Most NFL Rushing Yards in 2019: Top-Dozen Odds and Predictions

Though the passing game in the NFL gets a lot of press these days, it’s having a dependable rushing attack that saves teams on the icy fields in November in December, and every season one running back earns the honor of being the league’s rushing leader.

Last year’s winner is this season’s odds-on favorite, challenged closely by a young superstar back who last year in his rookie season set all sorts of NFL and franchise records.

The key to winning this prestigious rushing title is getting snaps and staying healthy, and here we examine the top twelve candidates for the honor and analyze each of their odds and predictions for becoming the NFL Total Rushing Yards Champ of 2019.

Here Are the Current Top-Dozen Odds and Predictions Listed for Which NFL Athlete Will Have the Most Rushing Yards in 2019:

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12) Marlon Mack, Indianapolis Colts

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Current Age: 23

Total NFL Seasons: 2

Height: 6-foot-0 

Weight: 210-pounds

Number of games played in 2018: 12

2018 Rushing Stats Line: Ran the ball 195 times for 908 yards for an average of 4.7 yards per carry and 9 touchdowns with 2 fumbles.

Analysis: Keep in mind that Marlon Mack only played in 12 games during the 2018 season and still managed to post 908 total rushing yards, so if he can stay healthy in 2019, he has a decent shot at winning this title.

Helping to create running lanes for Mack this season is the young offensive line that third-year general manager Chris Ballard has been assembling, including two All-Rookies from last season, left guard Quenton Nelson, who was also selected as a First-team All-Pro, and right tackle Braden Smith.

Last season the rushing attack of Indianapolis left much to be desired, ranking 20th in the league after averaging just 107.4 yards per game on the ground, so if Mack expects to lead the league in rushing yards in 2019, then second-year offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni has to game plan to keep Mack safe and use him more often than the 195 times he ran the ball in 2018.

11) Kerryon Johnson, Detroit Lions

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Current Age: 22  

Total NFL Seasons: 1

Height: 5-foot-11

Weight: 206-pounds

Number of games played in 2018: 10

2018 Rushing Stats Line: Ran the ball 118 times for 641 yards for an average of 5.4 yards per carry and 3 touchdowns with 1 fumble.

Analysis: Last year during Kerryon Johnson’s rookie season, the Detroit Lions’ rushing attack went from featuring LeGarrette Blount as the starter in the first three games to Johnson as the starter in Week 4 after he rushed for 101 yards in Week 3, becoming the first Lions running back to top 100 yards in a game since Reggie Bush did it in 2013.

Proving he can also catch the ball, Johnson’s role in Detroit expanded over the course of the 2018 season until he sprained his knee in Week 11 and missed the next four games.

Johnson’s average of 5.4 yards per carry means he is the real deal, so if new offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell can begin to build a better game plan around Johnson and the Lions’ rushing attack can improve from their 23rd ranking in 2018, Johnson has a decent or better shot at competing for the 2019 rushing yards title.

10) James Conner, Pittsburgh Steelers

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Current Age: 24

Total NFL Seasons: 2

Height: 6-foot-1

Weight: 233-pounds

Number of games played in 2018: 13

2018 Rushing Stats Line: Ran the ball 215 times for 973 yards for an average of 4.5 yards per carry and 12 touchdowns with 4 fumbles.

Analysis: Running back James Conner barely missed making the list of top ten rushers last season, but now that he is on the third year of a four-year, $3.16 million contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers, he is expected to have a big season in 2019 and therefore becomes the tenth ranked pick in this competition.

The good news for Conner is that he will be playing an important role in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense while his team is rebounding in 2019 after two huge breakups – with running back Le’Veon Bell, who left for the New York Jets after sitting out last season over money issues, and with wide receiver Antonio Bell, who was surprisingly traded in the offseason to the Oakland Raiders after voicing his displeasure with his offensive role and skipping meetings to make his point.

The bad news for Conner is that the Steelers’ offensive line was only ranked 31st in total rushing yards (with 1,445) last season and they have basically remained the same group, so Conner will now have to excel with the same situation, but the miracle kid has already proven he has the skills and confidence to get the job done.

9) Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks

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Current Age: 24

Total NFL Seasons: 2

Height: 6-foot-0 

Weight: 227-pounds

Number of games played in 2018: 14

2018 Rushing Stats Line: Ran the ball 247 times for 1,151 yards for an average of 4.7 yards per carry and 9 touchdowns with 3 fumbles.

Analysis: The Seattle Seahawks’ Chris Carson was the fifth-ranked running back in the league last season, so it is definitely curious why his odds of winning the title in 2019 are only ranked ninth.

