NFL nut Kyle Robins (@AhhYeahKyleYeah) shares his expert opinion on the best bets available from Sunday night's wildcard encounter from Chicago.
NFL 2019/20: Rushing
Firstly, as with anything, it’s easy to look back on last year rushing figures to get a good gage on the market.
Ezekiel Elliott clocked up 1,434 rushing yards last season to take home the rushing title, and he’s favourite to repeat that feet again this year at 9/1. However, ever since Le’Veon Bell’s seemingly ‘trend setting’ holdout for the entirety of last season, top running backs, including Zeke appear to have taken notice.
Both himself and Chargers back Melvin Gordon still haven’t reported for their retrospective teams, and rumours coming out of Dallas today don’t seem to point towards Elliot returning anytime soon.
Given this as well as a possible Zeke suspension if he does return, it’s certainly blown the market wide open. Now the obvious next best choice is Giants stud Saquon Barkley (9/2). The second-year back totalled 1,307 rushing yards last year, finishing second only to Elliot, but it’s just unfortunate he applies his trade in New York, and teams could quit easily stack the box against the former Penn State man.
You’ll have to scroll a little bit further down this market to unearth who I’m leaning towards. This back finished fifth in rushing yards last year (1,151), and all signals point to an improvement on those numbers this year. That man is of course Seahawks back, Chris Carson.
Finishing last year with three 100+ yards games, his carries and usage really picked up as the season progressed. Now the hope is for him to well and truly lead the backfield, and have it be less of a comity approach. Averaging 4.7 yards per-carry on 247 attempts (57 less than Elliot) we should see those numbers go up this year, and given a clean run and full set of games (played 14 of a potential 16 last year) he could breakthrough in this market, and with the 33/1 floating around his name with Sportingbet, that price is certainly too good to ignore.
Two other decent outside shouts I really like the value of, are Browns back Nick Chubb (18/1) and Vikings star Dalvin Cook (25/1). Both are the prime backs in their respective teams, and should see an increase in usage this season.
Now, yardage, compared to touchdowns are assessed in a completely different manor. Whilst the elite backs in the league are assured to sit atop the rushing yard leaders, the ability for them to get touchdowns is sometimes out of their control. As I said, Zeke rushed for 1,434 yards last term, but could only turn that into six rushing touchdowns. So, the two don’t exactly go hand-in-hand. The key is finding that goal line back, who has a real nose for the End Zone, like Gurley did last year.
The avenue I'm going down in this market, leads me straight to the Steelers new lead back James Conner. The 24-year-old took the reins from Le’Veon Bell last year and did not disappoint, accumulating 12 rushing touchdowns on the year, and Im struggling to see any reason why that number won’t go up.
Not only is he the feature back in Pittsburgh, but given his size and power differential to the other backs the Steelers have, it’s safe to say he’ll see the majority of the goal line action. Pair that with the fact Ben Roethlisbergers favourite red zone target Antonio Brown now suits up for Oakland, the Steelers may look the pound the ball into the end zone more often than last season. And I for one am certainly taking up the 18/1 on offer with Unibet.
NFL 2019/20 – Most Rushing Yards: Chris Carson – (33/1 Sportingbet)
NFL 2019/20 – Most Rushing Touchdowns: James Conner (18/1 Unibet)