|ADP:||Round: 2, Pick: 7|
|Team:||Los Angeles Chargers|
|Ht / Wt:||5'9" / 191 lb.|
|College:||Western State (CO)|
|Born:||May 17, 1995|
|Drafted:||2017 / UDFA|
The Chargers have signed Ekeler to a four-year, $24.5 million contract, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports.
Analysis: Ekeler's contract reportedly includes $15 million in guarantees. The dynamic dual-threat was scheduled to become a restricted free agent this offseason, but the Chargers have opted to lock him up for the foreseeable future rather than simply bring him back on a one-year basis. The 24-year-old proved his every-down potential by shouldering the load during the first four games of the 2019 season, before Melvin Gordon's holdout came to an end, across which span he compiled 220 rushing yards and three touchdowns in addition to 24 catches, 270 receiving yards and three scores. With Gordon set to test the open market when free agency kicks off March 18, it's conceivable that the Chargers could consider Ekeler as the top backfield option for the 2020 campaign. At the very least, he's a lock to handle a key role on offense.
Ekeler accumulated 89 total yards in Sunday's loss to the Chiefs, finishing the 2019 campaign with 557 rushing yards, 993 receiving yards and 11 total touchdowns.
Analysis: While Ekeler was seven yards short of joining just a handful of running backs to record over 1,000 receiving yards in a season, it was nevertheless a banner year for the third-year pro. The 24-year-old proved that he could be an every-down back in a short stint as the starter to open 2019 with Melvin Gordon missing time to a holdout, but it's unclear whether the Chargers will operate with that same mindset this offseason. At the very least, Ekeler figures to share time with another suitable option next season, but whether he's the primary back or a dangerous second option could be the biggest question looming for the Chargers in 2020.
Ekeler carried the ball four times for 11 yards and also registered five receptions for 58 yards in the 24-17 loss Sunday to the Raiders.
Analysis: While Ekeler is well off his career-pace of 5.3 yards-per-carry, the diminutive running back has a slim opportunity to become just the third running back since 1985 to record over 1,000 receiving yards in a single season. Regardless of that record, the 24-year-old should register at least 1,400 scrimmage yards in a single season by next week as Ekeler continues to be one of the better bargains of the 2019 fantasy season relative to his August draft value.
Ekeler carried seven times for 19 yards and caught five of seven targets for an additional 62 yards during Sunday's 39-10 loss to the Vikings.
Analysis: Ekeler did next to nothing on the ground, but he came through with his usual impactful performance as a receiver. He tied for second on the team in receptions while finishing third in targets and receiving yards. Ekeler is now nearing 1,400 scrimmage yards for the season and continues to thrive despite playing behind Melvin Gordon. He should be expected to get around a dozen touches next Sunday against the Raiders and will look to continue his efficiency against a vulnerable defense.
Ekeler carried the ball eight times for 101 yards and caught four of five targets for 112 yards and a touchdown in Sunday's 45-10 rout of the Jaguars.
Analysis: The 213 scrimmage yards were a career high for the third-year running back, and Ekeler also helped Philip Rivers set a new personal best when he took a short pass early in the third quarter and raced 84 yards to the end zone -- the longest TD pass of the veteran quarterback's career. Ekeler is now 170 receiving yards shy of 1,000 for the year, but he'll have a much tougher matchup in Week 15 when the Chargers host the Vikings.
Ekeler carried the ball nine times for 16 yards and also added four receptions for 51 yards and a touchdown in the 23-20 loss Sunday to the Broncos.
Analysis: Ekeler was once again a weapon in the passing game, taking a 30-yard wheel route to the house for the Chargers' first touchdown of the game. While Melvin Gordon was the featured back on the ground once again (20 carries, 99 yards), Ekeler still saw nine carries of his own, making it just the second time since Week 5 against the Broncos --- Gordon's de facto 2019 debut --- in which the third-year back saw seven or more carries. It's possible Ekeler could see a step back in receiving opportunities if reports by Ian Rapoport of NFL.com come to fruition, as the Chargers are evidently considering a change at quarterback thanks to the continual struggles of Philip Rivers. Still, it's already a career year for the 24-year-old, as he's on pace to shatter his total yardage (1,032) after already setting best marks in receptions and total touchdowns.
Ekeler rushed five times for 24 yards and caught eight of 11 targets for 108 yards in Monday night's 24-17 loss to the Chiefs.
Analysis: Ekeler was handed nine fewer carries than Melvin Gordon, but totaled 42 more scrimmage yards than him thanks to a superb effort in the passing game. The tailback went for a 37-yard reception on the Chargers' first offensive drive and was routinely hit on underneath routes afterward. Overall, he easily led the team in receiving yards and tied Keenan Allen for the high in grabs, sending him into the bye week on a good note individually.
