Austin Ekeler
Are we sure that Austin Ekeler is a workhorse back? Should we concerned that he won’t get the neccessary volume for fantasy elite status. (Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

Melvin Gordon is out of town, so that means sunshine and rainbows for Austin Ekeler, right? Fantasy players should be all in on the Chargers running back. Conventional wisdom would back that analysis. However, are we sure Austin Ekeler is a workhorse back in 2020? I’m not 100% positive.

Talent and opportunity create fantasy success. I know that Ekler is talented. In 46 career games, Ekeler is averaging 4.6 yards per carry and is coming off close to 1,000 receiving yards in 2019. Ekeler is a unique back that can do it in both the run and pass game.

Ekeler touted the rock only 132 times last year. Many expect that number to go up. What if that’s not the case?

One of the most underrated storylines for the Chargers is that they might not need Melvin Gordon. That has nothing to do with Ekeler. It’s because Justin Jackson is talented himself. The former Northwestern product averaged 6.9 yards per carry last year. Sure, it only came on 29 carries, but everything he touched turned to gold.

Although Jackson is a smaller back and only ran a 4.52, he feels much more explosive than that. When Jackson has gotten an opportunity, good things have happened. He’s also shown an ability to catch the ball out of the backfield very well.

What if Jackson is 65% of Ekeler? Does that not deserve a role in the offense? We also forget about another player. I don’t think the Chargers just picked Joshua Kelley in the fourth-round not to use him. Sure, Ekeler and Jackson can run inside the tackles, but that’s not why they’re valuable. Kelley looks a lot more like Gordon did for LA.

Kelley checks in at 5-foot-11, 219 pounds, and is a more traditional runner. What if Kelley is a touchdown stealer? Despite only playing in 12 games, Gordon scored eight touchdowns. Why can’t Kelley do that in 16 games? That’s a concern if you’re an Ekeler fantasy owner.

I’m not sure any of it matters. Ekeler is the type of player that you look down at the box score, and you say to yourself – “When did Ekeler score 25 points?!? Who, what where, how“? That’s Ekeler. He will find a way to score no matter what. I don’t think we can ignore the other backs on the roster.

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