The Seahawks’ rushing attack was the best in the league last year, totaling 2,560 yards, but now the squad will be performing without guard J.R. Sweezy, who was lost to free agency, so in 2019 it will be up to newly signed left guard Mike Iupati to get that job done.

It will be offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer’s second season with the Seahawks and Carson’s third, so it makes sense that they will begin to build the rushing attack in Seattle around him, possibly making Carson the best bet and biggest payoff in this list to take a run at this yards rushing title.

8) Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns

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Current Age: 23

Total NFL Seasons: 1

Height: 5-foot-11

Weight: 227-pounds

Number of games played in 2018: 16

2018 Rushing Stats Line: Ran the ball 192 times for 996 yards for an average of 5.2 yards per carry and 8 touchdowns with 0 fumbles.

Analysis: The biggest problem for Nick Chubb on the 2019 Cleveland Browns will be getting his fair share of snaps, a task made difficult by the company he keeps in the running back room – dual threats Duke Johnson Jr. and Dontrell Hilliard, as well as their offseason grab, Kareem Hunt, who will not get to suit up until Week 9 due to suspension.

Chubb actually broke the thousand-yard mark last season when he hit 1,001 yards in Week 17 against the Ravens, but then a five-yard loss took him back down to 996 yards and because of the nature of the Browns’ comeback attempt in the final quarter of that game, Chubb’s number was not called on again.

The good news is that Chubb plays for the Browns and they play in icy Cleveland, so when the weather starts to get cold at the end of October and November and December and the passing game starts to slow down, count on hard-hitting Chubb’s number getting called often and in that last exciting part of the 2019 season he will make a run for this title.

7) Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams

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Current Age: 24

Total NFL Seasons: 4

Height: 6-foot-1 

Weight: 224-pounds

Number of games played in 2018: 14

2018 Rushing Stats Line: Ran the ball 256 times for 1,251 yards for an average of 4.9 yards per carry and 17 touchdowns with 1 fumble.

Analysis: The odds makers understand that last year’s third leading rusher, Los Angeles Rams’ Todd Gurley, is beginning to wear down, possibly from arthritis in his knee, so chances are head coach Sean McVay will be smart and not use him quite as often in 2019.

It will be tough not to overuse the 2x First-team All-Pro and 3x Pro Bowler who for the last two seasons has been the NFL rushing touchdowns leader, but if the Rams want Gurley to still deliver the goods in the postseason, they will let backups Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson handle the ball more often.

Dual threat Gurley will no doubt end up with respectable rushing and receiving numbers in 2019, especially when they are combined, but most likely his totals won’t be as mind blowing or record breaking as his body slowly begins to pay the price of all the football hits it has been taking.

6) Melvin Gordon, Los Angeles Chargers               +1600

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Current Age: 26

Total NFL Seasons: 4

Height: 6-foot-1

Weight: 215-pounds

Number of games played in 2018: 12

2018 Rushing Stats Line: Ran the ball 175 times for 885 yards for an average of 5.1 yards per carry and 10 touchdowns with 1 fumble.

Analysis: The only problem with Melvin Gordon is that he’s a dual-threat back so though his overall numbers from scrimmage will most likely be huge in 2019, his rushing numbers alone might not win overall, something that happened last season when he ranked just 17th in total rushing yards.

Gordon’s offensive line hasn’t changed this offseason, a group that last year rushed for the seventh most touchdowns (16) in the league, though they only averaged 117.1 yards on the ground per game.

Fourth-year offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt has no plans to overuse Gordon, but something different does have to get done in 2019 to improve a rushing attack ranked just 15th last season, so expect Gordon to get fed the ball enough to take a run at this rushing yards title.

5) Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals

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Current Age: 22 

Total NFL Seasons: 2

Height: 6-foot-1  

Weight: 237-pounds

Number of games played in 2018: 14

2018 Rushing Stats Line: Ran the ball 237 times for 1,168 yards for an average of 4.9 yards per carry and 8 touchdowns with 0 fumbles.

Analysis: Playing for the AFC North last place Cincinnati Bengals has not given running back Joe Mixon a lot of exposure, but the dual-threat running back quietly posted the fourth most rushing yards last season with 1,168.

This year, though, Mixon is playing under a new head coach, Zac Taylor, and a new offensive coordinator, Brian Callahan, so it might be a season of trial and error for the group, though with Mixon’s ability to run after the catch it won’t be surprising to see him become a critical part of the newly worked offense.

