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Bell, Johnson Pegged As Co-Faves To Pace NFL In Rushing

Predicting who will lead the NFL in rushing yards has been far from a science over the past several years. Dating back to the 2009 season, seven different players have paced the league in rushing yards; Adrian Peterson was the lone back to accomplish the feat twice.

On top of that, the volatility and quick deterioration of running backs have played a big factor in the rushing leader. In the same eight-season span we reference above, seven of the leading rushers were 27 years old or younger. Again, the lone exception is Peterson.

Oddsmakers have taken notice of these two trends and have pegged Le’Veon Bell and David Johnson as small +300 co-favorites to pace the NFL in rushing yards this season. Neither the Pittsburgh Steelers nor Arizona Cardinals back has finished first in rushing in his career, and both are 25 years old or younger.

Bell’s patience and versatility make him arguably the best running back in the NFL and it seems like he is destined to win at least one rushing crown. That being said, Bell has only played 16 games once during his previous four years in the NFL, which is more than a little concerning.

Johnson exploded in his sophomore campaign last season and the sky is clearly the limit entering his third season in the NFL. Johnson found himself on the field for over 80 percent of the Cardinals snaps last season thanks to his ability to both run and catch the ball. The one knock is that the passing game has been good but seems due for a drop-off considering the age at QB and WR.

One back who pops out to me is Todd Gurley (+2000). The LA Rams bell cow was absolutely dominant in his rookie season but struggled under the antiquated system that Jeff Fisher ran during his sophomore campaign. Enter Sean McVay. The new Rams coach actually understands how to operate an NFL offense in the 21st century and the offensive line has gotten some boosts in free agency, but Gurley’s stats will be dependent on Jared Goff’s growth. If the quarterback looks as dreadful as he did during his rookie campaign, then defenses can stack the box to stop Gurley. But if Goff can at least be OK, then No. 30 could be in for a good year.

Who Will Lead the NFL in Rushing Yards?

Odds as of September 5 at Bovada

  • Le’Veon Bell (PIT) +300
  • David Johnson (ARZ) +300
  • Jordan Howard (CHI) +1000
  • DeMarco Murray (TEN) +1000
  • Jay Ajayi (MIA) +1000
  • LeSean McCoy (BUF) +1600
  • Melvin Gordon (LAC) +1800
  • Todd Gurley (LAR) +2000
  • Devonta Freeman (ATL) +2200
  • Marshawn Lynch (OAK) +2500
  • Lamar Miller (HOU) +3300
  • Leonard Fournette (JAX) +3300
  • Joe Mixon (CIN) +5000
  • CJ Anderson (DEN) +5000
  • Carlos Hyde (SF) +5000
  • Dalvin Cook (MIN) +5000
  • Eddie Lacy (SEA) +5000
  • Isaiah Crowell (CLE) +5000
  • Paul Perkins (NYG) +5000
  • Ty Montgomery (GB) +5000
  • Adrian Peterson (NO) +5000
  • Bilal Powell (NYJ) +6600
  • Doug Martin (TB) +6600
  • Jamaal Charles (DEN) +6600
  • Christian McCaffrey (CAR) +6600
  • Mike Gillislee (NE) +6600
  • Mark Ingram (NO) +10000
  • LeGarrette Blount (PHI) +10000
  • Thomas Rawls (SEA) +10000
  • Rob Kelley (WSH) +10000
  • Matt Forte (NYJ) +10000
  • Devontae Booker (DEN) +10000

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