As we gear up to the start of the NFL season, Football Absurdity is going to bring you a comprehensive breakdown of every notable player that will be available in fantasy football drafts. We only look at the past three seasons for a player. Austin Ekeler is the main guy in Los Angeles now (and that includes the Rams) after Melvin Gordon went off to division rival Denver. Does he have it in him to give a repeat performance of his 2019 campaign? What should we expect of him in 2020 fantasy football leagues?
Austin Ekeler ADP and AAV:
Standard Scoring ADP: RB13, 26 overall
PPR Scoring ADP: RB9, 14 overall
Average Auction Value: $39
Austin Ekeler Statistics:
Austin Ekeler Overview:
The #1 reason why I see that Austin Ekeler won’t be a top-five running back again is… Joshua Kelley? Or, maybe, Justin Jackson? Really? Okay, let’s assume the Joshua Kelley and Justin Jackson combo sucks up Melvin Gordon’s workload. What is left for Austin Ekeler?
Let’s look at Austin Ekeler’s workload after Melvin Gordon was up and running, so games eight through sixteen only. In these games, Ekeler averaged 12.6 touches per game (7.5 carries and 5.1 receptions). Ekeler turned these touches and receptions into 99.1 yards per game, with most of that coming through the air (two separate 100+ yard receiving games in this span). Ekeler also had three touchdowns in the eight games. That is incredible yardage production, which comes out to just under 1,600 yards over the course of the season.
Again, this is a slice of Ekeler’s production after Melvin Gordon had come back, and after Melvin Gordon re-established his role as the team’s #1 running back. For reference, Gordon had 18.7 touches per game in this timespan or just about 50% more touches than Ekeler.
He averaged 99 yards per game as the smaller part of a 60/40 timeshare with Melvin Gordon last year. In the shorter-end of the platoon, he was RB4, RB6, or RB7 in PPR, HPPR, or standard scoring. He was a beast, even with a limited workload.
My takeaway? Even if you fear the Kelley/Justin Jackson combo, there’s nothing to fear with Ekeler.
Austin Ekeler Draft Strategy:
I am all-in on Austin Ekeler this season. If he’s there for me in the second round, he’s on my roster. There is no thinking or deliberation about it. He’s RB14 off the board in standard scoring and RB9 off the board in PPR, both well behind his production with Melvin Gordon in 2019. I am not scared of the career third-stringer or the middle-round pick taking touches away from Ekeler. He will be a great value on draft day and will allow you to walk out of the second round with two RB1s on your roster.
Best Case Scenario:
Joshua Kelley and Justin Jackson are relegated to roster afterthoughts as Austin Ekeler shined (like what happened last season before Gordon returned).
Worst Case Scenario:
Joshua Kelley and Justin Jackson consume not just Austin Ekeler’s touches and workload, but Ekeler himself. They slowly feast on him throughout the course of the season, absorbing his power.
[Statistics are sourced from pro-football-reference.com and airyards.com]