Can Saquon Barkley Lead the NFL in Yards From Scrimmage in 2019?

This NFL futures bet is one of the more exciting ones that NFL bettors can wager on. The goal for this wager is to choose which player will lead the NFL in yards from scrimmage. It’s important to know that this statistical category doesn’t include quarterbacks, punters, or kickers. Additionally, yards from scrimmage also differs from all-purpose yards.

Yards from scrimmage measures the yards from the line of scrimmage toward the opponent’s goal line. This statistical category includes rushing and receiving yards only. All-purpose yards includes all yards gained from rushing, receiving, kick returns, punt returns, interception returns, and fumble recoveries.

Over the years, yards from scrimmage has become a tool to measure just how valuable a player is to an offense and possibly the league. With that said, NFL betting sites have released odds for who they think will lead the NFL in yards from scrimmage in 2019. Let’s break the huddle and see how we can take this prop bet to the house.

Previous Yards From Scrimmage (YFS) Leaders

Typically, this statistical category is led by a running back since they get more touches per game than wide receivers or tight ends. Those touches can come via receptions or rushing attempts. Most wide receivers don’t get many rushing opportunities. However, that’s not to say that wide receivers can’t lead this category. The odds are stacked against them. The following is a list of the last 10 NFL leaders for yards from scrimmage:

  • 2018 – Saquon Barkley had 2,028 yards
  • 2017 – Todd Gurley had 2,093 yards
  • 2016 – David Johnson had 2,118 yards
  • 2015 – Julio Jones had 1,871 yards
  • 2014 – DeMarco Murray had 2,261 yards
  • 2013 – LeSean McCoy had 2,146 yards
  • 2012 – Adrian Peterson had 2,314 yards
  • 2011 – Ray Rice had 2,068 yards
  • 2010 – Arian Foster had 2,220 yards
  • 2009 – Chris Johnson had 2,509 yards

Yards From Scrimmage Betting Odds

The following NFL prop bet and odds are courtesy of BetOnline:

  • Saquon Barkley (+500)
  • Christian McCaffrey (+600)
  • Le’Veon Bell (+650)
  • Todd Gurley (+650)
  • Alvin Kamara (+800)
  • Ezekiel Elliott (+800)
  • David Johnson (+1400)
  • Melvin Gordon (+1400)
  • James Conner (+1600)
  • Devonta Freeman (+2000)
  • Joe Mixon (+2000)
  • Aaron Jones (+2500)
  • Julio Jones (+2500)
  • Leonard Fournette (+2500)
  • Marlon Mack (+2500)
  • Nick Chubb (+2500)
  • Phillip Lindsay (+2500)
  • Antonio Brown (+2800)
  • Dalvin Cook (+2800)
  • Kerryon Johnson (+2800)
  • Tarik Cohen (+2800)
  • Tyreek Hill (+2800)
  • DeAndre Hopkins (+3300)
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster (+3300)
  • Michael Thomas (+3300)
  • Mike Evans (+3300)
  • Odell Beckham (+3300)
  • Derrick Henry (+4000)
  • Kenyan Drake (+4000)
  • Sony Michel (+4000)
  • Chris Carson (+5000)
  • LeSean McCoy (+5000)
  • Mark Ingram (+6600)
  • Adrian Peterson (+8000)
  • James White (+10000)
  • Tevin Coleman (+10000)

Betting Favorites to Lead NFL in Yards From Scrimmage

The following players are odds on favorites to lead the NFL in yards from scrimmage (YFS) for the 2019 season:

Player 2018 Yds 2018 Rank YFS High Career Yds
Saquon Barkley 2,028 yds 1 2,028 yds 2,028 yds
Christian McCaffrey 1,965 yds 3 1,965 yds 3,051 yds
Le’Veon Bell N/A N/A 1,946 yds 7,996 yds
Todd Gurley 1,831 yds 4 2,093 yds 6,430 yds
Alvin Kamara 1,592 yds 7 1,592 yds 3,146 yds

Saquon Barkley (+500)

In 2018, Barkley was the top running back taken in the NFL Draft and he certainly lived up to the hype coming out of Penn State. Saquon became the top weapon for the New York Giants and quickly showed the league why he was drafted third overall.

Barkley finished the season with 352 touches and 15 total touchdowns. He was second in the NFL behind Ezekiel Elliott for rushing yards with 1,307 yards. However, Barkley averaged 5.0 yards per attempt and 81.7 rushing yards per game.

Almost as impressive as his rushing skills was Barkley’s receiving skills. He had 91 receptions and 721 receiving yards. His reception total was good for 13th in the league and the second most among running backs.

