Adrian Peterson began the year as the favorite to rack up the most rushing yards. Believe it or not, you can still add him to your NFL picks – if you can find him.
Jason's 2015 record as of Dec. 26: 49-48-3 ATS; 0-1 ML (-1.00 units); 25-32-1 Total
Didn't get what you wanted under the Festivus pole this year? No sweat. With barely over a week left to go in the 2015 regular season, it's time once again to see what bargains we can find on the futures market before they close up shop. Most of the props and specials on the NFL odds list have already been decided – or virtually decided, in the case of Cam Newton's MVP drive. But there are a few hangers-on still available at an increasingly small number of locations.
For example: Who will gain the most rushing yards in 2015? Going into the new season, the favorite at Bovada was Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson (+350). Sure enough, Peterson leads the league in rushing through Week 15. You can't get him at Bovada anymore, but if you shop around, you might still be able to find Peterson at –225. Deal, or No Deal?
The Martin Chronicles
At first blush, “No Deal” looks like the right answer. Peterson has 1,314 rushing yards going into Sunday night's game (8:30 p.m. ET, NBC) versus the New York Giants. In second place, just nine yards behind at 1,305, is RB Doug Martin of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Martin seems like a relative bargain for your NFL picks at +130; he's got a game coming up Sunday afternoon (1:00 p.m. ET, FOX) against the Chicago Bears.
So why the gap? Market forces have plenty to do with it – these specials are a hit with recreational bettors, and so is Peterson. The former MVP was and is a highly popular player, even after his one-year suspension over allegations of child abuse. Martin is a relative unknown playing in Tampa Bay, and he started the season as a +5000 long shot to lead the league in rushing yards. While Martin may be catching up to Peterson on the leader board, the market hasn't been keeping pace.
The Bears in Winter
What about the remaining schedule? Peterson has games coming up against the Giants and the Green Bay Packers, while Martin will face the Bears and the Carolina Panthers. Here's how those four teams stack up in defensive efficiency against the run, as per Football Outsiders:
Carolina: No. 8 overall
Green Bay: No. 18
N.Y. Giants: No. 19
Chicago: No. 32
As we say in poker, Martin faces a polarized range in the last two games, while Peterson's up against a capped range. That's actually good for Martin, who does need to play catch-up and should benefit from playing the Bears. Also, keep in mind that Peterson is nursing a sore ankle and has been sitting out practices this week. He'll play against the Giants, but he won't be at full speed, and Peterson could even be pulled early if the Vikings take a sizable lead. His health for the playoffs would mean a lot more to Minnesota than “winning” the rushing yards “title.”
Bucs coach Lovie Smith, on the other hand, is stumping for Martin. “I think it's important to our offensive line to help Doug Martin be the leading rusher in the league,” Smith told ESPN's Rick Brown on Wednesday. Well, all righty then. Enjoy your scavenger hunt, folks, and may the prolate spheroid be with you.