RB Austin Ekeler - Los Angeles Chargers
|5-10, 200||Born: 5-17-1995||College: Western State (CO)||Drafted: ---|
Week 14: at Jacksonville Jaguars
FBG says: Good matchup. Melvin Gordon continues to perform well with a heavy workload in this Chargers backfield, averaging 19 carries and 76 rushing yards per game with three rushing touchdowns over his last four games. Austin Ekeler remains involved, but primarily in the passing game as he is seeing limited carries and doing very little with those rushing attempts. What has been big for Gordon is his per carry productivity, which has been a question mark for most of his career. Gordon has averaged nearly five yards per rush attempt in three straight games after mightily struggling to start his 2019 campaign. He is showing some great speed and tackle-breaking ability while running behind what has been a very shaky offensive line that is rarely making space for him. The Chargers did get both starting tackles back last week though, which should be a big boost for this unit that was otherwise ranking near the bottom of the league. The Jaguars may have allowed just 2.4 rushing yards per carry to Tampa Bay last week, but they still gave up a pair of rushing touchdowns in what was a blowout loss to the Buccaneers. This defense has really struggled against running backs in the past four weeks, giving up the most fantasy points per game to the position since Week 9. While these past few weeks have certainly been hard to watch, this defense actually did show the ability to shut down opposing backfields a few times earlier in the year--as they held opposing running backs to 75 or fewer rushing yards in five of their first eight games. However, they are still allowing the second-most rushing yards per attempt (5.1), the second-most rushing touchdowns (17), and more runs of 40 or more yards (6) than any other team in football. With inconsistent play from their talented defensive line and flat out terrible play from the linebacker position, regardless of who has been playing, this defense will offer a good opportunity for Melvin Gordon to continue his success in Week 14.
Recent Stats and Projections
Weekly Performance vs RB 1, RB 12, RB 24, RB 36
Austin Ekeler's percentile rank in each category, among RB with more than 50 fantasy points.
Recent Game Summaries
2019 Week 13 vs DEN (9 / 16 / 0 rush, 5 / 4 / 51 / 1 rec)
Ekeler couldn't get much going on the ground in this one, gaining eight yards on his longest run of the game and just eight yards total on his other eight rushing attempts. But he did some damage in the passing game. Late in the half, he was in single coverage against a linebacker and easily got away from him. Rivers hoisted a floater down the sideline perfectly in stride to Ekeler, who did the rest of the work himself. He was eventually met at the goal line by two defenders, bu the managed to bang into the end zone and hold onto the ball. What was also key about that play is that it was a designed pass to Ekeler where he was the first option, not simply a check-down option. Ekeler was a bit quieter in the second half, although he had one really nice individual effort that ended up not counting. Facing a lot of pressure in the pocket, Rivers dumped off a pass to Ekeler. Despite being surrounded by defenders, Ekeler managed to weave his way up the field and pick up 11 yards and a first down. The Chargers, however, were called for holding on the play which turned a first down into third and 20.
2019 Week 11 vs KC (5 / 24 / 0 rush, 12 / 8 / 108 / 0 rec)
Ekeler was very efficient in both the running and the passing game (though it should be noted that 18 of his 24 rushing yards came on one play, so his other four carries went for just six yards). That one long run resulted in taking it down nearly to the goal line early in the second quarter, a drive that resulted in a field goal. But it was the passing game where Ekeler certainly did the majority of his damage. His first reception was a swing pass where he was hit perfectly in stride. Rivers fired it out to him up the right side, and Ekeler did the rest darting 37 yards up the sideline for the huge early gain. Ekeler then saw a look from the 5-yard line on a crossing route, but the defender knocked it away at the last second. Even if it had been caught, the play wasn't really going anywhere. Ekeler had two more chunk plays late in the half, for 16 and 18 yards as he continued to be the go-to guy in the passing game for Rivers. In the second half, Ekeler was seen briefly getting looked at by the training staff, but he came back in a few plays later. Ekeler was targeted deep down the seam and while the pass fell incomplete, Ekeler did draw the long pass interference penalty when his arm was grabbed with the ball in the air. Curiously, Ekeler was also the target on the final play of the game. With the Chargers deep in Kansas City territory and driving for the potentially game-tying or game-winning score, Ekeler was targeted on a fade pattern in the end zone. The diminutive Ekeler was beaten to the ball by the much taller defender, which sealed the victory for Kansas City.
