Today’s NFL offenses are passing the football more than ever before, but fielding an efficient rushing attack is still considered an effective league-wide strategy. Several of last season’s most successful rushing attacks qualified for the postseason, including the league-leading Philadelphia Eagles, who averaged 159.7 rushing yards per contest. The Tennessee Titans, New England Patriots, Arizona Cardinals, and Dallas Cowboys represent four additional playoff teams that finished the regular season as a top-10 rushing offense.
An abundance of running backs are capable of leading the league in rushing yards this coming season. Several of the favorites have previously captured the league’s rushing title. Colts superstar running back Jonathan Taylor is the reigning champion after accumulating a league-high 1,811 rushing yards last season. Several worthy contenders will threaten Taylor’s throne in 2022.
Predicting this season’s rushing yards leader is an exciting exercise worth partaking in. The NFL futures prop betting landscape for this campaign’s 2022 rushing yards leader is officially starting to take shape. BetOnline has already updated the exciting odds. The top 10 shakes out as follows:
- Jonathan Taylor (+500)
- Derrick Henry (+600)
- Dalvin Cook (+1000)
- Nick Chubb (+1000)
- Najee Harris (+1200)
- Joe Mixon (+1400)
- J.K. Dobbins (+1800)
- Antonio Gibson (+2000)
- Elijah Mitchell (+2000)
- Cam Akers (+2000)
THE FAVORITE: JONATHAN TAYLOR
Last season’s rushing champion is an ascending superstar and it’s easy to understand why the oddsmakers love Taylor’s chances of repeating last year’s success. A former second-round selection out of Wisconsin, Taylor is just 23 and fully capable of handling another 300-plus carry season in 2022. Taylor features little wear on his tires as he prepares to enter his third professional campaign in Indianapolis.
It is worth monitoring how new starting quarterback Matt Ryan impacts Indianapolis’ offensive identity. Colts General Manager Chris Ballard acquired Ryan after receiving less-than-desirable quarterback play from Carson Wentz last season, who the Colts have since traded to the Washington Commanders. Ryan was acquired to upgrade Indianapolis’ passing attack, and it could have a direct impact on Taylor’s volume.
Indianapolis must field a more successful passing offense than it did last season. Ballard also upgraded his pass-catching corps by drafting Alec Pierce with his first selection in the 2022 NFL Draft. The Colts previously lacked a quality No. 2 receiver behind Michael Pittman Jr. A more balanced approach could mean fewer carries for Taylor. Ryan has typically operated in pass-happy offenses, and although it’s unlikely Colts Head Coach Frank Reich swings the pendulum in the complete opposite direction, we do expect Indianapolis to throw the ball on a much more consistent basis going forward.
MY PICK: DERRICK HENRY
The back-to-back rushing champion in 2019 and 2020 appeared on pace to make it three in a row in 2021 before suffering a regular-season ending foot injury in a Week 8 victory over the Colts. At the time of his unexpected injury, Henry was leading the league in carries, rushing yards, and rushing touchdowns. The former Alabama ball-carrier was headed toward shattering the NFL’s all-time rushing record while averaging a league-high 117.1 yards per contest.
Volume is more than half the battle when predicting rushing leaders and Tennessee has consistently shown a willingness to provide Henry with 25-plus carries per game. Furthermore, Henry’s injury was a Jones fracture, which carries very little chance of reinjury. He’s no more likely to get hurt again than any other player in the league.
Tennessee’s offseason approach has made it rather straightforward to forecast terrific volume for Henry in 2022. General Manager Jon Robinson traded away No. 1 receiver A.J. Brown after negotiations regarding a contract extension broke down. Julio Jones was designated as a post-June 1 release. Robinson has completely revamped his passing offense this summer by drafting Treylon Burks, Chigoziem Okonkwo, and Kyle Philips, signing Austin Hooper, and trading for Robert Woods, who continues to heal from last season’s torn ACL injury.
Starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill will need time to develop chemistry with his new weapons. Look for Henry to carry the bulk of the offense in the meantime.
DON’T FORGET ABOUT: NAJEE HARRIS
Najee Harris was electric as a first-year ball-carrier in 2021. The former Alabama standout finished fourth in rushing with 1,200 yards despite playing behind an underwhelming offensive line. Pittsburgh made run blocking an offseason priority by signing a pair of new starters in James Daniels and Mason Cole.
Last year, Offensive Coordinator Matt Canada’s offense centered around Harris, who carried the ball on 307 occasions. Only Taylor saw more volume (332 carries) than Harris did. Forecasting that type of volume for Harris for a second consecutive season is actually rather straightforward.
Veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger retired this offseason and the Steelers are now facing a transition at quarterback. Now-retired General Manager Kevin Colbert signed Mitchell Trubisky and drafted Kenny Pickett this summer, and whichever signal-caller ends up making more starts under center is expected to help lead a run-first identity. It’s difficult to imagine Trubisky or Pickett being asked to drop back 35-plus times on a weekly basis. Pittsburgh’s offense will run (no pun intended) through Harris. It makes him a viable candidate to capture his first rushing title.