The NFL preseason is in full swing, as we’ve already seen the 2018 version of each of the 32 teams. More action is still to come – both in exhibition and training camps – but if NFL betting fans are looking at futures, now is a good time to bet them.
We’ve perused the menu for the best running backs props on the board at William Hill. Here are our four favorite bets:
The New York Giants were nothing short of pathetic as a rushing team last season. They finished the year 26th in rushing yards (96.8 per game) and amassed just six rushing touchdowns. Only two other teams had fewer. That flaw was one of the main reasons why they finished the season 3-13 and drafted second in the 2018 NFL Draft.
But the Giants clearly addressed these issues in the offseason. They went out and signed the best left tackle on the market in Nate Solder and then added guard Patrick Omameh. In the NFL Draft, they spent the second pick on Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, who has already flashed his potential early in the preseason, and then used their second-round pick on guard Will Hernandez.
That means that Barkley is in really good position to succeed. When you consider that the Giants – as long as Eli Manning gets protection – should have a strong passing game, it should open plenty of lanes for Barkley. The Giants have one of the better receiving corps in the game with Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard and tight end Evan Engram.
Although last season only two running backs hit double digits for touchdowns, seven did in 2016 and six in 2015. Look for Barkley to be one of those in 2017.
We suggest backing Barkley going over 9.5 rushing touchdowns.
David Johnson’s 2016 season was nothing short of incredible. He broke the NFL record with 15 consecutive 100-yard games and totaled a whopping 2,118 all-purpose yards. 2017 proved very different, as a wrist injury cost him all but one game (and 11 rushing attempts). So can he get back to where he was? That’s what William Hill is asking with this prop. The initial sentiment here would have to be no.
For starters, the Cardinals were one of the better offenses in the NFL in 2016. Of course, Johnson was a big part of that, but as a team, they passed for 258.5 yards per game (ninth in the NFL) and scored 26.1 points per game (sixth in the NFL).
Arizona also had an impressive year from Carson Palmer, who passed for 4,233 yards, 26 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. The year before, he passed for 4,671 yards, 35 TDs and 11 INTs. That gives you an idea of where the team was.
Now they enter the season with Sam Bradford as their likely starter at quarterback. Beyond that, there are all sorts of question marks at wide receiver.
In 2016, Johnson flew under the radar early, and even as defenses tried to key in on him, the Cardinals were balanced enough to spread the ball around. Now Johnson is the guy that defenses will hone in on to stop first, and it’s unclear whether the Cards have enough weapons to force defenses away from that.
The Cardinals regular season win total sits at just 5.5 games – one of the lowest in the NFL. Clearly, not much is thought of this team. While they could surprise and be good, it’s hard to bet on Johnson posting another incredible season when there are so many question marks.
The bet here is Johnson going under 1,995.5 yards.
There are a number of good options for Comeback Player of the Year, namely Aaron Rodgers, David Johnson and Deshaun Watson. But we’re going to go off the board a little bit with this pick and go with a longshot.
Cook was a high draft pick who tore his ACL just four games into his rookie season. However, we got a taste of what he can do, as he averaged 4.8 rushing yards per carry and compiled 354 yards on just 74 totes for Minnesota.
The Vikings play defense and run the ball, which means Cook is in one of the best scenarios to pile up stats. And with the Vikings investing in a quarterback, and their wide receivers emerging last season, they now have a complete offense that he’ll be rejoining.
While Rodgers and Watson might be good bets here, we’ll take a flier with Cook, as it looks like there’s some value with him at 12/1.
This is an interesting prop to handicap as a different player has won the rushing title in each of the last five seasons. Kareem Hunt is the defending champ, but he’s sixth in line at +1200 according to the odds at William Hill. Playing with a second-year quarterback will hurt his cause.
Meanwhile, 2016 rushing champ Ezekiel Elliott is the current favorite at +333. However, the Dallas Cowboys passing game isn’t what it used to be. Defenses will stack the box to slow him down.
My pick is Todd Gurley of the Los Angeles Rams. While it may seem like an obvious choice, he has the best setting of any running back. He was 23 yards short of the title last year and returns to an offense that figures to be even better in 2018. More importantly, the defenses in the NFC West have degraded, so that really helps his cause.