Despite the Bengals having a 21st ranked rushing attack last season, Mixon was able to put up impressive numbers, so if Cincinnati can play better with an offensive line bolstered by first round pick Jonah Williams at tackle, Mixon  should be in the running once again for the rushing totals title in 2019.

4) Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans

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Current Age: 25

Total NFL Seasons: 3

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 247-pounds

Number of games played in 2018: 16

2018 Rushing Stats Line: Ran the ball 215 times for 1,059 yards for an average of 4.9 yards per carry and 12 touchdowns with 1 fumble.

Analysis: In 2019, Derrick Henry will be working without the great Matt LaFleur as his coordinator, and he will have to learn how to play well with the new guy, Arthur Smith, the former tight ends coach, so it will be up to Henry to prove his run game is unaffected by all that.

Henry, the former Heisman Trophy winner, has improved in each of his three NFL seasons, and in 2018, his second year, he posted enough rushing yards (1,059) to finish ranked seventh overall among his mostly veteran peers.

The offensive line that Henry has become used to has changed, the Titans having lost guards Josh Kline and Quinton Spain to free agency, and now with newly signed left guard Rodger Saffold in the mix, Henry will have to prove that all the distractions in the world won’t keep him from getting better once again and taking a serious run at the 2019 rushing yards title.

3) Le’Veon Bell, New York Jets

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Current Age: 27

Total NFL Seasons: 5

Height: 6-foot-1

Weight: 225-pounds

Number of games played in 2018: 0, Missed season – Contract Dispute

Number of games played in 2017: 15

2017 Rushing Stats Line: Ran the ball 321 times for 1,291 yards for an average of 4.0 yards per carry and 9 touchdowns with 3 fumbles.

Analysis: In the old days of the NFL, if a player had skipped an entire season like running back Le’Veon Bell did in 2018, his career would most likely be over, but the well-rested Bell plays in the modern era, of course, and after reportedly training on his own during that missed time, he and the New York Jets are betting on him being just as good or better a football player than ever.

The Jets had a 26th ranked rushing attack last season, so pretty much any attempt at improving would help, but scoring a dual-threat running back like Bell could literally turn their run (and pass) game around, so expect him to get a lot of touches in his return season.

It might take a few runs or even a few games for Bell to knock the dust off his moves, but given that the Jets’ run offense only averaged 101.4 total yards per game last season and posted just eleven total rushing touchdowns, tied for 23rd in the league, whatever Bell does will in comparison be amazing.

2) Saquon Barkley, New York Giants

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Current Age: 22

Total NFL Seasons: 1

Height: 6-foot-0

Weight: 233-pounds

Number of games played in 2018: 16

2018 Rushing Stats Line: Ran the ball 261 times for 1,307 yards for an average of 5.0 yards per carry and 11 touchdowns with 0 fumbles.

Analysis: The big question for second-year running back sensation Saquon Barkley is, can he follow his own rookie season, when he was selected to go to the Pro-Bowl, made First-team All-Pro, was named NFL Rookie of the Year and NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and the PFWA All-Rookie Team?

New York Giants interim general manager David Gettleman believes the answer is absolutely yes, and has spent the offseason attempting to build the roster around his young, quads-heavy superstar, including trading for talented right guard Kevin Zeitler.

With a likely battle under center in 2019 between veteran quarterback Eli Manning and rookie Daniel Jones, the Giants’ offense may count on Barkley even more than it did last season, plus add to that the loss of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. as a primary target and most likely Barkley’s touches should increase in 2019 as well as his rushing yards total.

1) Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys

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Current Age: 23 

Total NFL Seasons: 3

Height: 6-foot-0  

Weight: 228-pounds

Number of games played in 2018: 15

2018 Rushing Stats Line: Ran the ball 304 times for 1,434 yards for an average of 4.7 yards per carry and 6 touchdowns with 6 fumbles.

Analysis: In 2018, the Dallas Cowboys ranked tenth in the league in total rushing yards with almost 2,000 and running back Ezekiel Elliott accounted for over 1,400 of them, which was enough to win him the title of most rushing yards in the NFL last season.

No reason to doubt that the young dual-threat back won’t do it again, especially because Elliott is running behind one of the better offensive lines in the NFL that features First-team All-Pro right guard Zack Martin and veteran center Travis Frederick.

Quarterback Dak Prescott and Elliott ran a rushing attack last year that ended up being the tenth best in the league after averaging 122.7 yards on the ground per game, so expect head coach Jason Garrett and new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore to do much of the same with Elliott, whose 304 total carries led the league in 2018.