I recently wrapped up my 2021 Betting Previews for all 32 teams and I’d encourage you to check them out for in-depth breakdowns of season win totals, Super Bowl odds, individual players props, and much more. With those previews out of the way, it’s time to take a look at the odds for the season-long leaders in the major offensive categories to see if I can’t pick out a winner or two. Everyone likes to lay a little bit of money to win a lot of money, and I’ve come up with my favorite plays for each of the major leader futures for passers, runners, and receivers.
The chalk paid out in the major rushing categories last season with Derrick Henry taking home the titles in both rushing yards (2027) at +700 odds and in rushing touchdowns (17) at +400 odds. Henry comes into this season as the big favorite to take down both titles once again but the likes of Dalvin Cook, Nick Chubb, Christian McCaffrey, and a host of others will try to track him down.
Note: The odds in this article are courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook — under NFL/Player Futures.
|Year||Running Back (Age)||Rushing Yards|
|2020||Derrick Henry, Ten (26)||2027|
|2019||Derrick Henry, Ten (25)||1540|
|2018||Ezekiel Elliott, Dal (23)||1434|
|2017||Kareem Hunt, Cle (22)||1327|
|2016||Ezekiel Elliott, Dal (21)||1631|
|2015||Adrian Peterson, Min (30)||1485|
|2014||DeMarco Murray, Dal (26)||1845|
|2013||LeSean McCoy, Phi (25)||1607|
|2012||Adrian Peterson, Min (27)||2097|
|2011||Maurice Jones-Drew, Jax (26)||1606|
Fantasy Points Projections Top 10
|Derrick Henry, Ten||1515||+350|
|Nick Chubb, Cle||1395||+700|
|Dalvin Cook, Min||1365||+550|
|Ezekiel Elliott, Dal||1285||+1600|
|Jonathan Taylor, Ind||1280||+900|
|Christian McCaffrey, Car||1195||+1000|
|Antonio Gibson, Was||1185||+1800|
|J.K. Dobbins, Bal||1180||+2200|
|Joe Mixon, Cin||1100||+2000|
|Josh Jacobs, LV||1095||+3000|
Derrick Henry (+350) is coming off the NFL’s first 2000-yard rushing season since Adrian Peterson ran for 2097 yards for the Vikings back in 2012. It’s no surprise that King Henry is once again the big favorite to bring home his third straight rushing title. History is working against him, though, as no player has won three straight rushing titles since Emmitt Smith did it back 1991-93. Barry Sanders (1996-97), Edgerrin James (1999-2000), and LaDainian Tomlinson (2006-07) each fell short in their attempts to bring home three straight titles since Smith last did it nearly 30 years ago.
Dalvin Cook (+550) has the best odds to chase down Henry after he averaged 5.0 YPC and topped 300 carries for the first time in his career at 25 years old. Nick Chubb (+700) is my favorite bet of the top contenders with his career 5.2 YPC average. Chubb will look to turn the tables on Henry this season after Henry nudged out Chubb for the rushing title in the final game of 2019. The fourth-year pro has one of the league’s best offensive lines in front of him, and the Browns have one of the league’s friendliest schedules, which should lead to plenty of positive game scripts for Chubb this season. The biggest concern is that Kareem Hunt (+8000) will keep him from getting into the 18-20 carries per game range. Chubb is as high as +850 at FanDuel to win the rushing title.
Jonathan Taylor (+900) and Christian McCaffrey (+1000) round out the top-five favorites to lead the league in rushing, but I’m looking a little farther down the board for a longer odds bet. David Montgomery (+3000) averaged 19.3/99.7/1.2 rushing per game in Chicago’s final six contests and the backfield has been thinned out a bit with Tarik Cohen struggling to return from last year’s ACL injury. There’s a chance HC Matt Nagy decides to keep riding his third-year back after he excelled with volume last season, and the addition of the mobile Justin Fields could help him improve upon his 4.3 YPC from last season. Montgomery is as high as +5000 at Caesar’s to win the rushing title. Damien Harris (+6500) is also worth a look at much longer odds on the off-chance OC Josh McDaniels fully commits to him over Sony Michel and Rhamondre Stevenson after Harris averaged 5.0 YPC in his first significant NFL action.
