Kansas City Chiefs rookie Kareem Hunt surprised everybody last year by leading the NFL in rushing with 1,327 yards. The third-round pick out of Toledo seized control of the Chiefs’ starting job and never looked back.
It’ll be interesting to see if Hunt can make it back to back seasons in being the leading rusher. Nobody has done this since LaDanian Tomlinson pulled off the feat in 2006 and ’07.
Let’s discuss whether or not Hunt can be the first back to lead the NFL in rushing for consecutive seasons since Tomlinson. I’ll also cover the betting odds on each running back’s chances of being the league leader
Odds on 2018 NFL Leader Rusher
Below you can see the GTBets odds on the top running backs’ chances of taking the rushing title. Note that these odds will be available until the start of the 2018 regular season:
- Ezekiel Eiiott +320
- Field (all others) +500
- LeVeon Bell +500
- Todd Gurley +600
- Saquon Barkley +800
- Leonard Fournette +850
- Kareem Hunt +1000
- David Johnson +1200
- Melvin Gordon +1500
- Jordan Howard +1500
- Dalvin Cook +1500
Analysis on Potential 2018 NFL Rushing Leaders
Ezekiel Elliott led the NFL in rushing with over 1,600 yards two years ago. It’s very possible that he could’ve done the same again in 2017 had he not been suspended for a domestic violence issue.
As it stands, Elliott rushed for 983 yards in just 10 games. At this pace, he would’ve easily topped 1,500 rushing yards. The only worry is that his yards per carry dropped from 5.1 to 4.1 last year.
Le’Veon Bell +500
Le’Veon Bell is quite possibly the best dual-thread running back in the league. He also puts up strong rushing totals, as evidenced by his 1,291 yards on the ground in 2017.
Unfortunately, Bell is still in a contract dispute with the Steelers. And it doesn’t look like he’ll be reporting to camp anytime soon. That said, Le’Veon isn’t a great bet at +500 right now.
Todd Gurley finished just behind Hunt for the league’s rushing title last season with 1,305. Gurley and the Rams will once again have an extremely strong offense.
This being the case, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Gurley take a step forward and break the 1,400 or 1,500-yard barrier.
Saquon Barkley (+800)
A rookie has led the league in rushing for the past two seasons. And former Penn State RB Saquon Barkley is the rookie favorite to keep this trend going.
Barkley is much like Bell in that he’s a dual-threat running back who also catches a lot passes. But if the Giants decide to feature him on the ground a lot this year, expect him to also rack up plenty of rushing yards.
Leonard Fournette was still able to top the 1,000-yard mark despite missing three games with an injury. He also looked well on his way towards the Pro Bowl before injuries set in.
There’s no guarantee that Fournette can go through 2018 completely healthy. But he’ll definitely make a strong case for the rushing title as long as he doesn’t get hurt.
Kareem Hunt (+1000)
As mentioned earlier, nobody expected Kareem Hunt to go from third round draft pick to leading the NFL in rushing yardage. But the former Toledo product was unfazed as he topped the 1300-yard mark.
He should once again be in for a strong campaign in 2018. But it’s worth mentioning that Hunt had the lowest yardage total for a league leading rusher since Barry Sanders in 1990 (1,304 yards).