Austin Ekeler

Austin Ekeler

29-Year-Old Running BackRB
Washington Commanders
2024 Fantasy Outlook
Perhaps Ekeler has lost a step, but it's difficult to tell strictly from 2023. Badly as Ekeler's numbers declined, regression would have been predictable if one knew ahead of time that Ekeler would suffer a high-ankle sprain early in the year and that QB Justin Herbert would miss four games and play many of the others with a broken finger on his throwing hand. The Chargers offense collapsed, and it fell hard on Ekeler in particular. Now in Washington on a two-year, $8.4 million contract, Ekeler should have better circumstances in 2024, though it's not clear to what degree. Not just that, but Ekeler is 29 years old now, so even if physical decline wasn't one of the main causes of his 2023 struggles it could still happen any time now. He should stay a little more spry with Brian Robinson and Chris Rodriguez taking most of the power-rushing workload in Washington under new offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury, perhaps opening the door for Ekeler to recapture some of his magic as a pass catcher for rookie QB Jayden Daniels. The days of fantasy dominance are likely gone, with Ekeler not even assured of getting goal-line carries despite his established TD-scoring prowess. Read Past Outlooks
RANKS
$Signed a two-year, $8.43 million contract with the Commanders in March of 2024.
Headed to Washington
RBWashington Commanders
March 11, 2024
Ekeler agreed to a two-year contract with the Commanders on Monday, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reports.
ANALYSIS
The deal reportedly is worth up to $11.43 million, but with only $4.82 million guaranteed in the first season and a significant portion being based in incentives. Ekeler turns 29 years old in May and is coming off a 2023 campaign in which he experienced a massive downturn from his 2021 and 2022 production while dealing with a high-ankle sprain and poor blocking. Even if he can't recapture his peak form, Ekeler should be useful as a passing-down back given that he has 3,884 career receiving yards and 30 receiving touchdowns. The Commanders likely envision Ekeler and Brian Robinson sharing backfield snaps, though it might look quite a bit different than Robinson's split with Antonio Gibson in 2023. Gibson has moved on to New England in free agency, while the Commanders have a new offensive coordinator (Kliff Kingsbury) and are widely expected to pursue a new quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.
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NFL Stats
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Fantasy/Red Zone Stats
See red zone opportunities inside the 20, 10 and 5-yard lines along with the percentage of time they converted the opportunity into a touchdown.
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Advanced NFL Stats
How do Austin Ekeler's 2023 advanced stats compare to other running backs?
This section compares his advanced stats with players at the same position. The bar represents the player's percentile rank. For example, if the bar is halfway across, then the player falls into the 50th percentile for that metric and it would be considered average. The longer the bar, the better it is for the player.
  • Broken Tackle %
    The number of broken tackles divided by rush attempts.
  • Positive Run %
    The percentage of run plays where he was able to gain positive yardage.
  • % Yds After Contact
    The percentage of his rushing yards that came after contact.
  • Avg Yds After Contact
    The average rushing yards he gains after contact.
  • Rushing TD %
    Rushing touchdowns divided by rushing attempts. In other words, how often is he scoring when running the ball.
  • Touches Per Game
    The number of touches (rushing attempts + receptions) he is averaging per game
  • % Snaps w/Touch
    The number of touches (rushing attempts + receptions) divided by offensive snaps played.
  • Air Yards Per Game
    The number of air yards he is averaging per game. Air yards measure how far the ball was thrown downfield for both complete and incomplete passes. Air yards are recorded as a negative value when the pass is targeted behind the line of scrimmage. All air yards data is from Sports Info Solutions and does not include throwaways as targeted passes.
  • Air Yards Per Snap
    The number of air yards he is averaging per offensive snap.
  • % Team Air Yards
    The percentage of the team's total air yards he accounts for.
  • % Team Targets
    The percentage of the team's total targets he accounts for.
  • Avg Depth of Target
    Also known as aDOT, this stat measures the average distance down field he is being targeted at.
  • Catch Rate
    The number of catches made divided by the number of times he was targeted by the quarterback.
  • Drop Rate
    The number of passes he dropped divided by the number of times he was targeted by the quarterback.
  • Avg Yds After Catch
    The number of yards he gains after the catch on his receptions.
  • % Targeted On Route
    Targets divided by total routes run. Also known as TPRR.
  • Avg Yds Per Route Run
    Receiving yards divided by total routes run. Also known as YPRR.
Broken Tackle %
10.6%
 
