The NFL season kickoff is next Thursday and that means this is the last week without NFL football until February.
There are plenty of great running backs in the NFL and the rushing title will be highly contested.
Last year, Jonathan Taylor of the Indianapolis Colts won the award and he is the favorite again in 2022.
Titans running back, Derrick Henry has the second-best odds to win the rushing title after having 2,027 rushing yards in 2020.
But, there are a few dark-horse running backs that will have the opportunity to surpass Taylor and Henry.
Each guy will be one of the main focal points of their offense and if they can stay healthy, has a chance to put up monster numbers.
Without further ado, here are three dark horse running backs for the NFL rushing title.
3. D’Andre Swift, Detroit Lions
Entering his third NFL season it is time for the Lions to unleash Swift.
The 23-year-old running back has played 26 games in two seasons and rushed for 1,138 yards and 13 touchdowns.
He has a chance to match or hopefully go over that number in 2022.
Last season, Swift was 30th in the league in carries per game with 151.
But, he is explosive when he does get the ball.
The third-year player had eight breakaway runs last year which are carries of 15+ yards.
Also, he was fifth in the NFL in yards created last season with 869.
His 4.08 yards created per touch were the best in all of the NFL.
He has everything you look for in a workhorse running back, all he needs is the opportunity.
The Lions have even invested heavily in their offensive line in recent years and now have one of the best units in the league.
PFF ranked Detroit as the third-best offensive line in the NFL.
If Swift can get 200+ carries this season he has a chance to put together a special season on the ground.
2. Saquon Barkley, New York Giants
The former second-overall pick has suffered from injuries these past two seasons.
But, in his only fully healthy season in 2018, Barkley rushed for 1,307 yards.
His ability has never been in question with Barkley, it is just health.
This offseason, Barkley said he is feeling better than ever.
Saquon Barkley is better than ever 😈 pic.twitter.com/fCw4jx7ILI
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) August 23, 2022
He missed four games last season with a low-ankle sprain.
If he can return to 2018 form, he has a great shot at the rushing title.
The former Nittany Lion is a big play waiting to happen.
In 2018, he has 18 breakaway runs and 114 evaded tackles.
Those ranked third and first in the NFL respectively.
Hopefully, Barkley can play in all 17 games this season and will produce giant numbers.
1. Javonte Williams, Denver Broncos
The Denver Broncos’ second-year running back may not be known by many but he is a very good player.
Denver drafted him in the second round of the 2021 draft and he was shadowed by Melvin Gordon last year.
But, this season the Broncos seem poised to give Williams the bell-cow role.
Gordon even recognizes that this is now Williams’ backfield.
Melvin Gordon knows that it is time for the Javonte Williams breakout 🐎 pic.twitter.com/4PSRIWzs96
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) August 17, 2022
Williams is a broken tackle machine.
He had 81 evaded tackles and a 32.9% juke rate which both ranked eighth in the NFL last season.
All the former second-round pick needs to compete for the rushing title is opportunity.
He had a 49.9% snap share last year with Gordon also in the backfield.
The hope is that number will skyrocket to 65-70% in 2022.
With Russell Wilson under center in Denver, opposing teams can no longer stack the box against the run.
More rushing lanes should be open and Williams will be the main beneficiary.