How Melvin Gordon’s return should affect Austin Ekeler’s fantasy value

Alex Kurpeski

It has recently been reported that pro bowl running back Melvin Gordon will soon be ending his contract holdout and will be returning to the Chargers presumably for next week’s game against Denver. In his absence, backup Austin Ekeler has proved to be an extremely valuable asset in fantasy, as he currently finds himself in the top 5 in scoring for his position in all formats. With Gordon returning, what exactly can we make of the Chargers backfield?

Last season Ekeler tallied 958 yards from scrimmage despite being parked firmly behind Gordon on the depth chart. With several weeks of missed practices and training camps, I imagine Gordon’s reintroduction into the offense will be gradual over the next month, as he will eventually ease back into the starting role. In the meantime, I believe Ekeler will still possess a high end RB2 ceiling during the month of October, as he faces off against Denver, Pittsburgh, Tennessee, and Chicago, four teams that have found themselves on the wrong end of gamescripts more often than not this season. Likewise, Ekeler’s 19 receptions through three weeks have established him as one of the highest usage backs in the league, perhaps signaling a more even split with Gordon is in the cards. 

This appears to be a sincere win-win scenario from my perspective, as the 7th-9th round investment in Ekeler should continue to pay dividends as I expect him to be a solid flex play at minimum for the rest of the season. As for Gordon, the simple fact that he will be returning to the field is an upgrade from his previous status for fantasy owners. 

That was a lie actually. There is a loser in this situation and his name is Justin Jackson. Unless either Ekeler or Gordon suffer an injury, I believe Jackson will be very quiet from a fantasy perspective. 

So in conclusion, don’t panic on Ekeler or Gordon yet. This backfield could look very different compared to 2018, so readjust your expectations.

Agree or Disagree? Let us know!

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