Last year Adrian Peterson led the NFL in rushing with 1,485 yards, edging runner-up Doug Martin by a decent day's work for either of them - 83 yards. It was the third time that Peterson topped the list of top yard producers. Can he do it again? Or will someone else take his place? It's an interesting question by itself, but it's even more interesting because we can bet on it. BetOnline has odds listed for pretty much every running back you could imagine. Here is a look at some of the more interesting:
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Todd Gurley, St. Louis (+400): Gurley is a deserving favorite. He was third last year with 1,106 yards, and that was despite coming off an ACL injury suffered in college and missing the first two games and being eased into the third. He was a machine once he started, and now with a full season to play, and another year to recover from that injury, he could be in for a special year. There are concerns, though, For one, the QB situation isn't exactly inspiring in the short term in L.A., so it could be easy for defenses to prepare for him. You have to always be concerned about a guy with a history of knee issues as well. He deserves to be the favorite, but I am looking to beat him.
Adrian Peterson, Minnesota (+600): Peterson is 31, which is not a good age for a running back. Last year his performance benefitted from being suspended the year before, so his legs were fresh. Still, he was more workmanlike than explosive last year - his yards per carry were well behind the next three guys in the standings - and that gets harder to do the more miles you have on your legs. At something like +1500 or +1800 I'd like him a whole l more than this price.
Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas (+800): The rookie from Ohio State is the runaway favorite to be offensive rookie of the year, sitting at -140. It only makes sense to like a running back from the Cowboys. Last year they turned perennially disappointing Darren McFadden into the fourth-best yardage guy in the league. I watched Elliott a ton in college and was never less than very impressed. Good spot, great player, nice price. It's a lot to ask of a rookie, but he is my pick.
Doug Martin, Tampa Bay (+800): Martin was an absolute beast in 2012. His next two years were disasters. Then he came just short of the win last year despite carrying 39 less times than Peterson did. So, were 2013 and 2014 just flukes, or is he incapable of back-to-back strong years? I'm inclined to pass on him, though he's likely to get plenty of opportunities to shine because the way the Bucs are kicking the ball right now they'll likely go for it a lot on fourth down.
Lamar Miller, Houston (+1200): People consistently complained that Miller was underused in his four years in Miami. That certainly won't be the case in Houston. The Bill O'Brien offense produces snaps in high volumes, and they like to run the ball. Last year they had personnel issues, but Miller is a big upgrade, and with a questionable set of quarterbacks the running game could be a huge part of the offense here. This is a fair price, and it's one worthy of a close look.
Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh (+1600): Bell is a major talent on a team that runs well. He should be very attractive. He missed much of last year due to a knee injury, though, and he will miss three games this year due to a missed drug test. Those two things combine to make him unbettable at this, or almost any, price.
Eddie Lacy, Green Bay (+1600): Lacy is only a four-year veteran, but it feels like he has been around for a decade. He was a fantasy favorite heading into last season, but it was a disastrous outing. He was out of shape, and he wound up mostly platooning with James Starks. Ugly. Now he's running for a new contract, and he appears to be in better shape. I just don't trust him, though - not at this price.
Thomas Rawls, Seattle (+2000): Rawls was an undrafted free agent who left Michigan because he couldn't find the field there, and somehow he rushed for 830 yards last year - a remarkable 5.6 yards at a time. Now he's the guy in Seattle. So, can he handle it? The biggest concern in his running style - he's a bruiser, and it could be tough to last a whole season like that, and coming off a broken ankle last year doesn't help. At this price, though, he's worth a shot.
Arian Foster, Miami (+2500): As I write this Foster is celebrating his 30th birthday. Ugh. He missed 12 games last year and 23 over the last three years. He is currently in a fight to even be the top back in Miami. A few years ago there was none better, but Foster is a reminder of just how tough it is for a running back to stay on the top. No reason to bet him - and every reason not to.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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