Last year in the NFL, the top 7 touchdown scorers were all running backs, so the league leader is certainly coming from that position. With that, here are the top 5 picks, relative to their odds, to win the rushing touchdown crown this year.
#5 Raheem Mostert
He was in the top 10 last year with 9 scores and he wasn’t even the lead back in San Francisco. He had to share with Tevin Coleman, Matt Brieda, and even Jeff Wilson Jr. at times. Coleman and Wilson are still on the roster and Jerick McKinnon is healthy, but Mostert is now the clear lead in the Kyle Shanahan system which always bears a lot of fruit for running backs. He is the 7th favorite in the league and available at +1300. (FanDuel)
#4 Saquon Barkley
Barkley is the 3rd favorite in the league at +900, but he’s still a good bet. He was tied for 20th last year, but missed time with injury. For that reason, the Giants are going to be highly motivated to get the most out of him this year. Also, the Giants should be a better offense this year than they were last. They spent the first part of the season transitioning from Eli Manning to Daniel Jones. Jones had to go through his own rookie lumps. He should be a better engineer this year, which should mean more scoring opportunities for Barkley.
#3 Clyde Edwards-Helaire
Edwards-Helaire, like Mostert, is at +1300. Also like Mostert, that’s a good number for a clear lead back in a dominant offense. The Chiefs will move the ball at will behind Patrick Mahomes and routinely play games in the 30’s. We already got a flash of Edwards-Helaire in the Thursday night opener and his skills were clearly all they’re cracked up to be. It was a bit disappointing to see him struggle to push the ball into the end zone from the 1 yard line, from where he had numerous chances. But he still racked up yardage and scored from 27 yards out in the 3rd quarter. The fact that he got so many red zone chances is also a good sign.
#2 Ezekiel Elliott
I’m a little surprised the oddsmakers found 3 players they like better than Elliott for rushing touchdowns this year. He’s tied with Christian McCaffrey at +950, below three other backs: Barkley, Derrick Henry and Aaron Jones. In fact, Jones doesn’t make this list because he scored 16 times last year and it’s hard to imagine him repeating that. Elliott, however, found the paint 12 times last year and is in good position to build on that total. The Cowboys offense is loaded, they play in a weak division, and there is no competition for red zone carries.
#1 Josh Jacobs
Jacobs is the pick with the best odds. You can get him for +1800, which is a long number for a guy who rocked his rookie year. He ran for over 1100 yards and scored 7 times, all while missing 3 games due to injury. Jacobs is the only back Las Vegas will use close to the goal line and Jon Gruden is no play calling slouch. The Raiders should have a clearer picture of their identity this year now that Jacobs is in year 2.
Mid Tier worth a gamble
Conner is a strong bet to outperform his expectations this year. After playing only 10 games last year, he gets forgotten. But this year, he’s healthy and has been tabbed as the bell cow according to head coach Mike Tomlin. Even in his limited year last year, he scored 4 times. Also, Ben Roethlisberger is back healthy, meaning the Steelers will move the ball better. Conner has a juicy number at +2900.
Worthy long shot
The world is under the assumption that Jonathan Taylor is taking over the Colts backfield. Maybe they’re right, but the Colts keep trying to remind everyone that they really like Mack, who ran for over 1000 yards last year and scored 8 times in just 14 games. Colts reporters have gone so far as to say in the final week of camp that the Colts drafted Taylor just to ensure that Mack is healthy and energized for the 4th quarter each week. These are all really good signs for a guy who you can get at +5500.