This year, Barkley will be the focal point of the Giants’ offense especially with Beckham being shipped off to Cleveland. Many naysayers feel that the Giants don’t have enough weapons in the passing game and that will hurt Barkley’s production. For me, that’s laughable. Barkley will still get 350+ touches and he will make the most of them. Expect Saquon to be one of the league leaders and best all-around running backs in 2019.

Christian McCaffrey (+600)

My second favorite running back, behind Barkley, is the most dangerous pass catching RB in the league. There’s no arguing or refuting that claim. Last year, McCaffrey set the NFL record for receptions by a running back when he finished with 107 catches. That was good for seventh overall in the NFL. He also tallied 867 receiving yards and six touchdown catches.

Christian was just as dangerous as a runner as well. Like Barkley, McCaffrey finished with 5.0 rushing yards per attempt and also broke the 1,000-yard mark with 1,098 rushing yards. He was sixth in the league for rushing and finished with seven rushing touchdowns.

In 2018, McCaffrey was third in the NFL for yards from scrimmage as he finished with 1,965 total yards. McCaffrey has become one of Carolina’s top players heading into his third season. I expect big things from #22 this year, and he will definitely be a contender to lead the league in yards from scrimmage.

Le’Veon Bell (+650)

Bell is a bit of a mystery heading into the 2019 season. Le’Veon sat out the entire 2018 season due to contractual issues with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He returned to the NFL during the offseason and signed with the New York Jets. However, there are many questions surrounding his overall conditioning and whether or not he can be the same dual threat back he once was.

In 2017 and 2014, Bell finished second in the NFL for yards from scrimmage. He did that by also finishing second in rushing yards for both years. His 80+ receptions in each of those seasons made him one of the Steelers’ most dangerous offensive weapons.

  • 2017 stats:
  • 1,946 total yards, 1,291 rushing yards, 85 receptions for 665 yards, and 11 total TDs

  • 2014 stats:
  • 2,215 total yards, 1,361 rushing yards, 83 receptions for 854 yards, and 11 total TDs

As you can see, Bell has been a fantastic player in this league. However, being out of the NFL since the end of 2017 and playing for a new team has me concerned about his chances for success in 2019. Throw in a second-year QB, an average offensive line, and new coaches, I just don’t see Bell out-producing any of these other betting favorites.

Todd Gurley (+650)

Todd Gurley has become the lynchpin for the Los Angeles Rams rushing attack. He beat Le’Veon Bell in 2017 to lead the league in yards from scrimmage with 2,093 total yards. However, due to sitting out the final game of that season, he missed out on winning the rushing title as well.

Last year, Gurley only played in 14 games but finished with 1,831 total yards. That was good for fourth in the league. He was also third in the league for rushing yards with 1,251 yards and 17 rushing TDs. Gurley also tallied 59 receptions for 580 yards and four receiving TDs. His 21 total touchdowns led the NFL last year.

If Gurley could’ve stayed healthy for the full season, and played all 16 games, he most likely would’ve led the NFL in yards from scrimmage for the second straight year. Unfortunately, his knee issues are a concern heading into the 2019 season, and the Rams have brought in enough depth at the RB position to lighten the load for Gurley. With fewer touches planned, I don’t see Gurley competing for this statistical crown.

Alvin Kamara (+800)

In two seasons with the New Orleans Saints, Kamara has surpassed the 1,500 total yards mark each year. The 2018 season saw Kamara finish with 1,592 yards from scrimmage, which was good for seventh overall. He tallied 883 rushing yards and 14 rushing TDs to go along with 709 receiving yards on 81 receptions. Kamara’s 18 total touchdowns was good for second overall, just three behind Gurley.

The amazing thing about Kamara’s output last year was that he did it sharing the backfield with Mark Ingram. The duo combined to lead the Saints to the sixth best rushing attack in the NFL, which was down one spot from their fifth best rushing attack for the 2017 season.

During the offseason, Ingram left New Orleans as a free agent and took his talents to Baltimore. Now, Kamara will be the main man for the Saints, and I expect big things from him. In his two seasons sharing the backfield, Kamara had 314 carries compared to Ingram’s 368 attempts. Last year, Ingram missed a few games and only finished with 138 rushing attempts. I expect Kamara to get more of those touches this year, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up with 240 rushing attempts this year.

If you take 240 attempts and multiply it by his career average of 5.1 ypc, then Kamara would finish 2019 with 1,224 rushing yards. He’s averaged 767 receiving yards per season sharing the backfield with Ingram. I expect those numbers to go up as well. If Kamara can surpass his 81 receptions from last year then he could easily break 800 receiving yards, which would put him over 2,000 yards from scrimmage. That’s the mark that typically earns a player the crown of finishing with the most yards from scrimmage.

