Pro football has changed and 4,000-yard passers are not unusual anymore. But NFL betting fans still understand you have to run the ball effectively to win and cover spreads.
While betting might not matter to running backs, the rushing title does. This is also more of a team accomplishment, with the big boys in the trenches doing their jobs and if a long run is broken off, you can be assured a wide receiver or two has something to do with it.
Last season we had six 1,000 yards rushers, led by Adrian Peterson at 1,485 yards. In researching NFL odds at various sportsbooks, we find Peterson is again the favorite at +700. Should you tail Peterson again or is there somebody else who could steal the crown?
Cream of the Crop
Realistically, it is hard to still not like Peterson despite him being 31 years of age. He might not be as explosive or fast as his younger days, but he's on a strong and improving Minnesota club who prefers to run first and he was still third in explosive plays with 10 runs of 20-plus yards.
The best bet for NFL picks might have been Le'Veon Bell (+1100), but once word came down of a four-game suspension, his chances to take the crown went with it. If somehow he is reinstated to play the full season, his odds will drop and chances would rise.
Todd Gurley (+750) and Doug Martin (+900) are definitely in the discussion, having finished third and second respectively a year ago. Gurley could certainly win it being one full year removed from knee surgery and without question is the next great running back. However, the now Los Angeles Rams are at best an ordinary football team and without an even an average quarterback, will defenses look to stop Gurley first in order to force the Rams to throw?
Martin had a special year, but Lovie Smith is no longer the head coach and he was a run-first guy. Dirk Koetter was the offensive play-caller for Tampa Bay, but prior to last year with a rookie quarterback in Jameis Winston, he was known for more multiple offense. Will the change impact Martin?
One player that has my attention is Lamar Miller (+900), now in Houston. Miller is the full package and in a scheme that fits his talents with Bill O'Brien as the coach. Brock Osweiler is upgraded at quarterback for the Texans and let's not lose sight of Houston ran the ball 59 or more times than any other team the past two years.
Other Runners With Big Upsides
One name being used a great deal is rookie Ezekiel Elliott (+1000) for Dallas. The Cowboys still have a strong offensive line more skilled at opening holes than pass blocking and we saw how Elliott hits an opening and scoots once in the secondary. Question on him does he become a full-time starter with Darren McFadden coming off a 1,089-yard campaign?
In looking at other candidates, LeSean McCoy (+1400), Jamal Charles (+1400), Thomas Rawls (+1700) and a slimmed down Eddie Lacy (+1700) are all possible choices. However, for a longer shot, Arizona's David Johnson is on my list at +1900. Johnson averaged a robust 4.6 yards a carry, has breakaway speed and plays in one of the top offenses in the NFL and could be a breakout star.
Place Your Bets
For rushing crown, my three best bets are in order, Peterson, Miller and Johnson. You heard it here first.