2019 Week 10 vs OAK (6 / 19 / 0 rush, 2 / 2 / 29 / 1 rec)
Ekeler's role shrank in this game, totaling only eight touches as opposed to 24 for Melvin Gordon. Normally a monster in the passing game, Ekeler saw a season-low two targets in the passing game. Fortunately for his owners, he made the most of those two opportunities. The first was on the first passing attempt of the game, getting open down the seam to pick up 23 yards. And the second was a crossing route late in the fourth quarter. He ran across the formation in tandem with Keenan Allen. Allen's defender essentially tackled Allen at the goal line, which had the unintended effect of taking the would-be tackler out of the play so that Ekeler could run in unscathed after catching the short pass. He dove ahead to the end zone for a short-lived Charger lead. On the ground, Ekeler had a tough time getting much going aside from one solid run for ten yards in the first half. He was given a short yardage attempt after Melvin Gordon briefly left the game (Gordon had been violently tackled at the 5-yard line and came off the field following the hit). EKeler was swallowed up by the Raider defense on the ensuing play, and Gordon returned to the field after missing just one play. While Gordon and Ekeler have played as a tandem over the last few weeks, this game saw the breakdown as much more of a starter/backup type of split, with Gordon obviously getting the lion's share of the workload.
2019 Week 9 vs GB (12 / 70 / 0 rush, 4 / 4 / 23 / 0 rec)
Ekeler didn't have any huge gainers like he had early in the season (in this game, his longest run went for 16 and his longest reception went for 12). And he again took a back seat to Melvin Gordon on overall touches (23-16 in favor of Gordon) and also relinquished goal line duties (Gordon scored twice from the goal line, without Ekeler getting in). But the split between the two players appeared to be precisely how the Chargers would prefer to attack teams with this 1-2 punch going forward. Ekeler was split out as a wide receiver at times, as the Chargers have made several attempts to figure out how to best deploy the duo. As usual, Ekeler looked very good with the ball in his hands. His only scoring opportunity came from the 2-yard line on a second half run to the left side. He looked to have a seam, but the defenders up front did a good job of quickly closing it up. Outside of that, he was a change of pace to Gordon more often than not although more of a complementary piece than a true backup. In recent weeks, Gordon has been seeing a lot more touches than Ekeler but in this game the coaching got those touches a bit closer. And not surprisingly, they had far more success than they'd been having in recent weeks. Ekeler briefly left the game after a first half run play and appeared to be pointing to his eye, but he returned soon after that showing no ill effects.
2019 Week 8 vs CHI (3 / 3 / 0 rush, 3 / 2 / 19 / 1 rec)
Ekeler couldn't have been quieter in the early going, with just one touch prior to halftime. This is a player who was dominating the offensive playbook in the early portion of the season. Ekeler's first handoff didn't come until 6:15 remained in the third quarter, as the team was almost abandoning the run for large chunks of the game due to a complete lack of success. He was wide open on a 2-yard inside slant, but some great awareness by Khalil Mack resulted in the pass being deflected away at the last moment to prevent what would have been an easy score. Later in that possession, Ekeler got an inside handoff from the 2-yard line, but was completely swallowed up by the Chicago defense on a very slowly-developing play. Finally late in the fourth quarter with the Chargers driving for the lead, Rivers found Ekeler in the flat off a play action fake. Ekeler caught the pass and was met by a linebacker at the 5-yard line, but Ekeler managed to slip the tackler and dart up the field for the score. He was hit hard at the end of the run, but all that did was help propel him even more into the end zone. That score gave the Chargers the lead, which they would not relinquish.
