NFL Vegas Odds: Rushing Yards Totals for 2021 (Fantasy Football)

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This article is the next part of a series highlighting the current Vegas over/under lines for the NFL Season comparing the DraftKings Sportsbook lines and the Fantasy Footballers‘ Ultimate Draft Kit projections. I recently published an article about Forecasting 101 & Projecting Offenses giving some high-level thoughts on predictions and how to rightly assess team situations before the season. Next in this series is looking at rushing yardage totals as they are currently posted on DK Sportsbook.

Here are a couple of simple thresholds to give us a better consensus view of these lines:

  • For individual projection “overs”, I set the line at +200 rushing yards. However, for the consensus “overs”, I wanted to give even more room for error and set that line at +250.
  • For individual projection “unders”, the line was -100 rushing yards. Consensus “unders” are really hard to spot when using projections because the process assumes every player plays a full 17-game schedule. For RBs, this is even more vexing considering last year only two RBs in the top-20 in fantasy played all 16 games in 2020. Thus, it’s extremely hard to avoid injuries when projecting rushing totals. Only two players below hit the consensus threshold of -30 rushing yards.

One final note: this article is meant to solely show receiving yards discrepancies based on the award-winning Ultimate Draft Kit projections. The variance in an NFL season and nuance relating to actual NFL betting is another conversation in and of itself. If you’d like more content on Vegas win totals and DFS, check out the Fantasy Footballers DFS Podcast.

The Big Dogs

It’s easy to envision the scenarios where these guys hit. As I mentioned in the previous receiving yards article, these guys are #goodatfootball so I don’t have to convince much of their talent or opportunity. This is more a game of percentages and weighing what type of risk is involved for the NFL’s most brutal position.

  • Derrick Henry– How can we not talk about THE big dog of them all in this section? Henry’s rushing outputs the last few years are legendary so he might seem like a shoo-in to hit the over. He averaged152 rushing yards per game last year on the road. Projection-wise it makes a ton of sense; however, we are dealing with a player entering into his age-28 season with a ton of tread on the tires. I’m siding with the under right now as my chips are pushed into the middle of the table for the Titans to regress and hit their under in 2021.
  • Dalvin Cook– It’s a bit surprising to see the major tier drop from Henry to Cook while the Ballers’ average is not that far off from each other. In fact, Andy has these two a mere 18 yards away from each other. He’s averaged 85 rushing yards per game in his career but he’s also only played 43 out of a possible 64 starts.
  • Nick Chubb– Listen I love Nick Chubb as a player. He might be the best pure runner in the league. Last year he became the only RB in the modern era to run for 1,000+ yards AND 9+ rush TDs in fewer than 13 games played. He is an outlier. And those are players you hate betting against but also need to continue to hit time and time again to hit the over on the rushing yardage totals. Mike is the only one who hits the ‘over’ in a significant enough way to make you think he could again.
  • Jonathan Taylor– Taylor came on strong at the end of the year and became one of seven rookie RBs in history with 1,100 rush yards, 10+ TDs, and over five yards per carry. The arrow only seems to bit pointing up but there should be some caution. The Colts were extremely fortunate with their schedule last year as the only team favorited in 15-of-16 games. Taylor also vanished whenever Indianapolis lost last year averaging a putrid 45 rushing yards per game in those contests. That’s concerning, to say the least.
  • Christian McCaffrey– Mike provides the only individual ‘under’ in this grouping with arguably fantasy football’s best player. Coming off an injury-plagued season adds some doubt in the air but his calling card isn’t really the ground game. CMC is playing with a new QB so there could be some adjustments. At 1,200.5, that’s a total above (+140) when you factor in his per-game averages of 61.7 rushing yards per game.
  • Saquon Barkley– Let’s go through the same exercise with Saquon as we did with CMC. He’s averaged 75.6 rushing yards per game in 31 career games which paces out to roughly 1,285 yards. When you add his road to recovery from a major injury and a poor offensive line, Saquon’s line is one of the few in this tier I can easily envision the under hitting.

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