For many years in the late-2000s and early-2010s, most teams in the NFL went to two-back or three-back systems. The theory made some sense. Running backs aren’t built to run the ball 300 times a year, and in a day and age of specialization across all sports, having a third-down back, a power back and a scat back made a lot of sense.
But now, the NFL is trending back toward the idea of predominantly one-back systems. Young running backs can be exhausted over their first five seasons under team control before hitting free agency, and by then, the players could be considered relatively useless.
What that’s giving us is a lot more in the way of big numbers for running backs. Ezekiel Elliott was the showcase back in the league last year with his 1,631 yards, and he figures to be in for another big season in 2017. The second-year man from Ohio State has an over/under of 1,550.5 yards in the new seasons, though if you want to bet the over, it’ll cost you -160 vig. Think that Elliott is going to rush for 2,000 yards? That can pay you a whopping price of 10 to 1.
Part of the reason there wasn’t another 1,500-yard back in 2016 was due to the fact that three of the top five rushers in the NFL, Jordan Howard, Jay Ajayi and Le’Veon Bell weren’t the feature backs for their teams at the beginning of the season.
In the case of Bell, he rushed for 1,268 yards in just 12 games. He was suspended for the first three games of the season and missed one more due to injury in the middle of the campaign, and he was still one of the top backs both in rushing and in receiving.
The Steelers though, made it a point to run Bell into the ground. It was the final year of his contract in 2016, and he had the rock in his hands an average of 28 times per game when he was on the field. Can he keep that up in 2017 for a full 16 games? With James Conner now in the mix, he may or may not have that option.
Still, BookMaker.eu has released Bell at a total of 1,100.5 total yards from scrimmage. For a man who averaged 157.0 yards per game last season and 128.7 yards per game for his career, you’d think that averaging 68.8 scrimmage yards per game wouldn’t be an issue. But if you want to play the over, the price is -300. That’s a hefty price to pay in the NFL when an injury could happen at any given moment. Keep in mind that Bell had offseason groin injury, and you just never know if that’s the type of thing that could end up lingering.
The regular season rushing record is one that Eric Dickerson has held for 33 seasons. His 2,105 yards in 1984 is a mark that will be borderline insane to touch.
Consider Adrian Peterson’s 2012 season in which he had 2,097 yards. He averaged 6.0 yards per carry that year and still came 18 yards shy of Dickerson. AP averaged 21.8 carries per game that year.
The total number of running backs who averaged more than 21 carries per game last season? One. Bell.
The total number of running backs who averaged more than 5.5 yards per carry last season? One. Mike Gillislee – and he did so on just 101 carries.
To average both 22 carries per game and 6.0 yards per carry would be just about unheard of.
That said, Elliott could take a huge step in the right direction this season, or we could see someone else play a massive role in his team’s backfield. Will anyone break Dickerson’s record? We’d guess not, but if so, it would pay off at a price of 10 to 1.
(Odds courtesy of Bookmaker.eu)
2017 NFL Running Back Props
Will any player break the single-season rushing record of 2,105 yards during 2017-18 NFL regular season?
Will any player break the single-season all-purpose yards record of 2,696 yards during 2017-18 NFL regular season?
Will Ezekiel Elliott rush for 2,000 yards during 2017-18 NFL regular season?
Ezekiel Elliott total rushing yards during 2017-18 NFL regular season
Over 1550.5 (-160)
Under 1550.5 (+130)
Ezekiel Elliott total rushing touchdowns during 2017-18 NFL regular season
Over 13.5 (+120)
Under 13.5 (-150)
Will LeSean McCoy rush for 2,000 yards during 2017-18 NFL regular season?
Will Le’Veon Bell rush for 2,000 yards during 2017-18 NFL regular season?
Le’Veon Bell total rushing + receiving yards during 2017-18 NFL regular season
Over 1100.5 (+120)
Under 1100.5 (-150)
Le’Veon Bell total rushing + receiving touchdowns during 2017-18 NFL regular season
Over 8 (+155)
Under 8 (-200)
Check out the latest NFL live lines for 2017-18 season.