2019 Week 7 vs TEN (5 / 7 / 0 rush, 8 / 7 / 118 / 1 rec)
Melvin Gordon saw more touches than Ekeler (18-12), but once again Ekeler was far more productive (125 yards from scrimmage for Ekeler, compared to just 29 for Gordon). Gordon also had a couple of costly goal line fumbles (only one was lost, but it ended the game) and was sloppy with a few other touches as well. On top of that, Ekeler actually played well himself. His first few receptions all went for first downs or close to it, dragging tackles up the field with him at times. He again showed how quickly he can get to top speed, and excellent vision to pick up yards where other players may not have that same ability to. In the second half, the Chargers found themselves down by ten. Philip Rivers used a quick strike offense to lead the team on a four-play, 75-yard drive, the big play being a 41-yard bomb to Ekeler down the sideline for the easy score. Ekeler had beaten the linebacker off the line and was wide open, waltzing in the last few yards to get the Chargers to within three points. Ekeler was essentially playing wide receiver in the fourth quarter, grabbing a slant over the middle to get inside the 20-yard line. And then later he grabbed a pass over the middle, dragged multiple defenders with him, and appeared to get in for the go-ahead touchdown. Replays showed he was just short of the end zone, and overturned the touchdown. Despite having time and multiple opportunities to get in from inside the 1-yard line, the Chargers failed to convert the score (and notably, didn't put the ball in Ekeler's hands on any of the goal line attempts to score).
2019 Week 6 vs PIT (5 / 14 / 0 rush, 4 / 3 / 14 / 0 rec)
Ekeler ran behind Melvin Gordon in this one but had few quality moments. He was engulfed on his early touches, but had a nice run to open the second half once the team was down 21 points. He showed more speed than Devin Bush on a 2nd half catch to get a short gain, but had little effect on the outcome of the game.
2019 Week 5 vs DEN (3 / 7 / 0 rush, 16 / 15 / 86 / 0 rec)
With Melvin Gordon reporting to the team and getting his first action in this week's game, owners were eager to see how the Chargers would divvy up the workload. This game probably wasn't a typical representation of how things will shake out moving forward, but it did provide some clues as to the percentage breakdown we can possibly expect. Ekeler had more total touches (18-16), but Gordon had more rushing attempts (12-3). Ekeler didn't see his first touch of the game until more than 11 minutes into the first quarter, and that resulted in a swing pass for a first down. There would be many more swing passes and checkdowns to Ekeler, who turned in a whopping fifteen receptions to set a team record. Granted, much of that work came in the fourth quarter with the Chargers in catch-up mode (4-43 on the last garbage time drive featuring almost no defense). As for the quality of the rest of his touches, he did get some red zone and goal line work. Late in the first half, the Chargers got into the red zone with a chance to score. Rivers found Ekeler who made a nice grab in the flat. He turned and lunged for the end zone, but was kept away from the goal line by the defender who made a tremendous tackle. On the ensuing fourth down play, the Chargers faked the run to Melvin Gordon and instead handed to Ekeler up the left side. He appeared to get to the edge and was headed for the end zone, but just as he lunged for the goal line the ball was knocked loose. It was fumbled into the end zone, and the Chargers came up empty. It wasn't the best sign for his short yardage and goal line work moving forward, considering how successful Gordon has been on the goal line since his rookie season. One other negative on his ledger was a piece of miscommunication between Ekeler and Rivers on what was supposed to be a second down handoff. Ekeler misread the play call and didn't realize he was supposed to be getting the handoff. The busted play resulted in Rivers holding onto the ball and taking a 3-yard loss. Mistakes happen, but again it's bad timing to make mistakes like that with Gordon now back in the fold.
