Top NFL Rushing Props To Bet: Week 1
Week 1 is finally here, and with it, we have the opportunity to exploit some questionable early-season lines that at times rely too heavily on 2020 trends. One of the best ways to do that is in the prop market, where we can find guys that are expected to have much larger or smaller roles than what the props suggest.
Here are my three favorite rushing props for Week 1.
James Robinson Under 68.5 rush yards (-105) - BETMGM
One of the key stats for James Robinson's big 2020 season was his unsustainably huge rush attempt share. In his 14 healthy games played, Robinson rushed 240 times, while other Jacksonville running backs combined for just 11 carries. That's not a typo.
With a new coaching staff taking over, Robinson isn't expected to be as clearly the lead back. Apart from the team's signal drafting Travis Etienne — who is now out for the season — in the first round, new coach Urban Meyer also brought in Carlos Hyde, who is expected to rotate alongside Robinson. So I do expect Robinson to be the clear lead, but again, other Jaguars backs averaged fewer than one rush attempt per game in games Robinson played last year. So we're going to see more of a split than that.
The other reason Robinson's prop is high is Jacksonville draws Houston in Week 1, and the Texans have been a train wreck all offseason. But the Jaguars are debuting a new offense under a new staff with a rookie quarterback and are only favored by three points on the road. They might wind up pretty run-heavy overall, but it's probably not fair to assume they'll run away with the game and have a ton of second-half rush attempts. The projections at Run The Sims agree, putting Robinson's median rushing yardage total at 50 and seeing the under hit in 77.5% of their hundreds of simulations.
Nyheim Hines Over 17.5 rush yards (-110) - DraftKings
The Colts open as home underdogs after a tumultuous offseason that featured major injuries to new quarterback Carson Wentz and top offensive lineman Quenton Nelson. Wentz is practicing in full, though, and Nelson got in a limited practice Thursday and could be ready for Week 1.
If the Colts do trail to Seattle, we know Hines tends to play more on passing downs. But Hines has been generating positive buzz throughout camp, and The Athletic had a piece last week focused on ways to get him the ball more. While he's thought of as more of a pass-catcher, Hines closed the 2020 season with at least five rush attempts in eight of nine games, including their playoff loss. That was notably the stretch that Jonathan Taylor came on and became a force. In other words, there's room for Hines to get a handful of rush attempts alongside Taylor.
Hines went over this 17.5 number six times in those final nine games of 2020, and all six times was more than 10 yards clear. He also rushed for 17 yards once. He was one yard shy of hitting it in seven of nine games. Add in the talk of additional work plus the potential negative script that could get him on the field for more snaps and potentially some cheap yardage on plays like 3rd-and-long draws, and you have to love this over.
Tony Jones Jr. Over 22.5 rush yards (-115) -DraftKings
After the release of Latavius Murray, the Saints head into Week 1 with unproven youngster Tony Jones Jr. as their No. 2 back. But the team reportedly loves him, and while they asked Murray for a pay cut, you have to read into the decision to let him go as at least something of a vote of confidence for Jones.
There's certainly a possibility now, with Murray gone, that Alvin Kamara takes on the heftiest rushing workload of his career. But the Saints also need Kamara in the passing game, where they are dangerously thin to start the season with Michael Thomas out. So we'll see snaps with both backs on the field, utilizing Kamara split out and Jones in the backfield.
This is a nice rush yard prop for Jones, especially because of their matchup against Green Bay. In recent seasons, the Packers have built their defense to be tough against the pass and almost compel opposing offenses to run the ball against them. With Drew Brees retired and the Saints starting Jameis Winston, you have to believe New Orleans is comfortable taking that bait. So I expect we'll see the Saints try to establish the run early and often and for Jones to take over the Murray role as the occasional straight-line, between-the-tackles runner that spells Kamara a decent amount. He likely won't be heavily involved in the passing game, and his role will simply be to gobble up some rushing yardage.
NFL Week 1 Rushing Prop Bets
- James Robinson Under 68.5 rush yards (-105) - BETMGM
- Nyheim Hines Over 17.5 rush yards (-110) - DraftKings
- Tony Jones Jr. Over 22.5 rush yards (-115) -DraftKings