4. RB Austin Ekeler
With Melvin Gordon‘s departure to the Broncos, Austin Ekeler is now the first running back on the depth chart. The Chargers made that very clear when they signed Ekeler to a four-year extension in March.
The explosion of Ekeler was one of the best parts of an otherwise bad year for the Chargers. 557 rushing yards on 4.2 yards per carry was a more efficient year than Gordon had running the ball.
That’s before even getting to his receiving year, which was insane. Ekeler had 993 receiving yards with 10.8 yards per reception. Most probably wouldn’t refer to Ekeler as a top-five or 10 running back in the league, but his production certainly meets those standards.
Ekeler’s 2019 production obviously took a bit of a nosedive when Gordon returned following his holdout. Taking those first four games that Ekeler started and simulating them per a 16 game season gives an interesting look into what his 2020 might look like.
Per 16 games, he would’ve had 880 rushing yards and 1080 receiving yards when looking at that first four games without Gordon.
Those are realistic marks for Ekeler in the upcoming season. The question mark for him is how Taylor will play with him in the passing game. Rivers always was able to find that screen or quick pass that would break the defense when Ekeler would run for a huge game.
Will Taylor have that same chemistry with him? Time will tell but expect Ekeler to have an even better year on the ground considering the improvements to the offensive line.