Positive Run %
83.2%
 
% Yds After Contact
66.1%
 
Avg Yds After Contact
2.3
 
Rushing TD %
2.8%
 
Touches Per Game
16.4
 
% Snaps w/Touch
38.0%
 
Air Yards Per Game
-4.6
 
Air Yards Per Snap
-0.11
 
% Team Air Yards
-1.4%
 
% Team Targets
12.0%
 
Avg Depth of Target
-0.9 Yds
 
Catch Rate
68.9%
 
Drop Rate
6.8%
 
Avg Yds After Catch
10.2
 
% Targeted On Route
21.3%
 
Avg Yds Per Route Run
1.26
 
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2023
2022
2021
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2017
2023 NFL Game Log
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Snap Distribution / Depth Chart
Snap Counts
Snap %
Washington CommandersCommanders 2023 RB Snap Distribution See more data like this | See last season's snap counts
#% of Team Snaps

47545%
45343%
929%
222%
131%
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Receiving Alignment Breakdown
See where Austin Ekeler lined up on the field and how he performed at each spot.
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2023 Austin Ekeler Split Stats
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Latest Fantasy Rumors
Expected to reach free agency
RBLos Angeles Chargers
February 26, 2024
Ekeler likely won't have the franchise tag placed on him by the Chargers, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports.
ANALYSIS
All of Derrick Henry, Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, Tony Pollard and Ekeler are expected to reach free agency rather than get tagged by their current teams, creating a situation that should suppress salaries at the position once again. Ekeler could be the biggest loser of the lot on the open market, as the 28-year-old is coming off a very disappointing season that saw him average only 3.5 yards per carry and miss a few games early in the season with an ankle injury he might not ever have fully recovered from, as his only 100-yard rushing performance of the season came in Week 1.
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
2023
2022
2021
2020
2019
2018
2017
Ekeler is back in Los Angeles for at least one more year despite requesting a trade in March, ultimately accepting an amended contract (more incentives) shortly after his 28th birthday in May. It may not be what he wants or deserves in terms of pay, but he's at least well positioned to pile up numbers again with the help of Justin Herbert, who douses his running back in targets. Ekeler is among the two or three best pass catchers at his position, and he's proven as an efficient, medium-volume runner now that he's coming off back-to-back seasons with least 4.4 YPC on slightly more than 200 carries. He's also coming off back-to-back seasons leading the league in touchdowns, with his combination of tough, clever running (25 rush TDs) and quick, precise route-running (13 receiving TDs) making the 200-pounder one of the best red-zone weapons in the league. It does seem the Chargers hope to use Ekeler a bit less this year, at least in the passing game, with OC Kellen Moore and rookie wideout Quentin Johnston brought in to help Herbert stretch the field. On the other hand, Ekeler caught at least 4.4 passes per game each of the past four seasons, and the Chargers still don't have good backfield depth or any reason to turn away from their star RB near the goal.
Ekeler stayed healthy last season after missing six games in 2020, and the result was an ascent to stardom. He finished the year by finding the end zone in eight straight games, and his 20 total touchdowns not only tied Jonathan Taylor for the league lead but also matched Priest Holmes' record for an undrafted running back. Ekeler topped 1,500 scrimmage yards for the second time in his career thanks to a career-best performance on the ground, with Taylor and Najee Harris being the only running backs to pile up more total yards. Ekeler is as shifty as they come, and his elusiveness and agility combined with surprising power make him tough to bring down - a skill set that allowed him to be highly effective on 48 red-zone carries last year (second most in the league) even though he's only 200 pounds. He's also one of the NFL's best pass-catching backs, averaging at least 40 receiving yards per game three years running, and working with QB Justin Herbert will be conducive to continued efficiency through the air. Ekeler should also get a little more help from his offensive line after the Bolts spent a first-round pick on Zion Johnson, and there's room for another huge year even if Sony Michel, Joshua Kelley or Isaiah Spiller spells Ekeler on some early downs.
Last year Ekeler got a chance to prove he could be a bell cow after Melvin Gordon departed for Denver, but instead he may have created more doubt about his small frame holding up under that kind of workload. Lower-body injuries cost him six games, but when he was in the lineup he produced, maintaining good efficiency on the ground with increased volume and still shining as a receiver. Ekeler runs with surprising power and his low pad level makes him tough to bring down, but elusiveness is his best asset, helping to make up for his lack of breakaway speed. Justin Herbert's emergence last year kept defenses from keying on Ekeler, but poor offensive line play prevented him from fully exploiting the emptier fronts he saw. The Chargers brought in a new coaching staff this offseason, and offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi has a lot of experience feeding a dynamic pass-catching back from his time featuring Alvin Kamara for the Saints. With Joshua Kelley, Justin Jackson and sixth-round rookie Larry Rountree representing his backfield alternatives, Lombardi figures to depend on Ekeler, so long as the 26-year-old holds up physically.
