Before we know it, the 2022 NFL season will be kicking off, so it's time to get real about our player props.
Which of these players is offering the best value in those markets? That's what I want to find out.
So, that's why I'm leveraging numberFire's NFL player projections to see what I can uncover.
To take the process a step further, I'll be using numberFire's game-by-game projections for the 2022 NFL season.
I'll be using those as the basis for 10,000 season simulations. Of course, this means that the results will be tied closely to how our projections view the league as a whole.
That said, I made sure to account for game-by-game variance and injury risk (based on historical position averages) to make sure that the season simulations resemble reality.
Here are the results.
|Kenneth Walker III||+5000||579||0.0%|
The Historical Precedent You Should Know
Since 2017, the eventual rushing leaders had been projected well by our model. Derrick Henry in 2020 and Ezekiel Elliott in 2018 were projected to lead the league in rushing and did. Jonathan Taylor in 2021 (5th), Henry in 2019 (4th), and Elliott in 2016 (8th) were all top-eight projected rushers.
The lone outlier, then, was Kareem Hunt in 2017 (projected for 16th) during his rookie season. So, even then, it's not like he was a total longshot. He was just projected for more of a committee role.
These past six rushers also played at least 15 games in the regular season, so availability is key. Not that we can bank on backs to stay healthy, but with games available so important (or more aptly games missed more damning), there's a wide range of outcomes from projections.
The 5 Best Bets to Lead the NFL in Rushing Yards in 2022
Derrick Henry (+600)
Our model likes Derrick Henry to lead the league in rushing for the third time in four seasons. He's projected for an astounding 2,055 yards, and it's easy to see why the projection is what it is.
Henry has no legitimate competition for carries, and if he stays healthy, he's going to be in the hunt for the league lead. I can get more into it than that, but he's within the top eight of projections (again, a key mark), and unlike most other backs in the NFL, he is a true featured back.
Even at +600, Henry is the second-best value bet in the simulations.
Jonathan Taylor (+600)
Last year's rushing leader, Jonathan Taylor, is projected for 1,835 yards himself. He and Henry are in a tier of their own. Their cases are very similar. If healthy, their claim to rushing work is effectively unanimous.
Taylor, who had 10 games with at least 100 rushing yards last season, is a fair betting value at +600, according to the simulations.
Christian McCaffrey (+4000)
Did somebody say something about staying healthy as a running back? We all know by now that Christian McCaffrey's health is a key variable in this projection. He has played 10 total games across the past two seasons.
Optimistically, that means a lot of recovery time has been baked in after a 403-touch campaign in 2019.
Ultimately, McCaffrey is projected to rank third in the league in rushing yards, and in the simulations, he ends up rating out as the best betting value.
David Montgomery (+4000)
David Montgomery is projected to rank ninth in the NFL in rushing yards this season, so he is right on that upper range of projections without getting a little too overzealous with our bets here.
While playing in one of the most run-heavy offenses in the NFL, Montgomery's path to a league-leading season revolves around availability. He had at least 10 rushes in all 13 of his active games last season with a 17-game pace of 280 carries for 1,190 yards.
James Conner (+7500)
The data isn't big on long shots to lead the league in rushing, but James Conner is projected to rank 21st in that category in 2022. Yes, that's lower than the low-water mark of 16th over the past six seasons that we've seen for an eventual leader, yet he's within 25 yards of a top-16 projection.