Workhorse running backs are no longer a thing of the past in the NFL. Teams are now back to investing high draft picks on ball carriers (Ezekiel Elliott, Leonard Fournette, and Saquan Barkley were all top-five picks in their respective drafts), and guys are again being trusted to carry the ball 25-30 times per game. As a result, running backs are accumulating stats at a much higher pace than they were 10-15 years ago. So, who will lead the league in rushing in 2018? The early NFL odds paint a very clear picture.
Odds as of July 26, 2018 courtesy of Sportsbook.ag.
Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars (+900)
Fournette was really good, and at some times great, during his rookie season in 2017. The combination of the Jaguars’ outstanding defense and the erratic play of quarterback Blake Bortles has us confident that Fournette will see a massive workload in 2018. If he stays healthy, we like his chances to contend for the 2018 rushing title.
Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams (+900)
Gurley was simply phenomenal in 2017. The former Georgia Bulldog recently landed a hefty contract extension from the Rams, which means that he will be able to focus all of his attention on a repeat performance in 2018. Barring injury, Gurley has the potential to be a darkhorse MVP candidate.
Kareem Hunt, Kansas City Chiefs (+800)
Like Fournette, Hunt burst onto the NFL scene as a (much less heralded) rookie in 2017. With the Chiefs transitioning to Patrick Mahomes at quarterback, Hunt should be in for another huge workload in 2018.
Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers (+600)
This one is interesting. Bell’s contract standoff with the Steelers has been well-documented. If he ends up playing the entire season, he will almost surely content for the NFL rushing crown. If he decides to hold out, the three-time All-Pro will be out of the running within the first month of the regular season.
Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys (+350)
Elliott is the odds-on favorite to take home the 2018 rushing title — for good reason. With the drama of his 2017 suspension is now officially behind him, Elliott can focus on returning to the form he showed as a rookie in 2016 (1,631 yards and 15 touchdowns). Let’s not forget, he will have the added benefit of running behind the best offensive line in the National Football League.
Statistics courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.
Other notable players to watch:
- Jordan Howard (+1000)
- Dalvin Cook (+1500)
- LeSean McCoy (+1600)
- David Johnson (+1800)
- Saquan Barkley (+1800)
- Melvin Gordon (+2000)
- Derrius Guice (+2500)
Follow Jimmie on Twitter: @jimmiekaylor.