It’s that time of year once again! Football Absurdity will bring you a breakdown of every notable fantasy football-relevant player throughout June, July, and August. We continue with the running backs. Today, we take a look at a player who made his way into the upper echelons of the position thanks to the addition of a young stud quarterback as well as the team finally giving him goal-line carries. What can we expect in fantasy football from Austin Ekeler in 2022?
Austin Ekeler ADP and AAV:
Average Draft Position: RB2, Pick 2
Average Auction Value: $65
Austin Ekeler Statistics:
|Year||G||GS||Rush||Ru Yds||Ru TD||Tgt||Rec||Yards||TD||Touches||Opp||Total Yards|
|Year||Std Pts||HPPR Pts||PPR Pts||Pts/G||HPPR Pts/G||PPR Pts/G||Pts/Tch||HPPR Pts/Tch||PPR Pts/Tch|
2022 Austin Ekeler Fantasy Football Overview:
Last offseason, I pegged Austin Ekeler as one of the players most likely to enter the Mile From Scrimmage club (1,760 yards from scrimmage over the course of the season), and while he fell short of that, he still paid off spectacularly for me and other fantasy managers who felt like Ekeler was on the verge of a breakout. He topped 224 touches for the first time in his career and led all running backs in targets last season, as well. He also ranked second in red zone touches and had ten of these on the goal line. Compare that to the entirety of the rest of his career, wherein he had 10 goal line carries in four years combined.
Ekeler led the NFL (tied with Jonathan Taylor) with 20 touchdowns last season and ranked third in yards created, and eighth in yards per touch among running backs. This is all to say that Austin Ekeler is #goodatfootball, and the Chargers finally unleashed him in and around the goal line. He rewarded them, not only by scoring double-digit touchdowns for the second time in his career but by leading the league in touchdowns. Ekeler also played 16 games for the second time in three years. Yes, I know the NFL has 17 games now, but Ekeler missed a game with COVID-19, a little-known respiratory infection.
2022 Austin Ekeler Fantasy Football Draft Strategy:
Things look great for Ekeler this season to repeat what he did last year, but with fewer touchdowns. Call me crazy, but I will always count on 20 touchdown scorers to score fewer the next year. Since 2010, 25% of 20 touchdown scorers saw a double-digit touchdown drop the following year. I can’t very well be banging the drum that Jonathan Taylor is due for regression in this field without also acknowledging that Austin Ekeler is also due regression.
There’s also that the Chargers went out and got Isaiah Spiller. While I do not fear Isaiah Spiller taking touches from Ekeler while all is going well, I do worry about what things might happen if Ekeler gets a nagging injury. But all-in-all, I still believe Ekeler is a great candidate for the yards from scrimmage club. He has at least 90 targets in two of the last three years, which is an incredible first-round pick floor for a fantasy football team since, among the top-fifty running backs in 2021, a rush was worth 0.64 points, but a target was worth 1.58 points, on average. That means those 90 targets are essentially the equivalent of an extra 234 rush attempts, in terms of expected fantasy points produced.
All that means that if you are in a position to get Austin Ekeler, you should get Austin Ekeler. Ekeler is my RB4 for the year, behind Christian McCaffrey, Jonathan Taylor, and Derrick Henry. He’s priced this way in salary cap drafts and snake drafts, so if you’re in a position to get Ekeler at that range, go ahead and do it.
Best Case Scenario:
Austin Ekeler doesn’t regress, and he finishes the year as a top-three running back.
Worst Case Scenario:
Austin Ekeler does regress, and due to said regression, he finishes as RB7 in points per game. Also, he gets injured and plays like four games.
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[Statistics are sourced from pro-football-reference.com, airyards.com, and ftnfantasy.com]
[image Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/29/Austin_Ekeler.jpg under cc by sa 2.0]