Lamar Jackson has already proven himself to be the steal of the 2018 NFL Draft. He has already set numerous records and was a unanimous MVP just two years ago. With the right players around him, and a relatively injury-free year, there is no telling what he can accomplish.
He might even become the first quarterback to win a single-season rushing yards title.
It is a crazy notion since it would mean running Jackson more than any team should ever consider running their quarterback. No team in its right mind would have put their starting quarterback in harm’s way enough for him to win the rushing title.
However, the threat of Jackson running is what makes the Ravens‘ offense work. It forces defenses to focus on stopping the running game to the point where it is easier to pass on them. If they back off to defend against the pass better, Jackson and the Ravens running backs will run wild.
Jackson ends up running the ball quite a bit. But can we see him getting enough carries to win the rushing title? The answer to that question is one of the reasons why his odds are as long as they are:
|Most Regular Season Rushing Yards In 2021/22||PointsBet||William Hill|
But if there is anything that Lamar Jackson has shown us during his short time in the NFL, it is that we should not put anything past him. Tell him he cannot do something, and he will. With odds like this, that is essentially what the oddsmakers are saying.
What It Will Take For Lamar Jackson To Win The Rushing Title
The last 12 rushing champions averaged 1685 yards on 332 carries for an average of 5.1 yards a carry. But if you look at the last five champs—well, it does not get that much easier. The last five averaged 1591.8 yards on 315.8 carries for an average of 5.04 yards a carry.
By those numbers, Jackson will need to almost double his workload (176 carries in 2019; 159 in 2020). If he does, and he can match his career average of 6.0 yards a carry, Jackson will certainly set the mark to beat. But that is not going to happen.
The Ravens will not increase his carries that much; they might let him run 200 times, but 300+? Not a chance. By the look of their offseason moves, it appears that the Ravens may try to establish the passing game this season—which means he will likely not come close to 200 carries.
For the sake of argument, let’s assume Jackson does get 200 carries and averages seven yards a carry for a total right around 1400 yards. It would be on the low-end for a rushing champ, but Kareem Hunt only had 1,327 yards in 2017.
However, with how the running backs at the top of the board have performed the last few years, that will not be enough. Derrick Henry, Ezekiel Elliot, Dalvin Cook, and Nick Chubb cannot produce like they have the last few years.
There is a chance, however, that they will not.
With almost 700 carries in the last two seasons, it would not be shocking if Derrick Henry were to slow down. Historically, backs that have had workloads like he has do just that. With the Titans acquiring Julio Jones in the offseason, there is a chance they may be looking to feature the passing game a little more.
Minnesota’s 26th ranked offensive line might make things difficult for Dalvin Cook, but the Vikings line only ranked 26th last season when Cook ran for over 1500+. But a line like that typically means taking a lot of hits at or near the line of scrimmage.
That means he will get banged up.
Nick Chubb will lose too many carries to Kareem Hunt. Christian McCaffrey will not get enough carries, and neither will Jonathan Taylor or Aaron Jones. It is hard to see the Giants push Saquon Barkley too hard, either.
Ezekiel Elliot is a strong candidate, but you cannot trust the health of the Dallas offensive line and Kellen Moore seems to favor the passing game.
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It is hard to imagine all the top running backs having down years. But it would not be unheard of. This season’s additional game does not help, but it could also mean teams try a little load management to keep their running backs fresh for the playoffs.
While it would be insane for the Ravens to run their quarterback even 200 times, with how well Jackson produces, it would be insane not to. But if Jackson is going to win, it will require a herculean effort on his part and a whole lot of bad luck across the NFL.
But at his odds (+10000 at William Hill), there is value. While you will probably lose, you could also turn $10 into $1000.