Chargers' Austin Ekeler Drafts Himself No. 1 in Fantasy Football: 'Betting on Myself'

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVAugust 26, 2021

Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler warms up before an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler is confident he is poised for a huge season in 2021, and he is putting his money where his mouth is in fantasy football.

In an interview with TMZ Sports, Ekeler declared that he has been picking himself No. 1 overall in his fantasy drafts leading up to the season:

Ekeler said: "I would definitely be skeptical, too, absolutely. I'm picking myself No. 1 overall because I'm betting on myself. Feeling great, feeling explosive. Ready for these preseason games to be over with so we can get on the dang field."

The 26-year-old Ekeler is set to enter his fifth NFL season in 2021, and he is coming off what was largely a disappointing campaign for himself and fantasy managers who selected him.

Ekeler missed six games last season and left a couple of others early due to injury. That resulted in him finishing with just 530 yards and one touchdown on the ground, plus 54 receptions for 403 yards and two touchdowns through the air.

It represented a huge drop-off from his career year in 2019, when he rushed for 557 yards and three touchdowns but most notably caught 92 passes for 993 yards and eight touchdowns.

Ekeler finished as the No. 4 overall running back in point-per-reception fantasy leagues that season behind only Christian McCaffrey of the Carolina Panthers, Aaron Jones of the Green Bay Packers and Ezekiel Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys.

That resulted in Ekeler getting picked late in the first round or early in the second round in most 2020 fantasy drafts, but the decision didn't pay dividends.

If Ekeler can stay healthy, however, he has a chance to return to elite status, especially since the other running backs on L.A.'s roster aren't established NFL players yet.

The Chargers figure to throw the ball a lot in 2021 on the strength of second-year quarterback Justin Herbert's arm, and that only bolsters Ekeler's fantasy value due to his pass-catching ability.

Ekeler could be the bounce-back player of the year in fantasy football, although it would still be tough to pass on the likes of McCaffrey or Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook with the No. 1 overall pick.