1. Austin Ekeler
Austin Ekeler inked a four-year, $24.5 million contract extension with the LA Chargers at the start of the offseason. Considering how good of a season Ekeler had in 2019, this contract looks like a bargain compared to how much the other top running backs in the league are being paid.
Ekeler is one of the best pass-catching running backs in the entire NFL. In fact, Ekeler became one of just three running backs to have over 900 receiving yards since the turn of the century, with Christian McCaffrey (this season) also being one of the three.
This was Ekeler’s biggest season in terms of usage as well as Melvin Gordon held out the first four games of the year and when he did return did not get as much of a workload as other seasons. With that in mind, it might appear as if Ekeler is due for a huge year as the number one running back with a committee of Justin Jackson and Joshua Kelley behind him.
I do not think that will be the case and I think Ekeler benefitted from having Gordon as a running mate more than Charger fans are letting on. After all, all three of Ekeler’s 100-receiving-yard games last season came once Gordon returned from his holdout.
As talented as he is, Ekeler has not proven thus far that he can be that workhorse running back that creates a true number one running back. In the four games without Gordon to start the season, Ekeler carried the ball only 56 times and averaged 3.93 yards per attempt.
Meanwhile, as a supplemental option for the rest of the season, Ekeler averaged 4.43 yards per attempt.
Ekeler is great in his role and I think he will have another solid season as a dual-threat weapon. However, his numbers will overall go down and he will not be the number one running back that some fans expect him to be.