With the NFL transitioning to a more pass-friendly league in recent years, rushing has lost some of its appreciation. However, there are still many talented running backs capable of moving the chains and impacting the game.
Sportsbooks have posted rushing futures and props for the upcoming regular season, including odds to win the rushing title and over-unders for individual rushing totals.
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Reigning rushing champion Jonathan Taylor is the consensus favorite – priced between +450 and +500 – to lead the league in rushing yards, and is tagged with the highest over/under rushing yards total – 1350.5 on DraftKings – among all players. Fellow AFC South back Derrick Henry finds himself as a very close second to Taylor, being priced between +500 and +650.
Successful bettors take into account a lot of factors when choosing which running backs to back or fade. So if you’re wishing to cash in on a rushing props or futures ticket, it’ll be in your best interest to first ask yourself these questions: Is the running back competing with another player in the backfield who may take away some carries? Has the running back shown recent progression or regression, in terms of yards per carry or carries per game? Is the team more pass- or run-heavy? Does the team tend to build leads and milk the clock by running the ball, or fall behind and abandon the run?
We will update these odds and picks and add more rushing props throughout the offseason.
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Rushing Leader Odds and Over/Under Rushing Yards
Here are odds on different running backs to lead the league in regular-season rushing yards, as well as individual over/under rushing yardage totals, across the betting market.
|Running Back||Rushing Yards Leader Odds (DraftKings)||Rushing Yards Leader Odds (Caesars, Use Code TODAY15)||Rushing Yards Leader Odds (BetMGM, Use Code TODAY)||Over/Under Rushing Yards (DraftKings)||Over/Under Rushing Yards (FanDuel)|
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Rushing Yards Leader Best Bets
Jonathan Taylor (+500, BetMGM)
Taylor hit the ground running – literally – the moment he entered the NFL. After flashing for the third most yards in the league with 1,169 rushing yards in his rookie campaign, the Wisconsin product made strides the following season by rushing for a league-leading 1,811 yards on 5.5 yards per carry in 2021. He was 552 rushing yards clear of the player with the second most (Nick Chubb).
The young stud enters as the favorite to repeat in his third season not only because he earned the title last season, but also because he has the highest floor among all top contenders. At just 23 years old with fewer than 600 career carries, Taylor has the freshest legs in the race, practically owns his team’s entire backfield, and has the most rushing yards in the league over the past two seasons.
Derrick Henry (+650, DraftKings)
Before Taylor ran away with last season’s title, the one player that rushing aficionados revered and feared more than anyone was Tennessee Titans bell cow running back Derrick Henry.
The six-foot three-inch, 247-pound running back bulldozed his way to consecutive rushing titles in 2019 and 2020 with 1,540 and 2,027 yards, respectively. He was bound for a three consecutive title in the 2021 season – on pace for 1,991 rushing yards – but a broken foot severed his dominant streak.
Having used the entire offseason to recover from surgery, the workhorse still deserves to be the rushing leader co-favorite, given his usage on the team and his skill set. He’s the best, most unstoppable pure runner in the league, and handles the biggest rushing workload (23.1 carries and 115.5 rush yards per game since 2019). That sheer volume is what places Henry among the favorites to become the rushing leader every year. A reportedly fueled up and ready King Henry looks to steal back his rushing crown from Taylor and become the first player since Barry Sanders in the ‘90s to win three rushing titles in a four-year span.
Najee Harris (+1600, BetMGM)
One of the most interesting names to watch is second-year back Najee Harris, who totaled 1,200 rushing yards as a rookie – fourth most in the league. His 307 total carries – second most in the league – would’ve been enough to run for the most yards, but his 3.9 yards per carry threw him out of the running.
Watching Ben Roethlisberger play quarterback last season was uneasy on the eyes. Opposing defenses didn’t respect his passing ability in the slightest, and therefore, focused all of their attention towards Harris, which explains the running back’s inefficient rushing. With Mitchell Trubisky now under center, the box will be less crowded, giving Harris more room to breathe and more opportunities at longer runs.
Key Betting Trends For Past Rushing Yards Leaders
Futures bets are typically unpredictable and great for favoring deep longshots. However, rushing futures have told a different story as of late. Six of the last seven leaders entered the season with odds between +285 and +1300, and the average price of those six top rushers was +723. The six leaders also had either the shortest or third shortest odds, which should teach bettors that they can expect eventual rushing leaders to be towards the top of odds boards.
The one anomaly came in 2017, when unpriced Kareem Hunt led the league with 1,327 rushing yards in his rookie season, only after starter Spencer Ware missed the entire season with a preseason injury.
Best Bets For Over/Under Rushing Totals
J.K. Dobbins Over 875.5 Yards (-115, DraftKings)
Ravens running back J.K. Dobbins was the top rusher in a backfield committee as a rookie in 2020, running for 805 yards on 6.0 yards per carry alongside Gus Edwards (723 yards) and Mark Ingram (299 yards). He was in line to handle a much bigger role in 2021, but a torn ACL in the preseason forced him to miss his entire sophomore campaign.
Baltimore’s run game was a disaster last season, as Dobbins, Edwards, and Justice Hill all suffered season-ending injuries. The void they had all left behind was filled poorly with signees Devonta Freeman, Latavius Murray, and Le’Veon Bell, none of whom exhibited starter capabilities.
Dobbins’ return will help reestablish Baltimore’s run-first game plan. The Ohio State product is now the unquestioned starter in the backfield, where he should expect to see a ton of opportunities, especially given the team’s lack of depth at wide receiver.
Lamar Jackson’s elite rushing ability puts a cap on Dobbins’ ceiling. After all, there have been just three 876-plus rushing yardage seasons achieved by Ravens players during the Lamar Jackson era, and Jackson owns two of them. However, the 23-year-old back is still explosive enough to gain over 875.5 yards – and maybe even reach 1,000 – on the ground.
Elijah Mitchell Over 900.5 Yards (-112, FanDuel)
San Francisco 49ers running back Elijah Mitchell was so dominant as a rookie rusher last season that he ranked eighth in the NFL with 963 rushing yards, despite playing just 11 games. That 87.5 yards per game average was good enough for fifth in the league. Now a year older and expected to play more games next season, Mitchell is likely to shatter his over/under total.
Mitchell’s numbers were uninfluenced by “Wide back” Deebo Samuel’s emergence as a part-time running back in the second half of last season. The lead back averaged 24 carries and 107 rushing yards per game in the four games that Samuel saw five-plus carries. If Mitchell doubters still need more convincing, then they should check out reports that Samuel doesn’t want to be used as a running back in San Francisco’s offense amid trade rumors. So regardless of the hybrid wide receiver’s role or team in 2022, Mitchell’s rushing efficiency and volume on one of the league’s run-heaviest teams paves the way for an easy Over cover.
Also read: 2022 NFL Passing Props