The stars may be aligning for Los Angeles Chargers running back Justin Jackson to get his big opportunity to shine. While the rookie has looked good while receiving extra work due to Melvin Gordon’s injury, his outlook for Week 15 is quickly trending upward. Although Chargers coach Anthony Lynn first attempted to keep optimism high on Gordon possibly playing, a report shortly after shifted off that.
As NFL Networks’ Steve Wyche revealed, both Gordon and backup running Austin Ekeler’s injuries have left the Chargers concerned over their status for Thursday’s Week 15 game.
This isn’t all that surprising, especially considering that Ekeler suffered his injury on Sunday while Gordon’s knee injury came just one week prior. With the Chargers set for a short week, they may need to rely on Jackson as the go-to option for a crucial Thursday night game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Justin Jackson’s Week 15 Matchup
The Chiefs are up there as one of the best teams in the NFL, but they’ve had their fair share of struggles against running backs this season. The numbers bode incredibly well for Jackson, who’s flashed some upside throughout the early stages of his career, at least when his number has been called.
On the year, Kansas City has allowed 1,440 rushing yards on 281 carries with 11 touchdowns. They’ve also given up 85 receptions for 831 yards and six touchdowns to opposing running backs. If you factor in both Gordon and Ekeler potentially being out, it would lead to Jackson potentially seeing the upwards of 20 touches, including receptions.
In a game that will almost certainly decide whether the Chargers have a chance at the AFC West title, Jackson is in an elite spot with a huge opportunity. And for fantasy football players who have him on their roster and are currently in the playoffs, this couldn’t come at a better time.
Realistic Fantasy Expectations for Justin Jackson
The Chargers do have to travel to Arrowhead for this game, so it’ll be a tall task for Philip Rivers and company. But depending on how they opt to approach this matchup, it would set Jackson up for a potentially big day. It’s realistic to assume the Chargers could use the ground game as a way to keep the ball out of the hands of Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
Even last week against the Bengals, Ekeler received 15 carries while Jackson saw seven of his own. Although potential backup Detrez Newsome would receive some work as well, Jackson should easily hit double-digit rushing attempts for the first time in his career. The rookie from Northwestern received nine total touches last game (two receptions), but Ekeler’s 17 touches will be up for grabs.
Based on the expected workload and the matchup, if both Gordon and Ekeler are out, Jackson is a fantasy start in all formats for virtually any league with 10 teams or more in Week 15.