Fantasy Alert: Chargers 'Very High' on Justin Jackson in Duo with Austin Ekeler

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistApril 8, 2020

Los Angeles Chargers running back Justin Jackson (22) runs this kickoff back against the Kansas City Chiefs during the second half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)
Reed Hoffmann/Associated Press

For those who hoped Melvin Gordon III's departure would mean Austin Ekeler takes over as the Los Angeles Chargers' lead running back, we have some bad news.

The Chargers may not see it that way.

Daniel Popper of The Athletic reported the Chargers are "very high" on Justin Jackson as part of a "one-two punch" with Ekeler, though they "view Ekeler as a No. 1 starting back."

Jackson has performed well when given opportunities since L.A. drafted him in the seventh round in 2018 but has struggled to stay healthy. He's appeared in only 20 of a possible 32 games and missed nine games in 2019 because of injury.

The Chargers utilized Ekeler as their lead back early in the season while Gordon held out, but Jackson did vulture some opportunities. He had at least five carries in each of the first three games, though he was less of an option in the passing game, where Ekeler thrives.

The takeaway is that Ekeler will probably stay somewhere in the range of 15 to 18 touches most weeks, rather than reaching 20-plus territory. He can still be effective in those situations—he certainly was last season—but he's more of a low-end RB1/high-end RB2 than someone worth taking in the first round of fantasy drafts next season.

It's also possible a running back the Chargers like falls in the NFL draft and they can't pass him up, meaning we revisit this situation in a few weeks. For now, though, Jackson looks like a late-round flier/solid handcuff rather than an afterthought.

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