NFL Rushing Leader Odds, Picks and Predictions
by Trevor Whenham - 7/9/2014
One good way to make the endless NFL offseason seem bearable is to look ahead to the next season. A great way to do that is to look at player props - rushing props in this case (odds are from Sportsbook.ag). Here are some picks and predictions for betting on the top rusher this upcoming season.
Adrian Peterson, +300: Peterson is a tough case, but I am skeptical that he deserves to be a strong favorite like he is. He's 29 years old, which is getting up there for a running back - especially one who has already done as much as he has. After an MVP season in 2012, things did not go as well last year. The death of his son during the season was an obvious distraction, and he ran out of gas late in the season, missing two games and struggling in two others. He was brilliant in 2012, but he is still dealing with age and a recovering ACL, so there is no certainty he can find that form again. On the other hand, an offense led by a young quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater should have plenty of opportunities to perform. Add it all up, and while Peterson certainly has a chance to win it all, this low price is a product of his reputation more than a reflection of his real value. I'd let him beat me at this price.
LeSean McCoy, +450: McCoy is the defending champ, so he deserves the respect these odds suggest. His win last year was no fluke - you can't fluke into an average of 5.1 yards per game - so he has every chance to repeat the effort. There are a couple of reasons for uncertainty, though, and they both have to do with Chip Kelly. This is the second year of the Kelly regime, and the first year was a real success in so many ways. Teams will know what to expect, though, so they will be much more prepared for what they will be facing this year. Kelly doesn't stand still, so he will in turn change his approach to keep opponents guessing. That all means that we can't confidently be sure that the offense McCoy thrived in last year will be just like the one he will be in this year. Still, I like the price -- at least compared to Peterson's.
Marshawn Lynch, +1200: The biggest concern I have about Lynch is how healthy he has been in the past. He has only missed one game in his last four seasons and only eight games in his seven-year career. That's a big workload, and sooner or later he is going to wear down under that load. I also have concerns about the Seahawks in dealing with the pressure of having a massive target on their collective back, and outside of 2012 he has not had a yards per carry average that is quite good enough to get me excited. Despite the fatter price, I see no value here.
Arian Foster, +1500: People who are betting on Foster obviously like redemption stories - or they think that the rebound season of Peterson a couple of years ago can be repeated here. Foster is coming off a lousy season, but that is because of a combination of the emergence of Ben Tate and a whole collection of injuries. Well, Tate is in Cleveland now, and Foster says that he is healthy. So, can he recapture his magic? Well, he's only 27, so there should still be some rubber on the tires. He is playing for a new coach, though, and the QB situation is, to be kind, a complete joke. We can't really have any idea what the offense will look like or what Foster's role will be in it. We can be reasonably confident, though, that the quarterbacks aren't going to be great, so Foster will have an opportunity to shine. This price is fair and perhaps even attractive.
Jamaal Charles, +1500: Charles is a massive talent, and I would love to pick him. When I first looked at this price I thought that it was a real bargain. The more I thought about it, though, the less attracted I was. There are two big concerns. First, running back Knile Davis is entering his second season. He was lousy early last year, but he got much better as the season went on, and Andy Reid is likely to use him more. It could be hard for Charles to get the touches he needs with Davis on the scene. Second, Charles has very good hands, and Reid likes to throw to running backs, so he might not get the running totals he needs because his passing numbers could be too good.
Maurice Jones-Drew, +15000:
I obviously am not suggesting that Jones-Drew stands a chance in this group. I just threw him in here because he is a clear sign of how cruel this game can
be. Not long ago he was a perennial MVP candidate. Now he's the longest shot on the board here, and no one would think twice about it. Don't let your kid
grow up to be a running back.
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