Austin Ekeler continues to ball out in fantasy football. He has a markedly higher upside in any form of points per reception leagues due to his involvement in the passing game. His 94 targets were tied for the most in the league. Ekeler is a big fan of fantasy football himself and he acts as he drafts himself with the way he plays.
The Los Angeles Chargers finished the 2022 season with a 9-8 record and in third place in the AFC West. The offense still has Justin Herbert, Keenan Allen and Mike Williams holding it down with the run game going through Ekeler. The team did manage his workload throughout the season giving backup running backs more run. Don’t let this deter you from drafting Ekeler and he should still be treated as a top running back in fantasy.
2021 season statistics & fantasy finish
Rushing: Ekeler ran 206 times for 911 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns last year. He averaged 4.4 yards per attempt.
Receiving: Ekeler was targeted 94 times and brought in 70 of them for 647 yards and eight more touchdowns.
Fantasy: Ekeler finished as the overall RB2 in half-point PPR scoring with 308.8 fantasy points on the year. He had 19.3 fantasy points per game which were the third-most in the NFL.
Los Angeles Chargers offseason moves
Los Angeles drafted Texas A&M RB Isaiah Spiller in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL Draft. He will likely be the thunder to Ekeler’s lightning, but shouldn’t take that much overall work away from the incumbent starting running back. The Chargers also shored up their offensive line by drafting Boston College OG Zion Johnson in the first round.
2022 best case scenario
The best case scenario for Ekeler is that he will remain atop the league for fantasy running backs. If Ekeler is able to tally over 1,000 rushing yards, and still maintain his receiving and touchdown numbers, he will finish as a top-three back in fantasy. If Jonathan Taylor takes a step back and Derrick Henry starts to struggle, there is a way for Ekeler to finish as the overall RB1 in all of fantasy football.
2022 worst case scenario
If Spiller eats more into Ekeler’s workload like Melvin Gordon used to, Ekeler’s value is going to drop. 94 targets and 70 receptions are easy to regress from and if he sees less usage in the passing game, that is going to lower his ceiling no matter the format. Ekeler could finish as the overall RB1, but he could also easily fall and finish as a mid-range RB2 if he loses usage.
Ekeler is in for a big year. I think the Chargers will try to manage his workload, but I don’t think he is limited enough that it will hurt his fantasy value. He is going to be a PPR god once again and is still going to have incredible in standard leagues. I’m expecting big things from the Chargers offense this season and that pertains to Ekeler balling out and finishing as a solid RB1.