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RB Austin Ekeler - Los Angeles Chargers

5-10, 200Born: 5-17-1995College: Western State (CO)Drafted: ---

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Photo: Jay Biggerstaff, US Presswire

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Week 21: bye week

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Recent Stats and Projections

17 at DEN 15 8 58 1 1 0 0 0 0 11.8
18 at BAL 39 11 29 0 4 4 14 0 0 4.3
19 at NE 25 0 0 0 5 3 19 0 0 1.9

Weekly Performance vs RB 1, RB 12, RB 24, RB 36

Percentile ranks

Austin Ekeler's percentile rank in each category, among RB with more than 50 fantasy points.

Recent Game Summaries

2018 Week 19 vs NE (0 / 0 / 0 rush, 5 / 3 / 19 / 0 rec)

Austin Ekeler had a quiet game against the Chargers. He was used on an end around and targeted on an out and up that did not fool Kyle Van Noy. He did have some garbage time receptions to salvage a small stat line, but his production came when the game was no longer in doubt.

2018 Week 18 vs BAL (11 / 29 / 0 rush, 4 / 4 / 14 / 0 rec)

Austin Ekeler saw 15 touches against the Ravens. An injury that limited Melvin Gordon and the conservative game plan combined to give Ekeler a prominent role in the offense. The Chargers struggled to generate running room against the Ravens, and Ekeler was no different. In the passing game, Ekeler had receptions that set up a field goal at the end of the second quarter. Ekeler was able to make initial defenders miss during the game, but the Ravens defense was relentless and allowed few opportunities for big gains. While Justin Jackson had two carries in the fourth quarter, it was Ekeler who handled the primary duties in Gordon's absence. Gordon's status is important to watch heading into New England next weekend.

2018 Week 17 vs DEN (8 / 58 / 1 rush, 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 rec)

In his first game back since suffering a neck injury several weeks ago, Ekeler ended up putting up the best fantasy stats from the running back spot. He played sporadically in tandem with starter Melvin Gordon for most of the game. But late in the game, Gordon appeared to injure his ankle which gave Ekeler the chance to carry the load. Ekeler gained 41 yards on his first touch after the Gordon injury, breaking the first tackle in the backfield before showing some nice shifty moves in the open field en route to rumbling down the sideline for the big gain. A Keenan Allen reception put the ball on the doorstep of the end zone. And with Gordon remaining on the sideline nursing the ankle injury, Ekeler was called upon for a goal line carry. He pushed over the line for the score, Los Angeles's first offensive touchdown on the ground in the last ten meetings against Denver.

2018 Week 14 vs CIN (15 / 66 / 1 rush, 5 / 2 / 28 / 0 rec)

Ekeler had a very solid game, but a late game injury has suddenly put his weekly availability into some doubt. Coming into the game, it was a bit up in the air as to how the Chargers would approach the decision on how to split up the running back workload. It was assumed all season long that Ekeler was the go-to handcuff to Melvin Gordon, but when Gordon missed last week's game, it was Justin Jackson who looked significantly more impressive running the ball. Any questions about Ekeler, however, were answered early on in this one. He got the first carry of the game and was in the backfield to start, and rarely left the field especially in the early going. He ran very well, displaying his trademark strength and agility, and picked up chunks of yardage behind some excellent blocking up front against the outmanned Cincinnati defense. He found creases between the tacklers, and whenever he was met by a tackler he just ran through the mostly weak attempts to bring him down. Ekeler picked up nice yardage on a well-designed screen pass down to the 5-yard line to close out the first quarter. The rest between quarters enabled him enough of a breather that he stayed in the backfield to pick up the touchdown from 5 yards out. He took it right up the middle almost untouched on his way to the end zone. Later in the first half, he was wide open down the sideline on a deep ball attempt that could have gone for another score. But Rivers was rushed a bit on the throw, and the pass sailed too far over Ekeler's head and out of bounds. Ekeler received three straight carries on the first possession of the second half following a Cincinnati turnover on downs, and even converted a 4th and 1 rush up the middle. The rest of the half, he simply dragged defenders around the field and ended up out-touching Jackson by a final count of 17-9. Unfortunately for Ekeler, he was injured on the onside kick late in the fourth quarter and it was reported afterwards that he had aggravated a stinger injury. His availability for Thursday's game against Kansas City is very much in question at this early point, and with Melvin Gordon expected out once again, this may be Jackson's turn to man the backfield for the Chargers.

2018 Week 13 vs PIT (13 / 21 / 0 rush, 8 / 5 / 22 / 0 rec)

Ekeler had almost no room to run whatsoever, getting swarmed by Pittsburgh defenders nearly every time he got near the football. The defense softened up just a bit in the second half, allowing him to at least get some positive yardage gains, but still found mostly tough sledding. It's important to note that Ekeler had 18 touches to Justin Jackson's 9, but it's equally important to note that Ekeler's 13 carries resulted in just 21 yards whereas Jackson's 8 carries resulted in 63 yards (including an 18-yard touchdown scamper in the fourth quarter). Late in the game, Ekeler took a huge hit on an attempted screen pass out of the backfield. It was ruled that he never fully had possession on the play; otherwise, it would have been ruled a fumble. Finally, Ekeler contributed a positive play late in the game when he was the bailout option for Rivers just before he was about to get sacked. But otherwise, it was an uninspiring performance as the team's de facto featured back. This was the second time this season Ekeler has gotten an opportunity to be the lead guy, and it was the second time he underwhelmed. It is also noteworthy that it was Jackson and not Ekeler who was in the game on the potential game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter.

