ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Chargers RB Austin Ekeler is expected to miss 4-6 weeks with a hamstring injury and a hyperextended knee. Ekeler is reportedly seeking a 2nd opinion on the injury and his return timeline. Whether to keep him on your fantasy roster will come down to differences in specific team needs, roster sizes and available alternatives. In addition to leaving more playing time and touches available for Joshua Kelley and Justin Jackson, we might see a few extra targets go to TE Hunter Henry and/or WR Keenan Allen. Neither Kelley nor Jackson looks equipped to take over the full receiving role of Ekeler, who can run more WR-type routes than most RBs.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reports that Chargers RB Austin Ekeler sustained a "serious hamstring injury" in Sunday's loss to the Buccaneers. He says the team hasn't made a final decision yet but that Ekeler is likely headed to IR, "with hope of returning later in the season." That language indicates they don't know yet whether Ekeler will return. We'll wait for the official IR move. But Ekeler might be a drop candidate if you play in a shallower league with no IR spots. Joshua Kelley and Justin Jackson, meanwhile, make obvious moves up the depth chart and should be owned in nearly all leagues of 10+ teams.
Chargers RB Austin Ekeler is expected to miss "multiple weeks" with a hyperextended knee and hamstring injury suffered in today's loss to the Bucs, per ESPN's Adam Schefter. Ekeler was in a brace and using crutches afterward. We'll look for a more concrete timeline for him, but fantasy owners should obviously start making other plans for Week 5 and beyond. The Chargers will turn to a backfield committee with Joshua Kelley and Justin Jackson.
Chargers RB Austin Ekeler left late in the 1st quarter of Sunday's game against the Buccaneers with what could be a serious left ankle injury. Ekeler was holding his foot off the ground before the play even ended, as he was being tackled. He left the field with the help of 2 trainers, putting no weight on the affected leg. And then he left the sideline on a cart. We'll watch for updates, but this looks bad. Joshua Kelley entered the game when Ekeler left. Justin Jackson also figures to see more playing time if/when Ekeler is out.
Chargers RB Joshua Kelley "might be having the best training camp of any player on the roster," The Athletic's Daniel Popper writes. HC Anthony Lynn likes what he's seen from the rookie, too. "I believe Joshua is having an outstanding camp," Lynn said. "I’ve thrown him in with the ones; he’s made plays. He’s in with the twos; he’s made plays. And he has shown a versatility. He can catch the ball out of the backfield well. He has shown that. So I’ve been pleased with his progress so far.” Popper notes that Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson still appear to be ahead of Kelley on the depth chart. But it sounds like he's pushing Jackson for snaps behind Ekeler. That'll be a situation to monitor early this season. For now, Kelley and Jackson are only worth rostering in deep fantasy leagues.
Chargers WR Mike Williams is considered week-to-week with a shoulder sprain suffered in Sunday's practice, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. "At this point, his return to play timeline — and status for the opener -- is not yet determined," Rapoport adds. So it sounds like Williams is in some danger of missing Week 1. The Chargers are razor thin at WR behind Williams and Keenan Allen, with K.J. Hill, Joe Reed, Darius Jennings and a few others jockeying for position. Williams' absence would mean more targets for Allen, TE Hunter Henry and RB Austin Ekeler.
The Chargers added UCLA RB Joshua Kelley in the 4th round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Kelley was a workhorse for the Bruins over the past 2 seasons, tallying rushing lines of 225-1,243-12 and 229-1,060-12. He averaged a mediocre 5.1 yards per carry, though, and doesn’t look like anything special on tape. Kelley ranked 17th among 21 of this year’s top RBs prospects in Pro Football Focus’ 2019 rushing grades and dead last in Elusive Rating. The 5’11, 212-pounder did test reasonably well at the Combine, posting a 4.49-second 40 time and a 6.95-second 3-cone. He finished with a 47th percentile SPARQ score. We heard one scout compare Kelley to the Packers’ Jamaal Williams. He’ll compete with Justin Jackson for ‘big-back’ duties behind Austin Ekeler in Los Angeles.
The Chargers selected Oregon QB Justin Herbert with the 6th overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft. Herbert made 42 starts across the past 4 years, leaving the Ducks with a career 64% completion rate, 8.2 yards per attempt and 95 TDs vs. 23 INTs. After a disappointing 2018 campaign, he bounced back to chuck for 3,471 yards with 32 TDs vs. 6 INTs on a 67% completion rate and 8.1 yards per attempt this past year. Herbert’s accuracy is spotty, but he’s a 6’6, 235-pounder with a big arm. And his rushing upside makes him an intriguing fantasy prospect. Although he totaled just 216 yards and 6 scores on the ground over the past 2 seasons, Herbert ran a 4.68-second 40-yard dash at the Combine and earned a 92nd percentile SPARQ (athleticism) score. He could produce Josh Allen-like rushing numbers as a pro. Herbert joins Tyrod Taylor in the Chargers’ QB room. HC Anthony Lynn is a big Tyrod fan, but we’d expect Herbert to take over at some point this season.