2019 Week 4 vs MIA (18 / 60 / 1 rush, 5 / 5 / 62 / 1 rec)
Troymaine Pope was listed as the de facto starter, but it was Ekeler who got the first carry of the game. He had a tough time in the early going as the Dolphins did a nice job of cutting off the edge repeatedly, but Ekeler finally started to get things going late in the first half. As usual, he consistently fell forward on his rushing attempts, and he was busy in the passing game too. On one of those, he snagged a swing pass from Rivers and shot up the left sideline for the easy score. In the second half, a crossing route resulted in another big gain. The key was the play of the offensive line in giving Rivers time to wait for these plays to develop. The line also played a key role in Ekeler's second touchdown of the game. He took a handoff out of shotgun from Rivers and plunged in for the score, featuring some excellent line blocking up front. Ekeler is the only player who has carried the ball inside the 5-yard line for the Chargers this season, but that will likely change next week with the return of Melvin Gordon. The return of Gordon is likely to affect how many touches Ekeler sees in total, but he has been extremely impressive in his own right and has likely earned at least a decent share of the backfield work. He has proven adept at short yardage work as well as passing game work, and his strength is very underrated. On one play in particular, a swarm of Dolphins attempted a gang tackle and Ekeler still gained two yards on the play. A 2-yard run isn't impressive in and of itself, but it's the fact that it went for two positive yards rather than a loss of 3-4 yards that was the most impressive aspect. He almost never goes down on first contact or gets knocked backwards.
2019 Week 3 vs HOU (9 / 36 / 0 rush, 7 / 7 / 45 / 0 rec)
Austin Ekeler had a down game after entering week three as the leading scoring running back in PPR scoring. Ekeler saw volume with 16 touches, but he was not able to create big plays like he has the previous two weeks. He was elusive in the running game and buoyed his day catching all seven of his targets, but they were not targets that set him up for success. For example, Philip Rivers threw him a target on the outside that hung in the air and made Ekeler an easy tackle for a closing defensive back for minimal gain. Ekeler faces a prime matchup next week at Miami and should be the primary running back as Melvin Gordon continues his holdout.
2019 Week 2 vs DET (17 / 66 / 1 rush, 6 / 6 / 67 / 0 rec)
Austin Ekeler was terrific in a game where he could have had a massive day. Ekeler converted a goal-line touchdown early in the game, but had a reception for a long touchdown called back by a holding and fumbled at the goal line on a point-blank opportunity. He was elusive throughout the game, consistently making life difficult for the first defender. Ekeler out-touched Justin Jackson 23 to 8, a continued sign of his lead back role in the Melvin Gordon-less Chargers offense. Ekeler projects to be the lead back against Texans in week three.
2019 Week 1 vs IND (12 / 58 / 1 rush, 7 / 6 / 96 / 2 rec)
The stat line makes it obvious, but Ekeler may have played even better than the statistics suggest. He was very busy from the opening series all the way through to the game-winning touchdown run, and dominated in just about every way possible. The Chargers designed numerous plays specifically for him, and he took advantage of the room the offensive line was opening up for him up-front. His first score of the game came on a 3-TE set when he leaked out of the backfield to get wide open in the end zone. It was a perfect play design, and he was mostly just the beneficiary of some lapsed coverage. That wasn't the case on his second score, when he took a very well-blocked screen reception up the right side with blockers in front. Once the defense met him, they tried to strip the ball instead of just going for the tackle. Ekeler proved too strong to be dragged down by strip attempts and weak arm tackles, and kept charging ahead. One last block sprung him ahead for the 55-yard score. On the overtime possession, he showed a lot of patience running west to east before finding the seam and bursting through it. He later capped that drive with a twisting run into the end zone to end the game, breaking a tackle at the 2-yard line before lunging for the goal line and his third score of the game. With Melvin Gordon's holdout continuing and showing no end in sight, Ekeler is proving to be extremely valuable at least in the short term.
Latest NewsChargers | Austin Ekeler scores 10th TD of 2019 (Mon Dec 2, 12:44 AM) - Los Angeles Chargers RB Austin Ekeler caught four passes for 51 yards and a touchdown in a Week 13 loss to the Denver Broncos. Ekeler also ran the ball nine times for 16 yards. link to story
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|14||@ Jacksonville Jaguars|
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