2018 Week 12 vs ARI (5 / 35 / 1 rush, 11 / 10 / 68 / 0 rec)

Ekeler was red-hot against the Cardinals, especially seeing a team-high 11 targets and fueling a touchdown drive in hurry-up mode to close the first half. Even before Melvin Gordon's mid-third quarter injury Ekeler was seeing a myriad of snaps, including as a slot receiver and motioning before the snap. Ekeler had five receptions on the late-second quarter drive alone and commonly made the first defender miss on his touches. Even with Melvin Gordon out for most of the season half, Justin Jackson saw most of the traditional running back carries, not Ekeler. With a blowout game script as the Chargers bled the clock and even pulled Philip Rivers for most of the fourth quarter, there was not clarity on how the running back snaps would be distributed in a more competitive game script.

2018 Week 11 vs DEN (6 / 29 / 0 rush, 2 / 2 / 40 / 0 rec)

Ekeler was out-touched by Melvin Gordon 24-8, but was even more productive on a per-touch basis. The Broncos were selling out on the run for most of the first half, so there wasn't much room for either player. In the second half, the two lined up in the backfield on occasion and were effective in doing so. Ekeler had several big chunk gains in the second half, including a 17-yard reverse, a swing pass for 17, and a crossing route over the middle for 23. On the crossing route, he beat his tackler up the right sideline and picked up big yardage after the catch. It was reported late that Ekeler left the game with a minor injury following a return, but no update was provided on his condition immediately after the game.

2018 Week 10 vs OAK (3 / 19 / 0 rush, 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 rec)

Ekeler's performance in this game is precisely the reason we write these recaps. His stat line shows three rushing attempts for 19 nondescript yards. But Russell Okung was called for a holding penalty on what would have been a 42-yard touchdown run by Ekeler in the second half. The worst part of it for Ekeler owners is that the hold happened well away from the ball, and Ekeler would have easily scored even without the penalty being committed. He did a great job of hitting the hole on a 2nd and 1 attempt, scampering up the middle for the doomed score. Ekeler also later added another very strong run late in the game that would have converted for another first down, but once again Okung nullified the run with another penalty. Ekeler dragged would-be tacklers across the line to gain, but it was all for naught.

2018 Week 9 vs SEA (3 / 21 / 0 rush, 2 / 1 / 13 / 0 rec)

With Melvin Gordon returning after missing the last game due to a hamstring injury, one might have expected more of a timeshare between the two backs in this game. That certainly wasn't the case, as Gordon had 17 touches to Ekeler's four. Ekeler did do very well with those four touches, totaling almost forty yards from scrimmage (including one run for 11 yards where he barely had his foot tripped up at the last second; otherwise, he had a lot of room in front of him). Ekeler's lone reception came on a dumpoff early in the second half. Never one to shy from contact, he caught it behind the line of scrimmage, turned it upfield, and ran right into the tackler while falling forward to pick up the first down.

2018 Week 7 vs TEN (12 / 42 / 0 rush, 7 / 5 / 26 / 0 rec)

Ekeler fought for every yard he gained in the game, but it was clear that the Titans made it a point to take him out of the equation. He averaged just 3.5 yards per carry after coming into the game averaging 6.4 per carry. The downside for the Titans is that the focus on Ekeler seemed to cause them to forget about the passing game, as they gave up long touchdowns of 75 and 55 yards to the Charger wide receivers. Ekeler ran hard, even seeking out contact at times. But the Titans did a great job of stringing runs out to the outside and/or meeting him in the backfield, so Ekeler had a really tough time getting into any kind of rhythm. On a positive note, the running backs saw a total of 20 touches in the game, and Ekeler got 17 of those. So in a game where Melvin Gordon wasn't active, Ekeler was seen as an every-down back and not just a piece of a committee.

2018 Week 6 vs CLE (7 / 60 / 0 rush, 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 rec)

Ekeler didn't enter the game until early in the second quarter, and immediately needed to save the day. On an ill-advised flea-flicker throwback from Keenan Allen to Philip Rivers, the bad throw ended up on the ground with Cleveland defenders all around it. Ekeler smartly pounced on the football, at least saving possession for the Chargers. Ekeler didn't see an offensive touch until just over ten minutes remained in the third quarter. But he sort of made up for lost time with seven handoffs in the second half, breaking loose for long gains of 16 and 20 and generally picking up where Gordon left off. He once again did an incredible job of fighting off tacklers. On one carry, he was seemingly wrapped up until his excellent balance kept his feet moving into the open field. The duo is benefitting from some excellent blocking up front, but also showing tremendous individual efforts on a weekly basis.

