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2023 NFL Futures: Running Back Prop Bets for Saquon Barkley, Cam Akers, Miles Sanders, and D'Andre Swift

Saquon Barkley - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Injury News, DFS Lineup Picks

The 2023-24 NFL season is quickly approaching, which means it's time to look at some season-long prop bets. There are so many props with a ton of opportunity on a clean board before any of the real action starts. You can talk yourself into this player or that player and really build a team of individuals to root for as the season progresses.

The running back position has been a contentious conversation this summer. Some ball carriers feel that they are underpaid, while owners and teams can point to why that sentiment is inaccurate. The discourse has been centered around contracts and value, which becomes an awkward conversation when made public. Thankfully for us, we just have to worry about the props.

Continuing my season-long position prop theme, in this article, I'll be going through some running back props. Click here to check out my favorite WR prop futures and click here to read my QB future props article.

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Saquon Barkley, New York Giants

OVER 7.5 touchdowns (-112 FanDuel)

The do-it-all running back for the New York Giants should be in full force this season. Barkley had a bit of a weird summer where he and the Giants couldn't settle on a contract. He debated sitting out but ultimately signed a one-year, $10 million franchise tag deal. Now that Saquon seems determined to play, I'm determined to capitalize on what should be an extremely motivated player.

Barkley was fantastic last season, rushing for 1,312 yards and ten touchdowns. He also added 57 receptions for 338 yards and was seventh in total yards from scrimmage. More importantly, he was healthy and played 16 games for the first time since his rookie year in 2018.

Looking at the Giants' offense, it feels similar to last season's unit. Maybe one of the receivers can pop but they should rely a lot on Barkley. Last season, New York was fifth in the NFL in red zone touchdown percentage. Eight of Barkley's ten touchdowns came inside the 20-yard line and seven of those came inside the five. Quarterback Daniel Jones also scored five of his seven rushing touchdowns inside the five-yard line. The Giants also only had nine passing touchdowns inside the 20-yard line last season. The point is that they should continue to prioritize running near the end zone as it worked out pretty well for them last season.

As noted before, 2022 was Saquon's healthiest season since his rookie season in 2018. That year, he played in all 16 games and rushed for 1,307 yards and 11 touchdowns. It's hard to bank on health in the NFL, especially given his injury risk, but last season was impressive. He's going to be playing for a new contract and finding the end zone never hurts your value.

Cam Akers, L.A. Rams

UNDER 775.5 Rushing Yards (-112 FanDuel)

The first thing at stands out here is the disparity between FanDuel and DraftKings on Akers' projections. FanDuel has his o/u for rushing yards at 775.5 while DK has it at 750.5. I took the under on A.J. Brown because of book differences and I'm going to do the same here with Cam Akers.

Akers is coming off a season that saw him rush for 786 yards in 15 games with Los Angeles. Last season was pretty rough for the Rams in terms of injuries as key players such as Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp missed significant time. The lost season allowed Akers to run wild in the final three games of the regular season. He rushed for 118 yards on 23 carries, 123 on 19 carries, and 104 yards on 21 carries, respectively, over the final three contests of the year.

Akers finished the season with 786 rushing yards but 345 of those came in the final three games. Now that we highlighted the good, let's talk about the bad. Outside of those three 100+ yard games, the most rushing yards he had in a game was 65. Akers would put together a whopping 36.75 yards per game in the other 12 games, not great.

There are reports that Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford is healthier than he's been in years. That would point toward prioritizing throwing the football and mimicking the 2021 offense that helped lead the Rams to a 12-5 regular season record and Super Bowl LVI title. In that 2021 season, Stafford threw for the third-most yards in the NFL, was second in touchdown passes, and eighth in pass attempts. Cam Akers played in 15 games last season after missing all but one game in the 2021 season with injuries. He'll need to stay on the field and be efficient to hit this number. I just don't see it.

 

Miles Sanders, Carolina Panthers

UNDER 6.5 Rushing Touchdowns (-120 DraftKings)

Let's see how Mr. Sanders fares going from the NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles to the Carolina Panthers. During the offseason, Sanders signed a four-year, $25 million deal to become the lead back in Carolina. He's coming off a season in which he rushed for 1,269 yards and found the end zone 11 times. At first glance, saying he won't score more than six rushing touchdowns after totaling 11 last year seems strange.

The 26-year-old back is certainly a good player but he also benefited a lot from playing in a high-powered offense. Last season, the Eagles were third in total yards and points per game while scoring the second-most touchdowns in the NFL. They were also third in red zone touchdown scoring percentage. Sanders scored 10 of his 11 touchdowns inside the 15-yard line. Eight of those came inside the 10-yard line and seven came inside the five-yard line. It seems unlikely that the Panthers' offense will present the same opportunities.

Carolina will have 2023 first-overall pick Bryce Young starting at quarterback. Aside from being a rookie getting acclimated to the NFL, Young also has the ability to use his legs. He scored four rushing touchdowns with the Crimson Tide last season and that number felt like it could've been way higher. The former Alabama star also has a great arm and the Panthers could opt to let their QB get creative in red zone situations, taking the rushing out of Sanders' hands. PFF has the Philadelphia Eagles offensive line ranked first while the Panthers slot in at 16th. Sometimes, you don't know how good you had it until you leave. I think Miles Sanders will get a dose of that this season.

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D'Andre Swift, Philadelphia Eagles

OVER 4.5 rushing touchdowns (+112 FanDuel)

From the ex-Philadelphia Eagles running back to the current one, this is my favorite prop of the four mentioned in this article. I'm basically going to use the same logic for why I liked Sanders under prop and apply it to Swift. As just mentioned, Miles Sanders managed to score 11 rushing touchdowns last season for the Eagles. This was after he scored zero in 12 games in the 2021 season.

A big part of the reason that Philadelphia let Sanders walk in free agency was that Carolina was willing to pay him $6.25 million annually. Out goes Sanders and in comes Swift who is making just $1.7 million this season before becoming a UFA in 2024. Some may see Sanders as a big loss, but I believe you could just plug Swift into that role and he will have great success this season.

D'Andre Swift played his first three seasons on the Detroit Lions, scoring eight, five, and five rushing touchdowns, respectively. His numbers could've looked better but his teammate, Jamaal Williams, led all running backs with 17 rushing touchdowns. Swift was still able to show an ability to cross the goalline and scored all five of his rushing touchdowns inside the 20-yard line.

He will be the number one back in Philadelphia and the biggest threat to his rushing touchdown potential will be his quarterback, Jalen Hurts. The Eagles should once again have a high-powered offense and Swift could greatly benefit just like Sanders did a season ago.

Swift's pass-catching abilities have to be noted as they could result in some receiving touchdowns. Even if he catches three to four touchdowns, getting five rushing touchdowns is still attainable. The Eagles also have great receivers and that should continue to set up plenty of red-zone opportunities. Sanders had 11 rushing touchdowns but zero through the air last season. But there will be opportunities for Swift to do a little of everything. At plus value, I love this prop.

 

 



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