’d want. He’s switching teams and systems, and he just took a year off.
In Pittsburgh, he was a centerpiece of a very strong offense. Defenses weren’t able to key-in on him as the Steelers had a prolific passing game. In New York, defense will force the Jets to throw the ball as they have a second-year quarterback and a questionable cast of receivers. Bell is who defense will want to stop.
Lastly, we don’t know about the offensive line. In Pittsburgh, the unit was always pretty strong. However, the Jets’ offensive line has been one of the league’s worst in recent years. Kelvin Beachum was their highest-graded offensive lineman last year, according to Pro Football Focus, and he only had a grade of 66.0.
Taking in all of those factors, I’m betting the under here.
Pick: Under 1125.5 (-120)
2019 Saquon Barkley Rushing Yards Odds
|Saquon Barkley Rushing Yards In 2019||Odds|
Barkley finished his rookie season with 1,307 rushing yards, which is quite impressive when you consider that he only had 261 carries. What’s interesting is that the Giants were absolutely terrible, suffered through a ton of injuries, and had a shoddy offensive line. That should mean that Barkley’s floor is right around 1,300 yards.
The Giants were 3-1 when Barkley had at least 20 carries; they were 2-10 otherwise.
The upside could be immense, though. For starters, he should push 300 carries – especially given that the team still plans to rely on Eli Manning at quarterback. The team was 3-1 when he had at least 20 carries; they were 2-10 otherwise.
Secondly, the Giants’ offensive line should be improved with the likes of Kevin Zeitler and Mike Remmers being added to the team. Beyond that, Will Hernandez will be better in his second season and we saw just how good Nate Solder can be down the stretch of the season.
Those two factors alone should get him over, but if the passing game is at least competent or the defense is improved, the also improves the situation in his favor. Over is a good bet here.
Pick: Over 1350.5 (-125)
2019 Derrick Henry Rushing Yards Odds
|Derrick Henry Rushing Yards In 2019||Odds|
This line seems outrageous. Henry had just 1,059 rushing yards last season and 408 of it came in two games. He averaged 7.6 yards per carry in those games. The rest of the season, he averaged 4.0 yards per carry. Sure, part of that is that he didn’t get full playing time with Dion Lewis stealing carries, but Lewis is still there.
Furthermore, we’ve had situations where Henry has gone into the season with hype and expected to get a serious share of the carries. The problem is that he’s a big, power back who doesn’t always fit the modern style of football. He’s not versatile, so if the Tennessee Titans fall behind or can’t pound the rock, he’ll be on the sidelines.
Running will only work in low scoring games or contests where they’re in control. With contests against Deshaun Watons (twice), Andrew Luck (twice), Patrick Mahomes, Philip Rivers, Drew Brees, and Matt Ryan, good luck with that. Bet the under here.
Pick: Under 1210.5 (-130)
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