Yards From Scrimmage Betting Value

These NFL players offer betting value based on their current odds, past statistical success, and projected totals for the 2019 season:

Player 2018 Yds 2018 Rank YFS High Career Yds
David Johnson 1,386 yds 16 2,118 yds 4,632 yds
Joe Mixon 1,464 yds 11 1,464 yds 2,377 yds
Dalvin Cook 920 yds 55 920 yds 1,364 yds

David Johnson (+1400)

In 2016, David Johnson was the best all-around back in the NFL. He led the league in yards from scrimmage with 2,118 total yards and in total touchdowns with 20. Although he didn’t lead the NFL in rushing, he did in receiving yards for a running back with 879 yards on 80 receptions.

Unfortunately, it’s been all downhill for Johnson since his breakout year. In 2017, Johnson got hurt in the first game of the season and was lost for the year. In 2018, he played behind the worst offensive line and the worst team in the NFL. Yet, he still finished with 1,386 total yards which were good for 16th overall.

This year, the Cardinals have a new offensive system that is supposed to be explosive. Although we haven’t seen it so far in the preseason, the Cardinals appear to have upgraded the o-line and QB position enough to where Johnson could have a strong season. He will be needed to take the pressure off rookie franchise QB Kyler Murray. I think that Johnson offers value and has the potential to get back up near the top of the mountain for all-around best running backs.

Joe Mixon (+2000)

Last season, Mixon quietly went about his business and finished 11th overall with 1,464 yards from scrimmage. He was fourth in the league with 1,168 rushing yards and added eight touchdowns on the ground. Mixon also had 296 receiving yards on 43 receptions with one receiving TD.

Mixon is projected to have a big year in 2019 and that’s largely due to the new system in place. The Bengals hired Zac Taylor, a formers Rams assistant coach and QB coach, who will be implemented an offensive system similar to what the Rams run. We’ve all seen what Gurley has done in that type of system, so many pundits and fans believe that Mixon can have similar success.

The one concern about Mixon, like Gurley, Joe has been dealing with nagging injuries over the last two years. He’s only played 14 games each season. If Mixon can stay healthy and benefit from this new system, then I believe he offers tremendous value for this futures bet.

Dalvin Cook (+2800)

I like Cook’s chances in 2019 to have a breakout year. He certainly has the potential to be one of the league’s top running backs, but he has also been hampered by injuries. In 2017, Cook suffered a serious knee injury and missed 12 games. In 2018, Cook dealt with nagging leg injuries and missed five games. He’s basically missed an entire NFL season due to injuries.

This year, the Vikings have upgraded their offensive line which was a below average unit last year. In fact, it’s what prevented the Vikings from making the playoffs. Additionally, Minnesota brought in Gary Kubiak to help oversee the offense, which bodes well for the team’s rushing attack as Kubiak has a long history of success in developing running backs.

I believe Cook will benefit from Kubiak and the new rushing attack. He just needs to stay healthy.

Top Longshots to Lead NFL in Yards From Scrimmage

Derrick Henry (+4000) finished the 2018 NFL season with 1,158 total yards, which was good for 31st in the league. He tallied 1,059 rushing yards and 99 receiving yards last year but did most of his damage over the last four games. Over that stretch of the season, Henry totaled 585 rushing yards and seven touchdowns.

The Tennessee Titans love to play physical football with a smash mouth running attack. Henry is the epitome of that brutality. At 6’3” and 247 pounds, Henry is one of the biggest starting running backs in the NFL. He’s physical but has also shown breakaway speed. If the Titans can get this diesel engine going early and often, Henry could power his way up the ranks and contend for the yards from scrimmage title.

Are There Any Wide Receivers That Could Lead NFL in YFS?

As you can see above, all of the players that I’ve chosen were running backs. The reason I didn’t choose any wide receivers is because the ones who have any real chance are overvalued by online betting sites and because they have a large amount of history working against them.

  • Julio Jones (+2500)
  • Jones led the NFL in yards from scrimmage back in 2015, and finished fifth last year, but would need 2,000 receiving yards this year to have a realistic shot at winning this statistical category. I don’t see Jones or any wide receiver breaking 2,000 yards in the near future, as it’s never been done before.

  • Antonio Brown (+2800)
  • Brown finished second to Jones in 2015, the year that the league saw a dip in running back production. Brown was fourth in 2014 but was over 500 yards behind running back DeMarco Murray who led the NFL that year in yards from scrimmage. Add the fact that Brown is playing with a new team this year, and he’s arguably the most overvalued receiver for this NFL prop bet.

