NFL Player Props: The 5 Best Bets to Lead the League in Rushing Yards

I simulated the NFL season 10,000 times to see which rushers are most likely to lead the league in yardage. These ones emerged as the best betting values on FanDuel Sportsbook.

Before we know it, the 2022 NFL season will be kicking off, so it's time to get real about our player props.

FanDuel Sportsbook has its season-long NFL player prop bets posted for numerous markets, including most passing yards, most rushing yards, and most receiving yards.

Which of these players is offering the best value in those markets? That's what I want to find out.

So, that's why I'm leveraging numberFire's NFL player projections to see what I can uncover.

The Process

To take the process a step further, I'll be using numberFire's game-by-game projections for the 2022 NFL season.

I'll be using those as the basis for 10,000 season simulations. Of course, this means that the results will be tied closely to how our projections view the league as a whole.

That said, I made sure to account for game-by-game variance and injury risk (based on historical position averages) to make sure that the season simulations resemble reality.

Here are the results.

The Simulations

Running Back FanDuel
Derrick Henry +600 2,055
Jonathan Taylor
+600 1,835 14.4%
Dalvin Cook +900 1,401 6.7%
Nick Chubb +900 1,346 5.7%
Elijah Mitchell +1400 1,082 1.9%
Joe Mixon +1600 1,343 5.3%
Antonio Gibson +1600 1,183 2.9%
Najee Harris +1600 1,317 4.7%
Javonte Williams +2000 1,125 2.1%
Damien Harris +2000 1,004 1.2%
Ezekiel Elliott +2500 1,141 2.4%
Cam Akers +2500 1,139 2.4%
J.K. Dobbins +2500 988 1.0%
Austin Ekeler +3000 1,165 3.0%
Josh Jacobs +3000 1,140 2.5%
Rashaad Penny +3000 782 0.2%
Leonard Fournette +3000 1,087 2.1%
Devin Singletary +3000 787 0.2%
Lamar Jackson +4000 821 0.3%
Aaron Jones +4000 1,093 1.8%
Miles Sanders +4000 967 1.1%
Christian McCaffrey +4000 1,403 6.7%
Alvin Kamara +4000 1,112 2.3%
Breece Hall +4000 992 1.0%
David Montgomery +4000 1,169 2.5%
A.J. Dillon +5000 834 0.4%
D'Andre Swift +5000 1,130 1.9%
Ronald Jones +5000 726 0.2%
Travis Etienne +5000 764 0.1%
Saquon Barkley +5000 1,134 2.2%
Kenneth Walker III +5000 579 0.0%
Chris Carson +6000 297 0.0%
James Conner +7500 1,077 1.9%
James Robinson +7500 719 0.1%
Chase Edmonds +7500 718 0.1%
Raheem Mostert +7500 425 0.0%
Tony Pollard +7500 693 0.1%
Michael Carter +7500 586 0.0%
Melvin Gordon +7500 671 0.0%
Rhamondre Stevenson +7500 729 0.1%
James Cook +7500 471 0.0%

The Historical Precedent You Should Know

Since 2016, the eventual rushing leaders had been projected well by our model. Derrick Henry in 2020 and Ezekiel Elliott in 2018 were projected to lead the league in rushing and did. Jonathan Taylor in 2021 (5th), Henry in 2019 (4th), and Elliott in 2016 (8th) were all top-eight projected rushers.

The lone outlier, then, was Kareem Hunt in 2017 (projected for 16th) during his rookie season. So, even then, it's not like he was a total longshot. He was just projected for more of a committee role.

These past six rushers also played at least 15 games in the regular season, so availability is key. Not that we can bank on backs to stay healthy, but with games available so important (or more aptly games missed more damning), there's a wide range of outcomes from projections.

The 5 Best Bets to Lead the NFL in Rushing Yards in 2022

Derrick Henry (+600)
Our model likes Derrick Henry to lead the league in rushing for the third time in four seasons. He's projected for an astounding 2,055 yards, and it's easy to see why the projection is what it is.

Henry has no legitimate competition for carries, and if he stays healthy, he's going to be in the hunt for the league lead. I can get more into it than that, but he's within the top eight of projections (again, a key mark), and unlike most other backs in the NFL, he is a true featured back.

Even at +600, Henry is the second-best value bet in the simulations.

Jonathan Taylor (+600)
Last year's rushing leader, Jonathan Taylor, is projected for 1,835 yards himself. He and Henry are in a tier of their own. Their cases are very similar. If healthy, their claim to rushing work is effectively unanimous.

Taylor, who had 10 games with at least 100 rushing yards last season, is a fair betting value at +600, according to the simulations.

Christian McCaffrey (+4000)
Did somebody say something about staying healthy as a running back? We all know by now that Christian McCaffrey's health is a key variable in this projection. He has played 10 total games across the past two seasons.

Optimistically, that means a lot of recovery time has been baked in after a 403-touch campaign in 2019.

Ultimately, McCaffrey is projected to rank third in the league in rushing yards, and in the simulations, he ends up rating out as the best betting value.

David Montgomery (+4000)
David Montgomery is projected to rank ninth in the NFL in rushing yards this season, so he is right on that upper range of projections without getting a little too overzealous with our bets here.

While playing in one of the most run-heavy offenses in the NFL, Montgomery's path to a league-leading season revolves around availability. He had at least 10 rushes in all 13 of his active games last season with a 17-game pace of 280 carries for 1,190 yards.

James Conner (+7500)
The data isn't big on long shots to lead the league in rushing, but James Conner is projected to rank 21st in that category in 2022. Yes, that's lower than the low-water mark of 16th over the past six seasons that we've seen for an eventual leader, yet he's within 25 yards of a top-16 projection.

Conner, after signing a three-year extension with the Arizona Cardinals, should have a claim to plenty of work. The sims show value on him; just don't get carried away.