Leading rusher market

So I managed to go way over the top on the Leading Passer market last night, go have a look if you haven’t already. I have a feeling the leading rusher market should be a little easier to write, there’s not that many contenders for it in my eyes, so shouldn’t take as long.

Once again, Betfred and Skybet are offering EW on them, as well as on the leading rushing TD scorers. William Hill were offering EW on the passing market, but don’t have any prices on rushing at the moment, I’m sure they will have them in the next week or so, but at time of writing, nothing available unfortunately. – RedzoneSports have said they’ll be opening EW on the leading stats markets within the week, so keep an eye out on them too.

So obviously you’re looking for a workhorse back, one with no-one else in the backfield to take touches away from him. That narrows it down considerably as there’s only a few of them in the league.

Ezekiel Elliott, LeVeon Bell, Todd Gurley, Leonard Fournette, LeSean McCoy, David Johnson, Melvin Gordon. And that’s about it.

Despite winning us some cash last season, McCoy is out of the running for me, he may have some issues coming and his offensive line was weakened in the off-season, his team could be the worst in the league and he also turns 30 which is commonly the time for down-turn for RBs.

Fournette is out for me, despite the fact they’ll probably be run heavy again in Jacksonville, I don’t like the injury risk there, recurring ankle injuries are a big flag for me on RBs.

Of the remaining 5 guys, 4 of them are commonly used in the passing game as well meaning that their workload will be spread between rushing and passing plays.

Last years rushing yards (or last full year) Bell – 1,291, Gurley – 1,305, Gordon – 1,105, Elliott – 983 (in 10 games) Johnson – 1,239

These are the average catches per game for them last season (or last season they played in DJs case), Bell – 5.6, Johnson – 5, Gurley – 4.2, Gordon – 3.6, Zeke – 2.6.

So… Zeke played 10 games last year and averaged 98.3 yards per game, extrapolating that to 15 games he’d have run for 1,474 yards and would have won the rushing award by around 100 yards from Kareem Hunt. The Cowboys have lost around 50% of them team catches last season with Dez and Witton leaving over the summer. They’ll be very run heavy and Zeke has one of the best offensive lines in the league to run behind. Everything logically says it should be Zeke – Ezekiel Elliott – 9/2 – Betfred – 5pts

LeVeon Bell is holding out of training camp again, but he’ll be back week 1, he started a little slow last year, just the 32 yards against the Browns. The Steelers are another team with a very good offensive line for Bell to run behind. This year they will likely run him into the ground and he’s probably going to be leaving them next summer. You can get 6/1 on him over at Betfred if you want.

Todd Gurley and the Rams offence were dynamite last year, leading the league in scoring. The play-calling of Shanahan and the improved offensive line play helped him greatly, but he did a lot of his work catching from the backfield. I think they shocked the league a little last year, and defensive co-oridinators will be studying tape on them all off-season! Warren Sharp over at sharpfootballstats.com has the Rams facing the easiest rushing schedule this year (for the record the Cowboys and Steelers are around middle of the road) He’s available at 9/2 at Fred and Sky.

Melvin Gordon has an improved offensive line to run behind this year, they signed well in free agency and should welcome back Forrest Lamp after he killed himself in pre-season last year. I don’t have a whole lot to say about Gordon, he’ll probably top 1,000 yards and have over 10 TDs on the season, but I just don’t see him topping the tables. The bookies don’t either with 20/1 available at 365 and Betfred for him.

David Johnson is the mid-priced guy I want to have a go on. He missed all of last season with a wrist injury, I believe he could have come back in at the end of the season had they been challenging, but as they were out of it they let it be. He has no competition behind him, and the team doesn’t have much in the passing game with pretty much just Larry Fitzgerald. So they’ll rely on him a lot this year. Being able to get 16/1 EW for him at Skybet, I think I’ve got to go on him. David Johnson – 16/1 – Skybet – 3pts EW 

You might be wondering why I haven’t mentioned a few guys here. Kareem Hunt won the rushing title last year. The main reason is that I think Spencer Ware being back will eat into his workload. Traditionally head coach Andy Reid hasn’t ever overworked one RB, it’s just the way things fell last year with injuries to others.

Dalvin Cook is an interesting one, on a team who should be in positions to run the ball as their defence will generally keep them in close games. He’s got the potential to be very good, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see him there or thereabouts, but Latavius Murray will probably get mixed in more than I would want for a market like this.

Jordan Howard will be up there, the Bears offense should be completely different to watch this year and despite reports coming out of Chicago I don’t think he’ll be used too much in the passing game. I’m expecting him to be mainly the back used on the first 2 downs, but I’m not 100%. Either way, Tarik Cohen being there gives me pause.

Saquon Barkley. This is where I’m going to struggle! The rookie comes in with people claiming he’s a generational talent, the best RB in years, etc… But the Giants offensive line is unproven, and he’s very very good in the passing game as well. Total yards he may well be top 3. Rushing yards, I’m just not sure. They brought in Jonathon Stewart who could vulture some short yards as well. BUT at 20/1 EW on Betfred he could be worth a small punt if you fancy it.

Briefs for a few guys –

  • Alvin Kamara – lots of work catching, Marc Ingram will be back after 4 weeks.
  • Devonta Freeman – Tevin Coleman problem
  • Jay Ajayi – They use a lot of RBs in Phillie
  • Royce Freeman – A lot of hype, but not yet the RB1, could take a few weeks
  • Jerrick McKinnon – Lots of catching here too, Matt Breida will take some rushes too
  • Rashaad Penny – Not yet RB1 there, horrible O-Line, poor defence
  • Lamar Miller – Played well with Watson at QB, but he’s just not good enough
  • Joe Mixon – Will be good this year, but has Gio Bernard there still

Couple of longshots I like the look of though, you can get 80/1 on Derrius Guice at Betfred. He should have been taken in the first round but apparently had some character flaws. The Washington O-line had a lot of injuries last year, but they still tried to run the ball a lot. From reports I’ve read he should be taking over in the backfield and can be a full 3 down back. The negatives? Rob Kelley, Chris Thompson and Samaje Perine are all there still and will be competing with him. But at the odds I’ll probably have a punt – Derrius Guice – 80/1 EW – Skybet – 0.5pt

Marshawn Lynch interests me as well, it seems like Gruden wants to go back to the 90s in Oakland with a heavy run style behind a full back and Lynch is the likely starting man there. He had a very good finish to the year and will probably get a lot of carries. You can get 100/1 on him at Betfred if you wanted. There’s too many doubts in my mind on how they’ll play and Doug Martin has been getting hype over the summer too and may take some plays from him. 150/1 on Ladbrokes if you want him straight up.

Summary –

  • Ezekiel Elliott – 9/2 – Betfred – 5pts
  • David Johnson – 16/1 – Skybet – 3pts EW 
  • Derrius Guice – 80/1 EW – Skybet – 0.5pt

12 points total.

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