|Year||Running Back (Age)||Rushing TDs|
|2020||Derrick Henry, Ten (26)||17|
|2019||D. Henry, Ten (25)/A. Jones, GB (24)||16|
|2018||Todd Gurley, LAR (24)||17|
|2017||Todd Gurley, LAR (23)||13|
|2016||LeGarrette Blount, NE (29)||18|
|2015||D. Freeman, Atl (23)/J. Hill, Cin (22)/A. Peterson, Min (30)/D. Williams, Car (32)||11|
|2014||M. Lynch, Sea (28)/D. Murray, Dal (26)||13|
|2013||J. Charles, KC (26)/M. Lynch, Sea (27)||12|
|2012||Arian Foster, Hou (26)||15|
|2011||LeSean McCoy, Phi (23)||17|
Fantasy Points Projections Top 10
|Derrick Henry, Ten||16||+450|
|Dalvin Cook, Min||13||+450|
|Ezekiel Elliott, Dal||12||+1400|
|Nick Chubb, Cle||11||+800|
|Christian McCaffrey, Car||11||+800|
|Jonathan Taylor, Ind||10||+800|
|Antonio Gibson, Was||10||+1800|
|J.K. Dobbins, Bal||10||+2000|
|Najee Harris, Pit||10||+4000|
Derrick Henry (+450) finished with the second-most rushing touchdowns in the last decade with 17 scores last season, which ranks behind only LeGarrette Blount’s 18-touchdown performance in 2016. He’s looking to three-peat as the rushing touchdown leader after he shared the honors with Aaron Jones (+1600) in 2019 with 16 touchdowns. Jones has the fourth-most rushing touchdowns since 2018 but he could have more competition for goal-line carries with A.J. Dillon (+10000) taking over the #2 RB role from Jamaal Williams (+10000).
Henry comes into the 2021 season as the co-favorite to score the most rushing touchdowns with Dalvin Cook (+450), who has scored 29 times on the ground in 28 games the last two seasons. As I laid out above, I’m bullish on Nick Chubb (+800) emerging as a clear threat to Henry’s reign as the NFL’s premier runner. The Browns’ offense started to hit its stride late in Kevin Stefanski’s first season, averaging 29.4 points per game in their final eight games (playoffs included) with Chubb scoring seven rushing TDs in their final six regular games. Chubb is as high as +900 at Caesar’s to score the most rushing touchdowns.
Chubb is tied with Jonathan Taylor (+800) and Christian McCaffrey (+800) to lead the league in rushing touchdowns. Both the Panthers and the Colts finished inside the top-five in run-rate inside the five-yard line last season, and Carolina skewed heavily toward the run with CMC in the lineup for just three games. Darrell Henderson (+3000) is an interesting longer shot after the Rams led the league in carries inside the five-yard line, but HC Sean McVay could throw a bit more at the goal line with a quarterback he trusts.
Ezekiel Elliott (+1400) is one of the best values on the board, and he’s as long as +2000 at FanDuel. He matched a career-worst six rushing touchdowns last season with Dak Prescott appearing in just five games, but a positive touchdown regression should be coming his way. Zeke ranked dead last in TD rate inside the five-yard line at 19% among 26 players that finished with 10+ carries. The average TD rate for those 26 backs sat at 41%, which means Zeke would’ve scored 10.7 times on his goal-line carriers if he performed at that rate.
Trey Sermon (+10000) really jumped off the page as a value when I compared our projections to the odds. San Francisco’s third-round pick is an extreme longshot for a reason in the 49ers’ crowded backfield, but he has an outside shot to compete for the rushing touchdown lead if he can win the goal-line duties in potentially one of the league’s higher scoring offenses. Raheem Mostert (+10000) failed to convert any of his six goal-line carries into touchdowns last season and their best goal-line option from 2020, Jeff Wilson, is a candidate to miss at least the first six games this season.
Nick Chubb (Cle) most rushing yards (+850, FanDuel). Risk one unit to win 8.5 units
David Montgomery (Chi) most rushing yards (+5000, Caesars). Risk half a unit to win 25 units.
Nick Chubb (Cle) most rushing touchdowns (+900, Caesars). Risk one unit to win nine units.
Ezekiel Elliott (Dal) most rushing touchdowns (+2000, FanDuel). Risk half a unit to win 10 units.
Trey Sermon (SF) most rushing touchdowns (+10000, DraftKings). Risk .25 units to win 25 units.