LA Chargers running backs:
- Austin Ekeler, Justin Jackson, Joshua Kelley
The LA Chargers lost Melvin Gordon to free agency and brought in UCLA running back Joshua Kelley to help in the running back rotation in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
The assumption heading into the season is that Ekeler is going to get more time as a rusher and probably will see a slight reduction in targets in the passing game as the team turns to a run-first mindset with Tyrod Taylor under center.
Ekeler is one of the best dual-threat running backs in the league. It is exciting behind him, although it is not a guarantee for success. Jackson has shown great flashes but has not stayed healthy and really has not produced enough overall to warrant super high expectations while Kelley was a work-horse at UCLA and potentially could be a one-dimensional short-yardage back in the league.
That is just the worst-case outlook, but we cannot assume that the best-case outlook will happen, either. Regardless, with Ekeler leading the way, the running backs are solid and deep.
Indianapolis Colts running backs:
- Marlon Mack, Jonathan Taylor, Nyheim Hines
Marlon Mack and Austin Ekeler are different. Where Ekeler has been more of a weapon in the passing game, Mack is not much of a receiving threat and instead is the definition of a workhorse RB1. He eclipsed 1,000 yards for the first time last season and is only trending upwards.
Jonathan Taylor was a really interesting selection as he was one of the most talented backs in the draft and was a Heisman candidate. He was a workhorse at Wisconsin and there are worries about his mileage, but if he is in a rotation with Mack and is limited then he could do some really special things.
And Hines is the receiving back. He had 44 receptions for 320 yards last season and while it is nowhere close to the numbers Ekeler put up, it does give the Colts that receiving back that Rivers loves.
I just think the Colts’ running backs mesh together better than the Chargers and for that, I have to give the advantage to Indianapolis.
Running back advantage: Colts