2018 Week 5 vs OAK (6 / 15 / 0 rush, 3 / 1 / 44 / 1 rec)

After getting a late start in last week's game, Ekeler came on early in this one. Melvin Gordon had a long run early on, and Ekeler immediately entered. But he didn't really make his presence felt until later in the half. Rivers hit him with a short screen and he was met in the flat by two defenders. One lightning-fast cut to the inside later, and both defenders were on the ground as Ekeler was taking off for the end zone. He shot up the left sideline following one block, and he was gone for the 44-yard touchdown scamper. Late in the game with the Chargers trying to run out the clock, it was Ekeler and not Gordon who got the call to grind out the tough yardage. Ekeler nearly broke into the end zone for his second touchdown, but was just barely tripped up as he got inside the 5-yard line.

2018 Week 4 vs SF (8 / 25 / 0 rush, 3 / 2 / 31 / 1 rec)

Ekeler didn't even register his first touch until just over three minutes remained in the first half, but it was a nice upfield cut for a 7-yard gain. He made up for lost time in a hurry, however, by hauling in a 22-yard touchdown late in the first half. He was lined up wide as a receiver, and simply outran his man off the line. Rivers found him perfectly in stride with a bullet pass in the end zone. The defender was sort of holding EKeler's arm as he caught it (not illegally), but he still managed to hang on. He was involved as usual in the second half, and he ended up with 10 total touches from scrimmage despite the limited early work.

2018 Week 3 vs LAR (4 / 47 / 0 rush, 3 / 3 / 24 / 0 rec)

As quiet as Ekeler was in the first half, he did some damage after halftime. He picked up 32 of his 47 rushing yards on one run, slithering his way in and out of would-be tacklers up the middle. He found a small hole, then bounced across the grain after a broken tackle before covering up the ball at the end of the run en route to a career-long rush. He added a nice reception that also doubled as a way to bail out Philip Rivers, who was under pressure from the defense. Ekeler was leaking out behind Rivers and into the flat, so Rivers dumped it off to him. Ekeler's defender thought he had him squared up, but again his surprising speed got him the edge where he then tip-toed the sideline for a 15-yard pickup. Unfortunately, Ekeler's day didn't end as well as it began. He was targeted on a fourth down pass attempt with the game on the line, but Rivers threw it short of the marker. So Ekeler had to make an effort to extend the ball past the line to convert. But he was met by multiple defenders, and the ball was punched out where it was recovered by the Rams for a turnover. Mike Williams came very close to recovering the ball on the ground (and it might have been a first down if he had), but the Rams defender barely beat him to it.

2018 Week 2 vs BUF (11 / 77 / 0 rush, 3 / 3 / 21 / 0 rec)

For the second straight week, Ekeler very much had a role in the offense apart from just being Melvin Gordon's backup or change of pace. He took a swing pass for a first down, and soon added a jet sweep up the right side for a 15-yard gain (Gordon was on the field at the same time for the handoff). Ekeler was just so slippery, moving his way in and out of the way of defenders almost at will. But he wasn't all speed and shake, since he leveled more than a handful of defenders at the end of his runs to constantly fall forward and pick up extra yardage. Late in the first half, Gordon left the game with a knee issue and Ekeler was given a larger workload. Gordon again left the game in the second half, this time presumably with a neck injury, and again Ekeler was leaned on. Gordon did come back in for one play before leaving for good (suggesting it wasn't a serious injury), but Ekeler was pretty much the go-to guy from that point on. Late in the game, he was given a goal line attempt but was unable to push the pile for the score. Shortly thereafter, a low snap to Philip Rivers nearly resulted in a turnover, but Ekeler was there to pounce on he loose ball and save possession for the Chargers.

2018 Week 1 vs KC (5 / 39 / 0 rush, 5 / 5 / 87 / 1 rec)

Ekeler teamed with Melvin Gordon to form a strong 1-2 punch in this game, which looks like it may be a preview of their usage patterns throughout the season. After a training camp featuring a lot of speculation of Ekeler having a regular role (rather than just a true backup role), Ekeler found himself very involved in the game plan as a complementary piece in the running game. He showed extremely tough running on the inside, almost never going down on first contact and dragging defenders for yards at a time. And despite Gordon leading all players in receptions, Ekeler found himself as a key piece in the passing game as well. He demonstrated excellent concentration and acrobatics on a deep ball down the left sideline that may have been intended for Keenan Allen. Allen deflected it with one hand and Ekeler managed to reach up and hang on with one hand of his own despite being blanketed by a defender. He then absorbed a huge hit from a defender, which added even more yardage on the penalty. Late in the first half, Rivers hoisted a floater up to him in the end zone in single coverage. Again he absorbed a big hit just as the ball got there, but he managed to hang on for the score. Just as importantly as his apparently regular usage pattern, is the fact that he appears in line for a regular featured role to himself if anything were to happen to Gordon.


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