Ekeler carried the ball five times for 14 yards and also caught three of his four targets for 14 yards in the 24-17 loss Sunday to the Steelers.
Analysis: An early 14-0 deficit essentially forced the Chargers to abandon the run, as Ekeler and Melvin Gordon combined to receive just 13 carries. Still, it was a bit of a surprise to see the third-year back receive just four targets one week after recording a team-high 16 in a similar game script. It's clear the return of Gordon has essentially relegated Ekeler to his primary backup role, with the shifty running back attempting just eight carries over the last two weeks compared to 56 in Weeks 1-4. That hasn't meant a significant loss in playing time however, as the 24-year-old is still seeing close to 65 percent of the offensive snaps each week, but the lack of carries likely hinders the type of upside fantasy owners might have hoped for after such an impressive start to the season.
Ekeler carried three times for seven yards and caught 15 of 16 targets for an additional 86 yards during Sunday's 20-13 loss to the Broncos.
Analysis: Ekeler did next to nothing on the ground, watching as Melvin Gordon received 12 carries in his season debut. He excelled as a pass-catcher, however, leading the team in targets, catches, and receiving yards while serving as a safety valve for Philip Rivers. This was an encouraging sign for Ekeler, who received a hefty workload of his own despite 16 touches for Gordon. He should hold onto a similar role for next Sunday's home matchup with the Steelers, but a similar output isn't guaranteed.
Coach Anthony Lynn said Friday that Ekeler will play "a lot" in Sunday's game against the Broncos, Daniel Popper of The Athletic reports.
Analysis: Though the team's official site lists Melvin Gordon atop the depth chart at running back, Lynn suggested that the 26-year-old's role will be limited to some extent while he plays in his first game since mid-January. The introduction of Gordon into the game plan hinders Ekeler's fantasy outlook moving forward, but the latter could still offer plenty of value in Week 5 if he ends up taking on the larger share of backfield touches. In the Chargers' first four games sans Gordon, Ekeler has averaged 122.5 total yards and six catches per contest while finding the end zone six times.
Ekeler carried the ball 18 times for 60 yards while catching all five of his targets for 62 yards, finishing the contest with two total touchdowns in Sunday's 30-10 win over the Dolphins.
Analysis: It remains to be seen how Ekeler will be used moving forward, but at least in the first week with Melvin Gordon back on the team, the diminutive speedster was still the main threat, splitting time with Troymaine Pope instead. The Chargers made it clear during the week Gordon would only be used in an emergency situation, something that never occurred with both Pope and Ekeler healthy throughout, so it's tough to really gauge how the team will operate their two-headed backfield. The third-year back has been incredibly productive as the leading ballcarrier for the Chargers, posting 220 rushing yards and 270 receiving yards along with six touchdowns through four games, but head coach Anthony Lynn made it known Gordon would resume his bellcow role as soon as the team deemed him physically ready, a proposition that could occur as early as Week 5 against the Broncos.
Ekeler is in line to start Sunday's game against the Dolphins, but his workload remains in flux with Melvin Gordon active for the contest, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports.
Analysis: While Rapoport suggests that Gordon will be used only in an emergency after only putting in two practices with the Chargers this week following his return from a 64-day holdout, Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com suggests that Gordon should "still get touches." No matter what role Gordon holds in Week 4, the expectation is that it will be small, leaving Ekeler in line to handle the bulk of the backfield snaps. That's probably enough to make Ekeler a worthy play in nearly all weekly leagues, though his fantasy appeal will take a substantial hit in the contests to follow, as coach Anthony Lynn already declared that Gordon will reclaim lead-back duties once he has more time to get reintegrated with the team.
Ekeler is still expected to be the starter despite teammate Melvin Gordon activated and available to play in Sunday's contest against the Dolphins, Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com reports.
Analysis: Williams suggested Ekeler would still operate on the larger side of the time share this week, with Gordon sliding into the vacated snaps left by Justin Jackson's (calf) injury, meaning the fourth-year back should still expect to see his usual 45-50 snaps Sunday. It remains to be seen how Ekeler will fit into the offense moving forward, however, as head coach Anthony Lynn made it clear Gordon would "go back to being our No. 1 guy" as "soon as Melvin's ready."
Ekeler's teammate, Melvin Gordon, plans to report to the Chargers on Thursday, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports.
Analysis: Per the report, Gordon won't play Sunday against the Dolphins, so those who had been rolling with Ekeler will get one more week worth of starter's production from him, before he presumably reverts to a complementary role in Week 5.
