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Saquon Barkley Favored to Lead NFL in Rushing After Week 1; Elliott Has Second-Best Odds

NY Giants RB Saquon Barkley eludes Josh Norman of Washington
Saquon Barkley didn't get a lot of touches in Week 1, but he averaged nearly 11 yards per carry against a good Dallas defense. Photo by KA Sports Photos (flickr) [CC License].
  • Saquon Barkley had 1,307 rushing yards last season, second-most in the NFL
  • Ezekiel Elliott had the most rushing yards in 2018 with 1,434
  • Barkley finished Week 1 with 120 yards and a 10.9 YPC average

After Week 1, New York Giants’ bell-cow Saquon Barkley has 120 rushing yards, good for third-most in the NFL. Ahead of him sits the Indianapolis Colts’ Marlon Mack, who amassed a whopping 174 yards against the Chargers, and the Carolina Panthers’ Christian McCaffrey, who ran for 128 against the Rams.

Here’s how Bovada’s updated odds to lead the NFL in rushing look ahead of Week 2.

Odds to Lead the NFL in Rushing Yards in 2019

Player (Team) Odds at Bovada (09/12/19)
Saquon Barkley (Giants) +275
Ezekiel Elliott (Cowboys) +400
Dalvin Cook (Vikings) +650
Derrick Henry (Titans) +1200
Christian McCaffrey (Panthers) +1200
Todd Gurley (Rams) +1400
Marlon Mack (Colts) +1400
Nick Chubb (Browns) +1500
Le’Veon Bell (Jets) +2000
Joe Mixon (Bengals) +2200

In Barkley’s first outing this season against the Dallas Cowboys, he averaged 10.9 yards per carry, which is a stupendous achievement.

He did fumble his first touch, after not having one fumble all of last season, but he made up for it right away with a 59-yard gain.

Barkley’s Big Role in Giant’s Offense

The Giants are down three top receivers, making New York’s offense even more dependent than ever on Barkley. Odell Beckham Jr. was traded to the Cleveland Browns, Golden Tate is suspended for four games after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug, and Corey Coleman is out for the season with a torn ACL.

Surprisingly, Barkley, the reigning 2018 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, had only 15 touches in the Week 1 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. That is expected to change in Week 2 when the Giants host the Bills.

Barkley finished his rookie campaign with 352 touches, second to Ezekiel Elliott.

Elliott opened as the favorite to lead NFL in rushing yards in 2019.

Barkley vs. Zeke

Last season, Barkley finished with 1,307 rushing yards and an NFL-best 2,028 scrimmage yards in 16 games. Elliott finished with 1,434 rushing yards and 2,001 scrimmage yards in 15 games.

Week 1 wasn’t the best start for Elliott, he rushed for only 53 yards, scoring one touchdown. He averaged 4.1 yards per carry in his 2019 debut against a bad Giants defense.

In NFL analyst Maurice Jones-Drew’s Week 2 power rankings, Barkley is ranked second to Christian McCaffrey and Elliott holds up the fifth spot.

Reliability

Both running backs have been on the lucky side of injuries thus far in their respective careers. The 22-year-old Barkley had some trouble with his hamstring in the preseason of 2018, but he was active for all 16 regular season games in 2018.

The Dallas Cowboys were unsure right up until the season started if they’d have their star running back, as Elliott was holding out for a bigger contract, but they agreed to a deal just in time for Week 1. The six-year, $90 million contract extension made Elliott the highest-paid running back in the NFL.

Elliott, only 24 years old, missed a Week 17 game last season. In 2017, he missed six games of the regular season due to violation of a personal conduct policy. He missed one game in his first season in 2016 as well.

The Bottom Line

Barkley and Elliott are their own class of running backs. Given the workload and responsibility of Barkley in the Giants’ offense this season, it has to be assumed that he will see more touches this year and that Week 1 was an anomaly. He is the better bet at +275.

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