  • DeAndre Hopkins (+3300)
  • Hopkins is one of the most talented receivers in the NFL, but even with his best season for yards, he was still 500 yards behind Barkley in 2018. Hopkins has a better shot at leading the NFL in TD receptions than yards from scrimmage.

  • JuJu Smith-Schuster (+3300)
  • JuJu will be the main receiving weapon in the Steelers’ passing attack. He started 13 games last year and finished with 1,426 yards. He also finished 12th overall in yards from scrimmage. Unfortunately, he will have a hard time putting up more yards than the top dual threat backs in the league. Not to mention, the Steelers will look to have a more balanced offense in 2019, which means more running the ball. Running back James Conner (+1600) has a better shot at the YFS title than JuJu does.

  • Michael Thomas (+3300)
  • Thomas led the NFL in receptions last year but finished behind Jones, Hopkins, Hill, Evans, and Juju for yards from scrimmage. If he can’t even beat out those receivers, then there’s no way he’s going to beat any of the top running backs like Barkley, McCaffrey or even his own teammate Alvin Kamara.

Calvin Johnson set the NFL record for most receiving yards in a season with 1,964 yards. However, he still finished 350 yards behind Adrian Peterson who led the NFL in yards from scrimmage with 2,314 total yards.

In fact, other than Julio Jones in 2015, the only other wide receiver to have ever led the NFL in yards from scrimmage was Charley Hennigan back in 1961. Hennigan was a wide receiver for the Houston Oilers in the AFL and put up some very impressive numbers back in the day. In 14 games, Hennigan finished with 1,746 receiving yards on 82 receptions. He averaged 124.7 receiving yards per game, 21 yards per catch, and had 12 TDs.

His yardage mark for 1961 is still the sixth best mark of all-time. The five men who have surpassed him all had to catch at least 37 more passes to do so. Calvin Johnson who set the yardage record for receivers had 40 more catches. Based on his average, if Hennigan caught 122 balls, he would’ve finished with 2,562 receiving yards. A record that would certainly still stand to this very day.

When you break it down, receivers have only led the NFL in yards from scrimmage on two occasions since 1958. Avoid betting on any receivers for this NFL prop bet.

Can Anyone Break Chris Johnson’s YFS NFL Record in 2019?

In 2009, Chris Johnson broke 2,000 rushing yards and earned the nickname “CJ2K.” He also tallied 503 receiving yards, which gave him a total of 2,509 yards from scrimmage. His season total broke the previous record of 2,429 yards set by Marshall Faulk in 1999. Not since 2012, has anyone come close to Johnson’s mark as Adrian Peterson broke 2,000 rushing yards, but finished with 2,314 yards from scrimmage.

Today’s NFL philosophy is to not wear down your main running back throughout the season. That means backups often get more touches than they did back in the day. With that said, no NFL player will even threaten Johnson’s record this year, let alone break it.

Who Will Lead NFL in Yards From Scrimmage?

It’s been 20 years since a player has led the NFL in yards from scrimmage for consecutive seasons. Back then, Marshall Faulk was rewriting the NFL record books as a dual threat running back and took the YFS title in 1998 and 1999. Saquon Barkley is trying to do the same thing by winning this statistical category two years in a row.

Prior to Faulk, Thurman Thomas won is three straight years (1990-1992) making him the second running back to ever accomplish that feat. Eric Dickerson won back-to-back YFS titles in 1983 and 1984, Walter Payton did it in 1977 and 1978, OJ Simpson did it in 1975 and 1976, and the legendary Jim Brown did from 1963 to 1965.

With only six players to have ever led the NFL in YFS for consecutive seasons, I have a hard time going with my favorite running back Saquon Barkley on this NFL futures bet. Christian McCaffrey is a solid pick, but I doubt he’s going to get enough rushing yards to win the YFS title this year. Gurley and Bell have too many question marks and concerns coming into this year, so that leaves one player—Alvin Kamara.

I believe Kamara is going to dethrone Saquon Barkley this year as he tallies at least 2,100 yards from scrimmage. He will be the main back in a high powered New Orleans Saints’ offense, and he will benefit greatly from a team that has 100% confidence in Kamara to lead the way. I’m taking Kamara to edge out Barkley and McCaffrey for total yards from scrimmage in 2019.

The 2019 NFL YFS Leader: Alvin Kamara (+800)
Rick Rockwell: As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at GamblingSites.org to become the self-professed "King of the Blog" in his first year with the site.