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2017 NFL Regular Season Most Rushing Yards: LeVeon Bell vs Ezekiel Elliott Odds
Ezekiel Elliott Blew Away The Cowboys' Expectations
With one of the best offensive lines in the league, the Dallas Cowboys needed a powerhouse running back. The Cowboys could hardly wait to snap up Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott with the fourth overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft. It’s fair to say that Elliott blew away even the Cowboys’ expectations in his rookie season. Here are some of his numbers:
- He led the league in rushing with 1,631 yards. The first time a rookie won this category since Edgerrin James of the Indianapolis Colts led all running backs in 1999.
- He finished third in rushing touchdowns with 15, behind LeGarrette Blount of the New England Patriots (18) and David Johnson of the Arizona Cardinals (16).
- He finished second in rookie of the year voting, behind teammate Dak Prescott.
- He finished third in NFL MVP voting, behind Matt Ryan (Falcons) and Tom Brady (Patriots).
So much for a learning curve for this rookie, as Elliott was handed the ball 322 times last season and averaged more than five yards a carry. He helped the Cowboys rebound from a dismal 4-12 record in 2015 to a remarkable 13-3 in 2016.
Le'Veon Bell Is Still The Bookmakers' Favorite
Even though Elliott (+350) was the leading rusher last season by more than 300 yards, oddsmakers have Le’Veon Bell (+300) as the favorite to win this title in 2017 (odds provided by bovada.lv).
|NFL Most Rushing Yards in the 2017 Regular Season
Bell, selected 48th overall in the second round out of Michigan State in the 2013 draft, has only played all 16 games in a season once in his four-year career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He is a patient and explosive runner. His numbers back that up:
- He finished second last season in yards per game (105.7), trailing only Elliott at 108.7. However, Bell also averaged more than 50 yards a game receiving.
- He had 1,884 yards rushing and receiving in 12 games last season. Elliott had 1,994 in 15 games.
- He has fumbled rushing the ball four times in his career. Elliott fumbled five times in his only year as a rookie.
- Bell and the Steelers have the sixth easiest schedule this season. Elliott and the Cowboys have the 10th most difficult.
The Steelers don’t seem to be in a hurry to sign Bell to a long-term contract, especially with his injury history — he missed three games in his rookie season with a sprained foot, he missed the final eight games in 2015 to a knee injury, and he suffered a groin injury in the AFC title game last season which resulted in offseason surgery.
But that makes Bell a motivated player. He is sitting out training camp and will likely be slapped with a franchise tag this season. That also means he could become a free agent in 2018.
As for Elliott, the NFL will soon announce what it’s going to do with Cowboys running back, who has been under league investigation for more than a year over an alleged domestic violence incident involving his ex-girlfriend. It could mean a suspension and cut into his season totals.
BABB's Pick — Too many off-the-field issues put some of Elliott’s season in question. This is Bell’s year to earn that big contract he so desires.
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