Justin Jackson is not a replacement for Austin Ekeler


Some ball carriers are just different. Their skill level places them way above that of their saves, or their usage is so great that a single player cannot absorb it all, or they have greater versatility than their peers, or a combination of these- this.

Think about it: when Derrick Henry broke down, no one was going to duplicate their production, either in terms of efficiency or volume. When Christian McCaffrey fell it was obvious that no player was going to inherit his massive workload.

Austin Ekeler doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who would fall under such a classification. His use in the 20s is much lower than other leaders in the league – Jonathan Taylor gets 78.6% of red zone litters, Leonard Fournette got 63.5 before falling, Dalvin Cook gets 57.5 . Even Melvin Gordon, in a bona fide field with Javonte Williams, gets 48.6.

Still, there’s Ekeler, with just 47.1%, although he’s the clear hallmark of the Chargers’ offense. That only improves slightly inside the 5, with Ekeler hitting 50 percent, but his league rivals are consistently scoring 60 percent or better – with Taylor and Cook leading 80.

What these numbers suggest is that Ekeler’s volume shouldn’t be as difficult to replace as that of the other top fantastic RBs. And it may be true. But there is something to consider, which is not just the percentage of use, but the efficiency.

You see, Ekeler has 10 rushing touchdowns out of 20 – tied with Joe Mixon for the third-highest in the NFL behind Taylor (14) and James Conner (13). So Ekeler gets a ton of such attempts – 40 over the year, also tied for third. And he scored on 25 percent of them.

Los Angeles Chargers' Austin Ekeler # 30 carries the ball
Austin Ekeler was one of the most effective running backs in fantasy football.
Getty Images

Better, he scored nine times out of 23 rushes from inside 10 (39.1%) and six times out of 10 carries from inside 5 (60%). Only Conner and James Robinson are better.

So what does all of this mean for Justin Jackson, who would step in if Ekeler was out this week? For starters, that means we shouldn’t expect Jackson to replicate Ekeler’s efficiency, especially when it comes to scoring.

Will it at least come close to Ekeler’s workload? Ekeler has 173 litters this season. The rest of the RB Chargers combined have 106. Ekeler has 62 percent of the rushes. We would like to see some sort of similar disparity between Jackson and the Next Guy to provide for similar dominance. We don’t.

Justin Jackson may be replacing Austin Ekeler in the Chargers lineup, but there are other options for your fantastic team.
Getty Images

Jackson has 42 runs; Joshua Kelley and Larry Rountree are 36 and 28 respectively. His snap percentage is 14.9 of games, compared to 12.2 and 11.0. So not a huge difference. Jackson has gotten more work done lately – surpassing 25 percent in three straight games, including 53.8 last week when Ekeler fell. But that is not enough to suggest that it is plug and play. It is certainly playable, but not automatic.

Don’t put Jackson in front of more proven backups, like Alexander Mattison or Ronald Jones. We rate it as an RB2 backend this week.


Big weeks

Chase Edmonds RB, Cardinals, vs. Colts (FanDuel $ 5,800 / DraftKings $ 4,700)

We expect Edmonds to get a bigger share of the work in his second week back. A heel problem that could limit James Conner could amplify that possibility.

Emmanuel Sanders WR, Bills, at Patriots (FD $ 5,600 / DK $ 4,000)

He’ll be freshly injured in his knee, but we’ll put aside our aversion to those making returns after long layoffs, as Gabriel Davis and Cole Beasley, both on the COVID list, will both be.

Robby Anderson WR, Panthers, vs. Buccaneers (FD $ 5,700 / DK $ 4,900)

Lead Carolina WR DJ Moore is struggling with a hamstring problem. We’re not at the peak of the Panthers’ passing offense, but Anderson could see additional targets from Cam Newton and / or Sam Darnold.

Tyler Lockett WR, Seahawks, vs. Bears (FD $ 7,300 / DK $ 6,700)

DK Metcalf could be limited by a foot problem. Despite Lockett’s feast or famine story, he has double-digit PPR outings in five of his last six games.

Small weak points

Josh Allen QB, Bills, at Patriots ($ 8,500 FD / $ 7,500 DK)

It’s hard to find ‘weak’ guys among the few with clear availability, but Allen faces the toughest D against the opposing fantastic QBs. Was limited to just 11.7 fantastic points in Week 13 by the Pats and windy conditions in Buffalo.

Rashaad Penny RB, Seahawks, vs. Bears ($ 6,100 FD / $ 5,500 DK)

He looks incredibly pedestrian and was outdone by DeeJay Dallas last week. Expect Dallas to take Penny’s workload even further this week.

Jerry Jeudy WR, Broncos, at Raiders (FD $ 5,800 / DK $ 5,000)

Scored a donut last week, his third single-digit (or worse) game in the past month. Drew Lock at QB doesn’t move the needle much, but the little it does is in the wrong direction.

Dawson Knox TE, Bills, at Patriots ($ 6,100 FD / $ 5,300 DK)

Held just two captures by the Pats three weeks ago. New England award about 50% less PPR points on tight ends than the NFL average.

Daily duel of fantastic madness

Site: FanDuel

Slate: Sun. main (11 games)

Type: $ 9 tournament

First price : $ 25,000

Pot: $ 250,000

Drew’s crew

QB – Matthew Stafford (LAR, minimum) $ 7,900

RB – Alexander Mattison (Min, vs. LAR) $ 5,500

RB – Damien Harris (NE, vs Buf) $ 6,600

WR – Cooper Kupp (LAR, minimum) $ 9,800

WR – Braxton Berrios (NYJ, vs.Jac) $ 5,300

WR – Emmanuel Sanders (Buf, in NE) $ 5,600

TE – Mark Andrews (Bal, au Cin) $ 8,000

Flex – Amon-Ra St. Brown (Det, to Atl) $ 6,500

DEF – Buccaneers (TB, by car) $ 4,700

Wilk’s warriors

QB – Jalen Hurts (Phi, NYG) $ 7,700

RB – James Robinson (Jac, in NYJ) $ 8,200

RB – Ronald Jones II (VG, drive) $ 5,400

WR – Amon-Ra St. Brown (Det, at Atl) $ 6,500

WR – Laquon Treadwell (Jac, in NYJ) $ 5,300

WR – Cooper Kupp (LAR, minimum) $ 9,800

TE – Cole Kmet (Chi, at sea) $ 5,000

Flex – Cordarrelle Patterson (Atl, vs Det) $ 7,200

DEF – Chargeurs (LAC, at Hou) $ 4,800

Risky season: $ 122

Season earnings: Jarad $ 70, shot $ 15


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