You can bet on most anything in Las Vegas and who will win the NFL rushing title is no different. The odds are on the board for running backs, with fifteen considered to be reasonable enough shots to merit a number of 25-1 or less. Jamaal Charles of the Kansas City Chiefs is one of those backs, priced at 15-1.
Charles’ odds make him seventh on a list that’s headed by Arian Foster of the Houston Texans (7-2) and Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens (9-2). I find Rice’s high status a little strange. This is strictly about rushing yardage. And it’s not that Rice isn’t a solid back, but unless it becomes all-purpose yardage, it’s a stretch for him to win the title. Foster is a logical favorite—a talented back, a good offensive line and a good team that will mean there’s plenty of situations to just grind the clock down, all add up to a recipe for a rushing title. If we were picking straight up, I’d probably lean Foster as well, but 7-2 is a very short price and there’s a lot that can go wrong in a race like this one.
Adrian Peterson for the Minnesota Vikings is at 12-1, and while A.P. is past his prime, that’s a darkhorse worth looking into, if only because the Vikes will want to keep the pressure off Christian Ponder. But this is the reverse situation of Foster—there’s going to be plenty of situations where Minnesota can’t run the ball because they’ll have to play catch-up and unless you really believe in Ponder, there’s no reason for defensive coordinators not to stack the box when they play Minnesota.
The 15-1 price on Charles makes him a value longshot in this race. He’ll be the focal point of a run-oriented attack on a team with a good defense that’s at least going to be in games into the fourth quarter. The presence of Peyton Hillis likely hurts Charles more in Fantasy Leagues, by taking touchdowns in goal-line situations, rather than taking raw yardage. If Kansas City gets strong enough play at the quarterback spot to loosen up defenses and ensure their play-calling is designed to milk clock, Charles could cash in that 15-1 ticket.
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