Ekeler carried the ball nine times for 36 yards in Week 3 against the Texans. He also added seven receptions on seven targets for 45 yards.
Analysis: Ekeler was held in check for the first time this season but still managed a productive game thanks to his involvement in the passing attack. Even though he continued to clearly work ahead of Justin Jackson, it was surprising to see Ekeler earn only nine carries, particularly because the Chargers led throughout the first half. Despite the down performance relative to his massive production through the first two weeks of the season, Ekeler has 368 total yards and four touchdowns through three games. Furthermore, he should have a great chance to return to the end zone in Week 4, as the Chargers draw a matchup against the lowly Dolphins.
Ekeler tallied 17 carries for 66 yards and one touchdown while hauling in all six passes for 67 yards during Sunday's 13-10 loss in Detroit.
Analysis: Once again, Ekeler handled the lion's share of the running back reps, seeing 23 touches to Justin Jackson's eight. The result was Ekeler's second consecutive outing with at least 130 yards from scrimmage and one TD. Moreover, Ekeler ranked second on the team in targets behind top wideout Keenan Allen, who received a whopping 15. As long as Melvin Gordon's holdout lasts, Ekeler appears to the favored option out of the Chargers' backfield.
Ekeler carried the ball 12 times for 58 yards and registered six receptions for 96 yards to go along with three total touchdowns in the 30-24 overtime win Sunday over the Colts.
Analysis: It's safe to say the Chargers didn't miss Melvin Gordon (contract holdout) on Sunday, as Ekeler and Justin Jackson combined for 215 total yards. Ekeler in particular was a dynamic force, picking up four separate plays of 10 or more yards throughout the contest, including a beautifully set up screen that turned into a 55-yard touchdown thanks in large part to impressive balance from the diminutive offensive weapon. Ekeler capped off his impressive day with the go-ahead touchdown in overtime -- one of a number of red-zone looks he received throughout the afternoon. The 24-year-old out-touched his backfield competition 18-to-7 despite Jackson's impressive 9.5 yards-per-carry average, essentially slotting into the same type of usage that made Gordon a top fantasy option at running back the past three seasons. It's possible the Chargers could operate with a more balanced attack in future weeks, but there's no question that Ekeler will remain a focal point regardless.
Ekeler could be in store for an extended run as the Chargers' starting running back with top option Melvin Gordon (contract dispute) potentially extending his holdout until late November, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports.
Analysis: As Schefter notes, Gordon would only have to show up 30 days prior to the Chargers' regular-season finale in order for his contract not to toll over into 2020, making it likely that he'll report to Los Angeles at some point before the Dec. 1 game in Denver. Of course, Gordon end his holdout well before that date if the Chargers trade him or meet his demands on an extension, but he'll at least be unavailable for the Week 1 matchup with the Colts, and quite possibly, additional games to follow. While Gordon is away, coach Anthony Lynn has expressed a desire to use a backfield timeshare of Ekeler and Justin Jackson, though the distribution of snaps and touches should tilt in favor of Ekeler. The 24-year-old thrived in a change-of-pace role behind Gordon the previous two seasons, averaging an efficient 5.3 yards per carry and 10.3 yards per reception.
Coach Anthony Lynn hinted that he'll likely have Ekeler share the backfield snaps with Justin Jackson in Sunday's game against the Colts, Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com reports. "I've always used those guys as a tandem," Lynn said. "That's not going to change. We're going to put guys in good positions to do what they do best.
Analysis: With Melvin Gordon's holdout continuing into the regular season, Ekeler is on track to receive the Week 1 start, but he apparently won't be asked to fill the high-volume role that the former has filled when available. Though Ekeler averaged a robust 5.2 yards per carry on 106 attempts in 2018 while also showcasing utility as a receiver, he hasn't logged more than 17 touches in any game during his two-year career. By not asking Ekeler to handle the overwhelming share of the backfield work, the Chargers are likely hoping he can maintain the efficiency he's displayed in the past and ensure the Los Angeles offense doesn't lose much potency without its top back in the fold.
Ekeler rushed four times for 11 yards and brought in two of three targets for 22 yards in the Chargers' 23-15 preseason loss to the Seahawks on Saturday.
Analysis: Ekeler was thoroughly stymied on the ground save for one carry, a nine-yard run. However, he also notched an impressive 17-yard grab in what was likely his final tune-up for the regular season. The third-year pro increasingly appears set to start the season as the Chargers' No. 1 running back with Melvin Gordon still holding out, although backfield mate Justin Jackson should also see a solid complementary workload while Gordon remains out.
News powered by