The running back position has increasingly become one for young men and one which teams aren't willing to pay premium dollars for. Against that background, though, we have a very interesting story developing as two elder statesmen of the position are joining new teams and making a lot of headlines as a result. Adrian Peterson is a New Orleans Saint, and Marshawn Lynch has returned from retirement to join the Oakland Raiders. The success of either guy isn't certain, but what both guys will do and the impact they will have is endlessly fascinating to speculate about. The oddsmakers at BetOnline obviously agree because they have set a range of props facing the two off against each other.
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Both lead their team in rushing TDs - "yes" +200, "no" -260: Any of these props is tough to judge when it comes to Peterson. He has been productive every year he has stayed healthy. He didn't stay healthy last year, though - and that's a big problem. If the Vikings had a lot of faith that he would be fine this year then they may have kept him around. Now he's heading to the Saints, who already had a 1,000-yard rusher in Mark Ingram, and he's sticking around. Peterson is a more talented back, but he's also old and fragile. Will he get a chance to be a primary option, or at least a 1A? Or will he be a backup who gets to mop up when he's healthy? And, as significantly, are the Saints going to be capable of using two top-level running backs effectively when they have often struggled to maximize just one? Ingram had only six touchdowns last year, so it wouldn't be too tough for Peterson to beat that if he had the chance - he has had double-digit touchdowns every season of his career in which he has played at least 12 games.
Things are a little different in Oakland but no easier to decode. Lynch has less meaningful competition. Latavius Murray had 12 touchdowns for Oakland last year, but he has headed to Minnesota to replace Peterson. Lynch will have less competition, but he has also been out of the game, and I don't exactly trust his mental game. So, what does it all mean? Both have a chance to lead their teams, but there is nothing certain in either case. I would take a shot on the yes side because of the payoff if I had to take a side, but I am not rushing out to free up cash to make a big splash here.
Both lead their team in rushing - yes +220, no -280: Lynch should. I'm not convinced Peterson will. Ingram is younger and more familiar with the ways things are done in New Orleans. At best it's a coin flip with the Saints, but I think that that is being generous. Again, I would lean to the yes just because I hate huge favorite prices, but I'm not excited by the prospect of this bet.
First to score a touchdown - Lynch -140, Peterson +110: Peterson should be very highly motivated for the opener because he plays at Minnesota. Normally he would be a very attractive play here. The problem, though, is that he plays on Monday, while Lynch starts against the Titans on the Sunday. So you are effectively betting that Lynch won't score in his opener and then that Peterson will score. I don't find that attractive or even remotely playable.
Most rushing yards - Lynch -174.5 yards -105, Peterson +174.5 yards, -125: Without putting too much thought into it, I think you have to take Lynch here. He is the primary choice - or at least he will be if he stays healthy. Peterson is sharing time. Also, Peterson is a year older and is coming off injuries, while Lynch has been resting by the pool and letting his body recover. And Lynch is playing in front of his hometown team and will be motivated by that. This is the most attractive bet on the board so far.
Most rushing touchdowns - Lynch -2.5 TDs +100, Peterson +2.5 TDs, -130: The same logic stands here as for the last prop. Lynch has had at least 11 touchdowns in his last four complete seasons, and he won't have to share with a back the caliber of Ingram. His health is somewhat easier to trust, too. At this price Lynch is a sound play here.
Either RB to be traded during the season - yes +500, no -800: This one is easy money - albeit not a lot of money. How often do big-name guys get traded during the season? If this was baseball or hockey then it would be a whole different discussion, but this is a very rare case where you could justify that there is a touch of value at a ridiculously low price like -800. If one guy were to move it would be Peterson, but given the sport and the idiotic placement of the trade deadline it won't happen.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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