The Chargers are "still very high" on RB Justin Jackson, according to The Athletic's Daniel Popper. The 2018 7th-rounder has struggled staying healthy even in a limited role over the past 2 seasons but has averaged a strong 5.1 yards per carry. Popper doesn't expect the Chargers to add an early-round back later this month to replace Melvin Gordon. If that's the case, Jackson could be in for a sneaky-big role behind undersized Austin Ekeler, who hasn't topped 132 carries in an NFL season.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that the Chargers and RB Austin Ekeler have agreed to a new 4-year deal worth $24.5 million. The contract reportedly includes $15 million guaranteed. Ekeler had been on track for restricted free agency. Instead, he looks locked in as the team's top back -- even if the Chargers add to the backfield this offseason, as we expect them to do. The terms seem low enough to make finishing this contract seem realistic. At the least, this top-7 RB across fantasy formats in 2019 looks poised for another run at RB1-level production.
Chargers WR Keenan Allen (hamstring) is listed as questionable for this weekend's game against the Bears. He didn't practice on Thursday or Friday after not being on the injury report at all on Wednesday. Allen appears to be in real danger of missing Sunday's game. We'll look for updates on his availability throughout the weekend and will get his official game status by noon ET on Sunday. Allen's absence would leave Mike Williams as Los Angeles' clear #1 WR and would also likely push more targets toward TE Hunter Henry and RBs Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler.
Chargers HC Anthony Lynn said Friday that RB Austin Ekeler will play "a lot" vs. the Broncos this weekend and that RB Melvin Gordon will get a limited workload. The plan makes sense after Gordon held out all summer and September. Plans can change once the game starts, but we're now projecting something close to a 2-to-1 split in favor of Ekeler this week.
Chargers RB Justin Jackson (calf) is out for Sunday’s game against the Dolphins. He was added to the injury report on Thursday and spotted in a walking boot on Friday, so this might be a significant injury. Jackson, of course, was already set to drop off the fantasy radar with Melvin Gordon back. Jackson’s absence this weekend locks in Austin Ekeler as an every-down back — at least until the game gets out of hand. RB Troymaine Pope is next up on the depth chart. We’ll see if the Chargers call up RB Detrez Newsome from the practice squad.
Chargers RB Justin Jackson was added to Thursday's injury report as limited with a calf. We'll see if he's able to practice tomorrow and then how he's listed on the final injury report. Jackson's absence would make RB Austin Ekeler an even more elite fantasy play vs. Miami.
The Chargers announced that TE Hunter Henry suffered a tibia plateau fracture to his left knee in Sunday's win over the Colts. For what it's worth, this is the opposite knee in which he tore his ACL last spring. Henry will "continue to be evaluated" and a timetable for his return "has not yet been determined," per the team's statement. There are 3 instances of a tibia plateau fracture in Sports Injury Predictor's database. Those guys (Nate Burleson, Anthony Hitchens and Daniel Sorensen) missed anywhere from 1 to 3 months. We should learn more about Henry's status over the next few days, but fantasy owners obviously need to plan to be without him for a while. Virgil Green is currently the Chargers' backup TE. (We'll see if they try to bring Antonio Gates back.) Henry's absence will push even more targets to WR Keenan Allen and RB Austin Ekeler.
Update: ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that the Chargers are expecting Henry to miss 4-6 weeks.
Chargers GM Tom Telesco told reporters during a Sunday conference call that the team has suspended contract-extension talks with RB Melvin Gordon until after the season. That doesn't seem to help the chances of Gordon reporting to the team anytime soon. Of course, moving on to another team via trade would change that situation. Drafters should continue pushing Gordon down the board this week until/unless something changes. Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson, meanwhile, have only gained draft value this week.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reports that the Chargers have given permission to RB Melvin Gordon's representatives to seek a trade. That obviously doesn't bode well for Gordon and the team working something out to get him back for the season. We'll see whether it can get him onto someone else's field soon. If you're drafting this weekend, Gordon carries plenty of risk anywhere inside the 1st 5 rounds. This news certainly doesn't hurt the value of Austin Ekeler or Justin Jackson, though.
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