🏈 The NFL's Discarded Position

Running back is the league's most controversial position, a former mainstay that has been deemed financially insignificant. With all the drama surrounding stars like Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs and Austin Ekeler, who do you think will lead the league in rushing yards in 2023? Let's take a look at the market and the favorites 👀 (3 min read)

Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

RB Drama

There’s been a lot of buzz surrouding how the NFL values (and in most cases, devalues) the running back, the offensive position group that once housed the sport’s most essential players, and now seems like an afterthought. With star RBs like Saquon Barkley and Josh Jacobs eligible for extensions, teams are making it clear that they don’t view even the truly elite RBs as worthy of lucrative long-term investments 😏

  • The average RB’s career is only 2.57 years, increasing the necessity for players to cash in while they can

  • Teams will generally discard running backs at the first signs of wear and tear for younger, cheaper replacements 👇

Seeing how the league’s best RBs are faring on the open market, it seems that Ezekiel Elliott’s six-year, $90M contract in 2019 is likely the last of its kind. Zeke will end up making much less and closer to the $50M guaranteed figure, due to his sharp decline in productivity and subsequent release from Dallas this offseason. In many ways, Zeke’s short peak and replacement by Tony Pollard is a microcosm of life as a running back 😢

  • Previewing the league’s top rushers in 2023 is tricky, given the contract disputes that have occurred this summer. Barkley, the league’s most marketable RB and one of the most productive, was unable to reach a suitable contract agreement with he Giants prior to the deadline

  • This result means he may sit out training camp and even into the regular season as the situation grows more dire 😬

The Giants appear resolute in their willingness to prolong this statement, signing RB James Robinson as a potential Saquon replacement. This move toward a younger, cheaper option only underscores the complaints of so many running backs about their standing within the league. Jacobs, who led the league in rushing yards last season, has similarly decided to sit out indefinitely in the wake of not receiving a long term extension from the Raiders 🏴‍☠️

  • Jacobs and Barkley served as the engines of otherwise middling offenses last season, and are well justified in fighting for appropriate compensation

  • However, there is a compelling statistical case for these teams’ decisions not to spend heavy on RB 👇

Looking toward 2023, the uncertainty surrounding these star RBs’ futures leaves neither as a solid bet to lead the NFL in rushing. The Browns’ Nick Chubb, who many regard as the league’s most talented rusher, looks to have a great shot at the title. Others like Christian McCaffrey, Pollard and Derrick Henry also headline a field of talented backs 🔥

In an age of offensive explosion in the NFL, we hope these guys end up getting paid what they believe they are worth. For now, take a look at the betting favorites to win this year’s rushing title 👇

  • Nick Chubb: +600

  • Jonathan Taylor: +700

  • Derrick Henry: +750

  • Bijan Robinson: +1200

  • Josh Jacobs: +1400

  • Saquon Barkley: +1600

  • Tony Pollard: +1800

Trivia Question: Which player has won the most rushing titles in league history?

Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images

For My Parlay Gurus

Chubb is the favorite for a reason — his durability as a running back is incredibly rare. The four-time Pro Bowler has played 13 or more games in all but one season of his career, and stands to gain from Barkley’s and Jacobs’ potential absences. Peep these two futures I have my eyes on 🏆

  • Nick Chubb to lead the league in rushing yards: +600

  • Nick Chubb to rush for over 1200.5 yards: -112

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Trivia Answer: Cleveland legend Jim Brown won the rushing title a remarkable eight times in his storied career, double as many times as anyone else