Last week we took a look at the QB props for the 2023 NFL season, and this week we’re looking at running backs. No position has been more talked about this offseason than running back.
While the contract is disputed Saquon Barkley, Jonathan Taylor And Josh Jacobs Having taken some awkward public turns, here at ESPN Fantasy we’re huge fans of the gamers who make their living in the trenches. And what better way to show some love than by watching the best of the best and debating their dominance.
Can Nick Chubb Top 1,200 rushing yards for third straight year? Can Tony Pollard Did he eclipse the 1,000 rushing yards in his first year as a full-time starter? will Austin Ekeler See that touchdown drop we all expected last year? Vegas has thoughts. We have answers.
Here are five RB preseason props that stand out.
Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns O/U 1,200.5 rushing yards
DANIEL: Chubb is just different. The guy exudes old school running back. You know, those guys who just put their heads down and run through people? Yes, this is Chubb. He’s averaged more than 5.0 yards per streak in all five seasons of his career, despite seeing more stacked boxes than almost any other running back in the game. But can he get around 1,200.5 rushing yards on a new offense? Deshaun Watson? In years past, this seemed like a fairly simple matter. Chubb has rushed for 1,200 yards in three of the last four seasons, but with a little more work in passing and a greater focus on letting the QB breathe, I’ll take the UNDER to 1,200.5 rushing yards.
Liz: Nick Chubb Is different, DD! And that goes for the Browns’ offense as well in 2023. Assuming Browns offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt opens the passing game, around Watson’s arm (remember, he threw for over 4,800 yards and managed an 8.9 YPA in 2020) and better to use the above values of the team average receiving corps … well then take the UNDER at 1,200.5 rushing yards makes a lot of sense.
Bijan Robinson, Atlanta Falcons O/U 1,050.5 rushing yards
Liz: What makes less sense is that Robinson isn’t in the first round of the draft because he’s a freshman. Teams — especially those who topped the league in rush attempts seven months ago — don’t just pick a No. 8 player overall unless they plan to field him. Exuding Baby Barkley vibes, Robinson’s speed, vision and tackling skills (he’s led the FBS with 201 forced misses for the past three seasons) make him an instant player. Expecting 1,000+ rushing yards is a high bar… for a high-level player. The only way Robinson won’t make OVER is if he doesn’t play 17 games. Give me the optimism (and the OVER).
Daniel: It’s impossible not to be blown away by Robinson this year. Liz, you mentioned his ability to force failure. Here’s another funny thing: In the past three years, no one has had more yards from contact (2,185) than Robinson. He’s forcing missed tackles, he’s adding tackles for extra yards, and he’s playing for one of the NFL’s most run-heavy offenses. Like you, I am riding this optimistic wave. I’ll take the OVER.
Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys O/U 975.5 rushing yards
DANIEL Now that Pollard is finally free of the fission touches Ezekiel Elliott, what can we expect from the 26-year-old running back? Or more specifically, can we expect 975.5 rushing yards from Pollard in his first full year as a starter? It’s hard not to be optimistic. Pollard was one of the more efficient defensemen in the NFL. Last year, when Pollard shared time with Elliot, he was only 21st running back in touchdowns. Despite that limited volume, he ranked 12th in rushing yards with 1,007 on the season. With little competition behind him that scares me I’ll take the OVER to 975.5 rushing yards.
Liz: I don’t want to take the OVER on Pollard’s line because it seems like a trap. But the fact that he managed a 1,000-yard rushing campaign last season is proof he’s up to the task. However, less work had to be done near the goal line where so much contact is crucial. While I count Pollard among my top 10 RBs, that line is just too close. I take the UNDER and hope i’m wrong.
Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers O/U 8.5 Rushing TDs
Liz: What I’m certainly not wrong about, though, is Ekeler’s ability in the red. The man led the league in touchdowns two straight seasons. And he’s racked up double-digit rushing scores in consecutive appearances. Then why does this line seem too aggressive? I expect his goals will drop a bit as new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore looks to expand and better utilize the field JustinHerbert‘s arm. But that shouldn’t hamper Austin’s fast-paced production, right? But here’s the thing: The Chargers have one of the toughest game plans and will likely have to fight their way through some close duels. That means more passing, not more rushing. While I think Ekeler should be good for 8-10 rushing scores, I just don’t like this bet and will be hedging again in favor of UNDER.
Daniel: I’m sorry Liz I know it wasn’t easy. Austin’s a friend…or at least he was a friend before he read about you getting the UNDER on his quick touchdowns! They make some great points about the possible changes in his attack. No one here is questioning his talent or his ability on the field, but he’s put in above-average performances in the touchdown department for the past two years, and I expect that step backwards to start this year. Just like you, Liz, I don’t love the bet, so I take the UNDER.
David Montgomery, Detroit Lions O/U 6.5 Rushing TDs
Daniel: Last year, especially thanks Jamal WilliamsThe Detroit Lions had 23 rushing TDs from their running backs, most of them in the NFL. In fact, their running backs were pretty good. They also led the league in touchdowns per rush attempt. Oh, they also led the league when it came to goal-to-go attempts And Goal-to-go touchdowns. Do you sense a theme here? This season, Williams is out of town and Montgomery is bringing his short-haul game to the Motor City. Montgomery has recorded more than 15 goal-line throws in every year of his career and has had more than 6.5 touchdowns in two of the last three seasons. I very much expect that he cracks this goal. I’ll take the OVER at 6.5 rushing touchdowns.
Liz: I saw a Pro Lions POV and for a second worried we might not end this week’s column on an agreement. Then I saw the line on Montgomery’s rushing scores and sent out all the virtual first shots. I’m with you in the OVER In this case, friend. The North’s favorite Eagle Scout (fun fact huh?) dips into the end zone for 8 touchdowns in 2023.