With Melvin Gordon continuing his holdout, Austin Ekeler is expected to be the chief beneficiary for the Chargers which means fantasy owners received good value on a player that was drafted in the middle rounds. Can fantasy owners start Ekeler with confidence in Week 1 against the Colts?
The Chargers are expected to use Ekeler along with Justin Jackson as long as Gordon is not with the team. Even if the carries are split between the two backs, Ekeler is likely to be the guy utilized in the passing game which is a particular plus for those in PPR leagues. Ekeler is a low-end RB2 or flex play for Week 1.
While we would like to see how the Chargers workload is going to play out, it is okay to start Ekeler as either your second running back or in the flex spot.
Ekeler Is a Low-End RB2 Start or Flex Play for Week 1 vs. Colts
If we see Ekeler gets the lion’s share of the carries, he could have greater upside for Week 2. Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn noted he plans to use both backs while Gordon is out.
“I’ve always used those guys as a tandem,” Lynn explained to ESPN. “That’s not going to change. We’re going to put guys in good positions to do what they do best.”
There is some concern that Jackson could get more goal-line carries, but this should not prevent you from putting Ekeler in your lineup. Ekeler has a good chance to hit double-digit fantasy points against the Colts, and his number should be a good deal higher in PPR leagues. The running back noted that his special-team duties will be paused for now which seems to indicate he is going to get touches.
“My mindset is to succeed within my role,” Ekeler noted to ESPN. “… There’s nothing outside my role that I’m thinking of. Right now my role is to play running back. I’m not special teams right now, so it’s just strictly playing running back this game.”
Melvin Gordon May Not Return Until Week 8
Ekeler’s long-term fantasy value continues to rise as long as Gordon’s holdout continues. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that Gordon may not end his holdout until “Week 6 through Week 8.”
The Chargers are beginning the season without running back Melvin Gordon, as one of their stars is still holding out. And the plan is for that to continue for some time.
Sources say that Gordon, who missed training camp because of his desire for a new contract, is expected to report this season. But the current plan is to report in the window that spans from Week 6 through Week 8.
Ekeler has an ADP of 58, per Fantasy Pros and the running back went even later in earlier drafts. While Ekeler still has some value when Gordon returns, his touches likely take a sizable hit when the star rusher is back in the lineup. For now, Ekeler should hover in the RB2 territory and is a solid play in PPR leagues. As always, feel free to reach out on Twitter @JonDAdams with any fantasy football-related questions.