Picking the leader for rushing touchdowns in a season isn’t easy. Last season Derrick Henry and Aaron Jones tied for the lead with 16 rushing touchdowns each while the previous two years it was Todd Gurely’s 13 and 17 touchdowns that led the way. In 2016 LeGarrette Blount was a goal line beast with the Patriots and in 2015, four backs tied for the lead with just 11 touchdowns each. You don’t see any recent backs who have won it more than twice. Emmitt Smith, LaDainian Tomlinson, Shaun Alexander, Terrell Davis, DeAngelo Williams, Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch, and Gurley all led the league twice, but could not secure a third.
Touches around the goal line are great and an indicator for touchdown upside, but to get over the hump, a player needs to be able to break some longer touchdown runs to get his numbers up and those are impossible to predict. Those runs don’t have to be 70-yarders, but anything outside the opponent’s five-yard line is tough, even for great backs. Last season Henry led the league in touchdowns outside of the five-yard line with nine while Jones and Raheem Mostert were second with six. While Ezekiel Elliotta and Jones led with 10 touchdowns each inside the five-yard line. Opportunity plays a key role around the goal line of course. Those with seven or more touchdowns near the goal-line, all had 11 or more attempts, with Dalvin Cook leading the way with 21 despite missing a couple games.
Below, you’ll find my best bets for the rushing touchdowns leader using DraftKings Sportsbook’s odds.
Derrick Henry, Texans, +500
As you can tell by the odds, it isn’t easy to lead the league in touchdowns, as Henry is by far the most qualified favorite going this season. He only had 11 rushing attempts inside the five-yard line, but that has a lot to do with him being able to get into the end zone from the outside the five-yard line. He’s still the engine of the Titans offense and if healthy, will again lead the league in rushing attempts.
Dalvin Cook, Vikings, +1200
Cook was in the running for the lead in rushing touchdowns last season, but injuries derailed his chances toward the end. The good news is that he’s back and the Vikings should again be a run-heavy team. Last season they led the league in rushing attempts inside the five-yard line. There is still a chance that Cook sits out if he doesn’t have a contract before Week 1, so I’d hold off on putting any wagers down on his season results until that is 100 percent cleared up.
Miles Sanders, Eagles, +3300
The Eagles’ running backs ran the ball inside the opponent’s five-yard line 20 times last season, ranking them ninth in the league. Sanders is now locked in as the lead back with Jordan Howard gone, so his chances near the goal-line should get a nice bump. Sanders should be ready for Week 1, but is currently on the shelf with a lower body injury. Injuries are impossible to quantify, and are the biggest risk to season-long props, but that’s the deal.
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