Melvin Gordon's holdout last season opened the door for Ekeler to show what he could do in a consistent lead role, and he racked up 490 scrimmage yards and six touchdowns in the first four games before Gordon slunk back on to the roster. Ekeler's usage fell after that, but he still had moments to shine later in the year, including a 213-yard eruption against the Jaguars in Week 14. Heading into his fourth NFL season, the undrafted rookie out of Western State Colorado seems set as the Chargers' new No. 1 back with Gordon now a Bronco, giving Ekeler his chance to dispel the notion - once and for all - that he's only a passing-down specialist. His agility and low pad level have always made him difficult to bring down on first contact, and his broken tackle rate was 14th in the league among backs with at least 100 carries - comparable to bulky runners like Derrick Henry and Mark Ingram. Ekeler may need to find extra production on the ground, however, as Philip Rivers' departure for Indianapolis will give the Bolts offense a different look this season. The scheme won't change with offensive coordinator Shane Steichen returning, but Rivers' penchant for flipping passes to his backs is legendary - something that neither Tyrod Taylor nor Justin Herbert is likely to match. Ekeler will hope to make up for it with additional rushing volume and potentially more snaps, taking the lead over Justin Jackson and rookie fourth-round pick Joshua Kelley in the Chargers backfield.
Ekeler continued to impress for the Chargers in 2018, finishing just shy of 1,000 scrimmage yards despite missing two games late in the season with a concussion. He gets typecast as a scatback due to his size, but Ekeler has more than proven himself on the ground --- he posted at least 5.2 YPC in both his NFL campaigns thanks to a low center of gravity and strong leg drive through contact. Ekeler has plus elusiveness and balance as well, allowing him to find extra yards in traffic even if he doesn't have breakaway speed. His 3.8 yards after contact per carry ranked second in the league to Nick Chubb's 4.3. Ekeler is not a natural receiver when it comes to running routes, but he has soft hands and any back with some skill will see plenty of targets from Philip Rivers. Ekeler is entrenched in the No. 2 spot behind Melvin Gordon, but with Gordon playing 16 games only once in his career, odds are good that Ekeler will find himself in a starting role at least a couple times in 2019. Those odds improved a step further when Gordon decided to hold out from training camp, hoping to gain leverage in negotiations for a contract extension. As a result, Ekeler and Justin Jackson are handling first-team reps during the early portion of training camp.
If there's one thing Philip Rivers likes, it's an undersized receiving back. Over the last decade, players like Darren Sproles and Danny Woodhead have built their careers running wheel routes around frustrated linebackers and providing a security blanket for the quarterback. Last year it was Ekeler's turn to fill that role, and while it took the undrafted rookie a while to earn Rivers' trust, by Week 10 he was an integral part of the Chargers' attack, catching 12 of 13 targets for 171 yards and two touchdowns over a four-game span before a broken finger cut short his productive run. At 5-10, 200, Ekeler isn't going to supplant Melvin Gordon on early downs, but he runs with some surprising power for his size and can contribute a bit on the ground, even if his bread-and-butter will always be catching passes and making defenders miss in space. The team drafted Justin Jackson in the seventh round to provide extra depth in the backfield, but if Ekeler stays healthy his role should only grow.
An undrafted rookie out of Division II Western State, the 195-pound Ekeler surprisingly survived roster cutdown day in early September, slotting in behind Melvin Gordon and Branden Oliver on the initial depth chart. The Chargers might still add more talent in the backfield, but if not, Ekeler could get some touches early in the season.
More Fantasy News
Not getting tag
RBLos Angeles Chargers
February 27, 2024
The Chargers don't plan to give Ekeler a franchise tag, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports.
ANALYSIS
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Disappointing close to season
RBLos Angeles Chargers
January 7, 2024
Ekeler rushed the ball 10 times for 11 yards in Sunday's 13-12 loss to the Chiefs. He added seven receptions on eight targets for 38 yards.
ANALYSIS
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Totals 50 yards in loss
RBLos Angeles Chargers
December 31, 2023
Ekeler rushed 13 times for 46 yards and caught his only target for four yards in Sunday's 16-9 loss to the Broncos.
ANALYSIS
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Lead role resumes under new HC
RBLos Angeles Chargers
December 23, 2023
Ekeler rushed 15 times for 63 yards and caught three of four targets for 21 yards in Saturday's 24-22 loss to the Bills.
ANALYSIS
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Major role reduction in loss
RBLos Angeles Chargers
December 14, 2023
Ekeler rushed five times for nine yards and brought in four of six targets for 29 yards in the Chargers' 63-21 loss to the Raiders on Thursday night.
ANALYSIS
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