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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Austin Ekeler indicators with Commanders: Fantasy Soccer fallout, plus Antonio Gibson, Gus Edwards outlooks

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In our free agent preview that ran Feb. 29, I mentioned the very best match for Austin Ekeler can be if he signed in Washington. That can change into a actuality after Ekeler agreed to a two-year, $11.4 million deal Monday.

Ekeler, who turns 29 in Could, will be part of Brian Robinson Jr. within the Commanders backfield. Ekeler will change Antonio Gibson, who agreed to a three-year, $11.3 million take care of New England.

In Washington, Ekeler ought to be thought-about a No. 2 Fantasy working again, and the earliest he ought to be drafted is Spherical 5 within the majority of leagues. He is coming off a down season in 2023 with the Chargers, and it is laborious to anticipate Ekeler to rebound now that he is sharing work with Robinson.

Ekeler went from averaging greater than 20.5 PPR factors per recreation in every of the earlier two seasons — and no worse than 15.6 PPR factors per recreation since 2019 — to only 12.1 PPR factors in 2023 in 14 video games. At this level in his profession, he is most likely finest suited to be a third-down again and work within the passing recreation, the place he may nonetheless be dominant. 

Signing with the Commanders is sensible for Ekeler since Anthony Lynn simply turned the working backs coach in Washington, and Lynn was the pinnacle coach for the Chargers (2017-20) when Ekeler began to show heads. In 2019, Ekeler had 92 catches for 993 yards and eight touchdowns on 108 targets, and he ought to be a superb complement for Robinson.  

We nonetheless have questions in Washington, notably who will play quarterback for the Commanders, they usually have the No. 2 general decide within the NFL Draft. However new offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury and Lynn ought to lean on Ekeler fairly a bit.

As for Robinson, I would not be shocked if he led Washington in carries and dashing yards. He is coming off a productive season in 2023 the place he averaged 12.5 PPR factors per recreation, and he had 178 carries for 733 yards and 5 touchdowns, in addition to 36 catches for 368 yards and 4 touchdowns on 43 targets.

Robinson can nonetheless be a top quality flex choice even with Ekeler on the roster, and I might draft Robinson as early as Spherical 7 within the majority of leagues. He loses worth with Ekeler in Washington, however Robinson at 24 and in his third season within the NFL may show to be the most effective working again for the Commanders — and Fantasy managers — this 12 months.

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Patriots add one other RB

In New England, Gibson turns into the complementary choice to Rhamondre Stevenson, and Gibson ought to be drafted with a late-round decide within the majority of leagues. In 2023, Gibson had 65 carries for 265 yards and one landing, together with 48 catches for 389 yards and two touchdowns on 59 targets.

Gibson will probably play on passing downs and be a change-of-pace choice for Stevenson. I nonetheless like Stevenson because the No. 1 working again for the Patriots, and he is price drafting as early as Spherical 6 in most codecs.

Stevenson had a down season in 2023 at 11.3 PPR factors per recreation (he averaged 13.8 PPR factors per recreation in 2022), however he was beginning to get going earlier than injuring his ankle in Week 13. Earlier than the damage, Stevenson scored at the very least 12 PPR factors in 5 of his earlier six video games.

We’ll see who performs quarterback for the Patriots this season below new coach Jerod Mayo, and Stevenson may find yourself as an incredible worth decide in what ought to be an improved offense. I am nonetheless a believer in Stevenson as a top quality Fantasy choice in 2024.

Chargers get to work on changing Ekeler

Lastly, for the Chargers, they added Gus Edwards to assist change Ekeler. Edwards signed a two-year, $6.5 million deal Monday.

I anticipate Edwards to get firm in Los Angeles since he is 29, however he is accustomed to new Chargers offensive coordinator Greg Roman because the two had been collectively in Baltimore. In 2023, Edwards led the Ravens with 198 carries for 810 yards and 13 touchdowns, and he added 12 catches for 180 yards. 

The Chargers wish to be a run-heavy staff, so Edwards could possibly be a flex choice relying on who else leads to Los Angeles. However Edwards has an enormous alternative in entrance of him with Ekeler now gone.

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