Austin Ekeler, Justin Jackson's Fantasy Outlook After Melvin Gordon's Injury

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistNovember 26, 2018

Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler runs for a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018, in Carson, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

As Melvin Gordon nurses a knee injury, the Los Angeles Chargers are looking for someone to step up and fill the former first-round pick's shoes.

Fantasy football owners are doing the same.

According to Eric Williams of ESPN, an MCL injury could potentially cause Gordon to miss next week's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, forcing the Chargers to replace him on the field.

The most obvious candidate figures to be Austin Ekeler. The second-year back had a limited role in the Chargers offense as a rookie in 2017, totaling 539 yards from scrimmage. He has made a bigger impact in his second season, though, piling up 409 rushing yards, 354 receiving yards and four touchdowns in the first 11 games.

When Gordon missed Week 7 because of a hamstring injury, Ekeler stepped in and helped the Chargers pull out a 20-19 victory over the Tennessee Titans by rushing for 42 yards and catching five passes for 26 yards. in Sunday's game against the Arizona Cardinals, he caught 10 passes out of the backfield and scored a rushing touchdown after Gordon went down with his injury.

Ekeler's versatility allows him to be on the field in any situation. For fantasy football owners, his pass-catching abilities make him a valuable commodity in points-per-reception leagues, making him an intriguing starting option with Gordon sidelined.

Justin Jackson also could see an increase in action with Gordon sidelined. The rookie out of Northwestern has been used sparingly when Gordon and Ekeler have both been healthy, but now that the Chargers' depth is being put to the test, he should see more snaps.

Jackson proved in college that he can be a factor in both the running and the passing games, posting four consecutive 1,000-yard seasons with the Wildcats while taking on a bigger role in the passing attack. He caught a career-high 44 passes as a senior.

Both Ekeler and Jackson could be risky plays for the time being for fantasy owners, although Ekeler has already been involved (and productive) in the Los Angeles offense. Now, he will be leaned upon more heavily, with Jackson helping carry the load as well.