Player Props: Best NFL Running Back Yardage Bets
We need all the distractions we can get these days with sports and just about everything else on hiatus. After all, Tiger King is only seven episodes long!
We can always look ahead to the future at least, and FanDuel Sportsbook now has a boatload of NFL player props up, including yardage props for quarterbacks, running backs, and pass catchers.
Today, let's check out the combined rushing/receiving yards props for running backs. At -112 odds on either side, you simply pick whether a specific player will go over or under the listed number for their regular season rushing-plus-receiving yards. Teams must play a full 16-game schedule for bets to stand.
Using numberFire Editor-in-Chief JJ Zacharasian's player projections as a guide, let's see which props provide the most value.
Christian McCaffrey (2099.5 yards)
Christian McCaffrey is coming off an incredible campaign, becoming just the third player in NFL history to compile 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving in the same season. His 2,392 yards from scrimmage were not only the most in the NFL but the third-most all time. McCaffrey will be just 24 years old in June and remains at the peak of his powers, so another stellar effort should be in store for 2020.
But betting on him to surpass this prop is a dicey proposition. While he doesn't have to reach his historic mark from last season, only 45 players have ever surpassed 2099.5 yards from scrimmage. Among active players, it's only been done six times.
When a player is coming off this sort of career year, they're much more likely to regress than repeat, and in McCaffrey's case, that includes his massive volume. In 2019, McCaffrey tallied a whopping 403 touches and 1,056 total snaps. For context, Ezekiel Elliott was the only other back to hit 350 touches (355), and Elliott and Leonard Fournette were the only others to reach 900 snaps.
To achieve those heights, McCaffrey led all running backs in snap rate (93.4%) and averaged 17.9 rushes and 8.9 targets per game. Not only is there some concern about wearing down, but just duplicating that level of usage isn't a guarantee, particularly in today's NFL.
JJ's early projections agree, with McCaffrey taking a slight step back in both touches (356.7) and total yards (1965.8). That would still be a damn good season, yet it comes up short of this prop by 133.7 yards.
Pick: Under 2099.5 yards
Saquon Barkley (1749.5 yards)
Saquon Barkley had a somewhat disappointing 2019, but much of that was due to a high-ankle sprain he suffered in Week 3, which caused him to miss three games and seemed to limit his effectiveness until the last few weeks of the season.
Despite all of that, he still finished with 1,441 yards from scrimmage and was the RB10 in standard fantasy leagues. He averaged 110.9 total yards over his 13 games, which would've amounted to 1,774 if extrapolated over a full 16-game campaign.
New York signed Dion Lewis this offseason, but there's little reason to think Barkley won't be a bell cow for the Giants again this year. Lewis turns 30 in September and was an afterthought behind Derrick Henry in 2019. Even if he gets some passing-down snaps, his impact should be minimal at best.
With that in mind, Barkley is a strong bet to hit the over on this prop. Let's not forget that he piled up 2,028 yards his rookie year, which would blow this number away, and even a hobbled Barkley was on pace to beat it on a per-game basis. Although his overall opportunities dipped in 2019, he still averaged 16.7 rushes and 5.6 targets per game, and he was one of just five running backs to average a snap rate above 80%. He was sixth in touches despite missing time, too.
The over is also backed by JJ's projection, which pegs Barkley for 1,804.3 yards.
Pick: Over 1749.5 yards
Le'Veon Bell (1359.5 yards)
Over 15 games, Bell averaged 21.5 opportunities per game (16.3 rushes and 5.2 targets), which wasn't far off from guys like Barkley (22.3) or Ezekiel Elliott (23.2). Bell also ranked fifth among running backs in snap rate (83%) and was eighth in touches (311).
Despite all that volume, it only amounted to 1,250 yards from scrimmage, though much of the blame also goes to an offensive line that struggled pretty much across the board. Additionally, there's the concern that his tenuous relationship with head coach Adam Gase could affect his future role.
That being said, revamping the offensive line has been a primary focus in free agency, and the Jets aren't exactly ripe with playmakers outside of Bell. He figures to be a primary weapon for them by default, and JJ's projections are actually rather bullish on him at 1,531.4 total yards. That projection could decrease depending on who New York adds in the draft, but Bell's yardage prop is low enough that he doesn't need to improve all that much to hit this over.
Pick: Over 1359.5 yards