ENGLEWOOD, COLORADO – JUNE 14: Javonte Williams #33 of the Denver Broncos runs with the ball on field during a mandatory mini camp at UCHealth Training Center on June 14, 2022 in Englewood, Colorado. Matthew Stockman/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by MATTHEW STOCKMAN/GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/Getty Images via AFP)
Training camps in the NFL are in full swing and a slew of preseason games begin Thursday. Here are five running back position fights this phase of the offseason along with each player’s chances of leading the NFL in rushing yards from DraftKings Sportsbooks.
5 NFL running back position fights
Denver Broncos: Javonte Williams vs. Melvin Gordon
Gordon and Williams finished the 2021 campaign with 203 carries apiece, averaging 4.4 and 4.5 yards per dead, respectively. It is widely speculated that the duo will once again share time and have similar workloads this season.
The two rushers split carries during training camp, and offensive coordinator Justin Outten recently said both Gordon and Williams will be on one count pitch throughout the season. Injuries aside, a committee outside the backcourt appears to be the plan, with the focus being on keeping both players healthy.
Finally, the Broncos failed to bring quarterback Russell Wilson back to 10th last in passing plays percentage in 2022. Some of the touches available to Williams and Gordon could go through the air, and both have the ability to be dangerous weapons for Wilson.
Rushing yards odds: Williams (+2000) and Gordon (+8000)
New England Patriots: Damien Harris vs. Rhamondre Stevenson
Stevenson, another backfield likely to exhibit a committee approach, has received work with first-team offense and playing third-down games during portions of training camp. Harris remains the likely starter for Week 1, but this could progress to nearly 50-50 timeshares this season.
There should still be plenty of work to do for both defensemen after New England had the seventh-highest running game percentage last season.
Unfortunately, early camp reports about the offense are not encouraging, and the struggles are many. While Harris and Stevenson could prove to be some of the best double strikes from the backfield in the league, New England’s offense may not be an overly dangerous unit.
Rushing yards odds: Harris (+3500) and Stevenson (+10000)
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Philadelphia Eagles: Miles Sanders vs. Boston Scott vs. Kenneth Gainwell
Philadelphia’s offense has the potential and staff to be among the best in the league, and the Eagles also have a soft opening plan. While Sanders, Scott and Gainwell have all received replays with first-team offense during training camp, head coach Nick Sirianni has insisted that Sanders will be the starter.
Gainwell had received a lot hustle and bustle during the campbut he is not practice on Tuesday after also missing snaps during Sunday’s open practice. While the injury is minor, he’s expected to play a significant role on offense, having found the end zone six times as a rookie with just 284 offensive snaps last year.
Scott is also out with a concussion but should also be involved in the rushing attack once healthy. Of course, quarterback Jalen Hurts also turned his 139 carries into 784 yards and 10 scores, so there’s real groundwork competition in Philadelphia.
To add context, Hurts is +10000 to lead the NFL in rushing yards at DraftKings.
Rushing yards odds: Sanders (+5000), Scott (+20000) and Gainwell (+25000)
Seattle Seahawks: Rashaad Penny vs. Kenneth Walker III
Penny hadn’t started a game during his career through Week 10 of last season after being drafted in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, but he exploded for 671 rushing yards, 7.3 yards per, in the final five weeks of the 2021 campaign Carry and six touchdowns.
However, the breakout stretch didn’t stop the Seahawks from investing in the running back position in the 2022 NFL Draft. Seattle selected Walker with the 41st overall pick after winning last year’s Doak Walker Award for top running back in college football.
It will likely be Penny who opens the season as a running back, but he has missed more games than he has played over the past three years due to injuries. The organization also obviously values what Walker brings to the table.
Rushing yards odds: Penny (+3000) and Walker III (+6000)
Houston Texans: Marlon Mack vs Rex Burkhead vs Dameon Pierce
The Texans could quickly establish themselves as the worst team in the NFL, but sophomore quarterback Davis Mills showed a glimpse of potential as a rookie last year, and that’s still a question-mark backfield.
Mack and Burkhead are established, but Mack has only played seven games over the past two seasons, and Burkhead is suitable for a supporting role. As a result, there’s a huge opportunity for Pierce to be a regular weekly contributor for the Texans.
After fully recovering from an Achilles tendon injury in 2020, Mack will likely make the first leap into the Houston backfield lead, but Pierce is a strong runner who started with just 100 rushes and 19 receptions with the Florida Gators last season scored 16 goals. As a result, the rookie rusher was able to quickly develop an important role on the goal line and at close range.
Rushing yards odds: Mack (+5000), Burkhead (+20000) and Pierce (+25000)
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A lifelong supporter of the Cowboys, Cubs, Maple Leafs and Gators, Neil has covered sports in print and online since 2011. His past positions include USA TODAY, theScore, DraftKings Playbook and RotoWire. He is a graduate of St. Thomas University and Acadia University and spends a lot of time at the KenWo Golf Club.