We’re still a few weeks away from the start of regular-season battles on the NFL gridiron, but there’s no offseason when it comes to debate amongst fans. This summer, we launched a new series here at PFR known as the Community Tailgate. What’s the Community Tailgate all about? Well, it’s pretty simple. Every weekday, we’ll highlight one of the top stories going on in the NFL. Then, in the comment section below, we want you to weigh in and let us know what you think.
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Today, we’re shifting our focus to a position that has evolved significantly over the last decade or two. For the most part, NFL running backs are no longer expected to carry the ball 350 times in a season, with most teams employing a backfield that features multiple ball-carriers who share the load.
The reduced workload for top running backs means that, with a few exceptions, we won’t see many ball-carriers approaching the 2,000-yard mark anymore. A year ago, only one back ran for more than 1,400 yards, with DeMarco Murray racking up 1,845 — Le’Veon Bell finished second, with 1,361.
According to betting site Bovada.lv, both Murray and Bell are among the top candidate to lead the NFL in rushing yards in 2015, but it’s former MVP Adrian Peterson who is viewed as the favorite. Peterson turned 30 this year, and he missed all but one game in 2014 due to legal troubles, but he has made it his goal to shoot for an outrageous 2,500 rushing yards, and he has a history of defying the odds — his 2,097-yard season in 2012 came after he returned from an ACL tear.
Besides Peterson, Murray, and Bell, several of the usual veteran contenders are near the top of Bovada’s list of favorites for the rushing title, including Marshawn Lynch, Jamaal Charles, and LeSean McCoy. The site also gives younger backs Eddie Lacy, Jeremy Hill, and C.J. Anderson strong odds of challenging for the crown.
What do you think? Who will lead the NFL in rushing yards in 2015? Will it be a veteran like Peterson or Murray, or will a younger player earn the honor for the first time in his career?