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Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler and Yahoo Sports’ Fantasy Expert Liz Loza recap Austin’s performance in the Chargers big win over the Bengals. We break out the medical tent to examine the bumps and bruises Austin is taking in to week 15 against the Giants. Which of the Bolts backup receivers could take advantage of additional targets if Keenan Allen and Mike Williams are out of the lineup due to COVID protocols? Liz and Austin play a game of Rebound or Repeat. Will struggling fantasy stars Ja’Marr Chase, Ezekiel Elliott and Lamar Jackson bounce back in week 14? And finally, the fantasy playoffs will begin next week for most leagues, so Liz offers a tip for postseason success, as do a couple of our viewers.
LIZA LOZA: Yeah, look at the teams that are making the playoffs, and look at their rosters. And if they have Joe Mixon, get yourself Samaje Perine. If they have Antonio Gibson, who just went off, go get yourself Jaret Patterson. If they have Austin Ekeler, who should they get?
AUSTIN EKELER: Jesse Jackson for sure.
LIZA LOZA: What is up, everyone? Welcome to Ekeler's Edge. I'm Liz Loza. And this is, of course, Chargers' running back, fantasy football superstar, and Fortnite phenom, Austin Ekeler.
AUSTIN EKELER: I don't know about the Fortnite thing. But what is up, everyone? Glad to be back for another episode. Looking forward to it.
LIZA LOZA: We've got a great show for you. It's time for a health check, following the Chargers big win in Sin City. We'll play a game of rebound or repeat with free struggling fantasy stars, and we'll share a few tips for the upcoming fantasy playoffs. Austin, your Chargers not only beat the Bengals, but your fantasy managers were happy, once again, as you tallied 104 total yards and rushed in a one yard score. You also won the RB showdown versus Joe Mixon. Mixon collected just 54 total yards in the score.
AUSTIN EKELER: I told you, I think my average score's at around 100 yards and a touchdown, somewhere right in there. So I ended up picking that up, and we got up to an early lead, which definitely plays a factor into the running game, which limited Mixon and his use. And then I know he went out with some type of injury. It was a different day for your boy.
You know, I obviously fumbled twice, which I'm never ever trying to do. It's like the ultimate running backs in. Nonetheless, ended up pulling out the win, secured RB2, got to chase down Jonathan Taylor now. He's on by, so I got an opportunity to close the gap.
LIZA LOZA: Well, let's talk about your health after that big win as you try to close the gap. We saw you limping off the field at the end of the game. And on Monday, your head coach, Brandon Staley, said you're dealing with, what he called, just bumps and bruises. I want to know about some of those bruises, specifically.
AUSTIN EKELER: Yeah, bumps and bruises can meet a lot of different things. But yeah, I came limping off. Yeah, I just have something going on with my ankle. It's the same ankle that I injured against the Raiders week four, just on the opposite side, some type of bruising, and a little sprain in there. So just something I'll be working through just to try to strengthen, see how much I can actually run on this thing. Definitely, I'll be limiting myself throughout the week, just making sure, hey, I'm good to go on Sunday. Of course, that's the most important.
LIZA LOZA: Well, unfortunately, your ankle is not the only health issue facing your squad. On Monday, the Chargers placed receiver Keenan Allen on the reserve/COVID list. Obviously, you and the rest of your offensive stars will try to fill the void. But looking at this from a fantasy perspective, which Charger could benefit the most from Allen's absence?
AUSTIN EKELER: I mean, there's no real body that can fulfill Keenan, right? He's very, very special. That's why we love him so much on our offense because of his talents. He's the magic man when it comes to running routes and getting open. But yeah, we're going to have to rely on some of our other guys. I think Josh Palmer, our rookie. He's been getting some action. I think he's going to get a little bit more. Jalen Guyton is going to have to step up as well. And then, also, just the rest of us, too, right? But as far as a guy that I think is going to get more because of it would probably be, yeah, Josh Palmer.
LIZA LOZA: Let's begin with your favorite fantasy receiver, Ja'Marr Chase. As you know, the rookie started the season hot but has cooled considerably since Cincy's bye. You saw him flip the script on that touchdown turned interception last Sunday. Do you think he can rebound, or will he have a repeat in week 14 versus the Niners?
AUSTIN EKELER: But there's this thing called the rookie wall. And I'm like, "Is he hitting the rookie wall?" Where it's like, your rookie year, you go through your college career, you immediately start training for pro day, then you immediately start training for combine, stuff like that. And it's just such a long year. By the time you're like week eight, nine-- I remember it hit me in week 12 my rookie year-- you're just worn out. And you just you don't feel like yourself. You just feel tired. I'm going to say he's going to rebound coming into this next game.
LIZA LOZA: I hadn't considered the rookie wall. That's a really interesting insight. I think, though, I'm probably going to say rebound as well. Because when we look at the 49ers secondary, like, Josh Norman has not been the same since Derrick Henry stiff-armed his soul. And Emmanuel Moseley, the other lead cornerback in San Francisco, is out with an ankle injury, which should ease things up for Ja'Marr Chase if he is feeling that wall. So I have him projected for a little bit over 70 yards and a touchdown. I think he rebounds.
Next, let's focus on the running back position. Ezekiel Elliott has been playing through a knee injury since week four. That's resulted in four straight games under 50 rushing yards for fantasy managers. In week 14, the Cowboys travel to D.C. for a very important division contest against The Football Team. Do you think Zeke can rebound, or will he repeat?
AUSTIN EKELER: Zeke, man. Injuries. Injuries. I could speak firsthand, when you're coming through an injury or trying to, like, really play through it. And you might be 100% now, but your 100% is knocked back so far because of that injury. Or it might still be there and still be limiting your body, because you're trying to protect it. And he's also got, you know, Pollard right behind him, who's playing lights out, staying consistent.
I could see the Cowboys continuing to limit him. In my opinion, like, what's the point? Why are we pushing him? Like, let's let him chill. Like, if he can take some, let's do that just so he can start to get a rhythm, his body can start to get back into it. But if he's not 100%, let's lean on Pollard a little bit more. So I'm going to say repeat, just because I think they're going to lean on Pollard.
LIZA LOZA: I am going to say repeat, because I think the plan for Zeke, is that they're going to want to limit his touches. But also, his goal line equity is so incredible. He has at least 11 goal line carries on the season. And even though he managed under 50 rushing yards over that span of time I mentioned, he also managed three scores over that time. So I think you have to make him an RB 15 regardless. Because he'll probably get a touchdown, even if they're rushing yards aren't there.
Finally, let's chat about Lamar Jackson. Last Sunday at Pittsburgh, he was sacked a career high seven times. He's also thrown 13 picks through 11 games. This Sunday, he'll travel to Cleveland to face a Browns team that held him to under 20 fantasy points just two weeks ago. So can he rebound or will this be a repeat of week 12?
AUSTIN EKELER: Yeah. Yeah. Last week the man was running for his life. But I think that just comes with playing Pittsburgh. They want to rush the passer. I think it was just a match-up issue when it came to playing the Steelers last week. The last time they played the Browns, he threw four picks and still won the game somehow. Bah, the Baltimore Ravens are always in it. I just don't see how you can hold this man down forever, if he's still healthy.
I see a rebound because he's just too big of a part of this offense for really, I think, any team to really hold him down. It's almost have to match his tempo. Like, hey, we're going have to go score points if we're an offense going to play Lamar Jackson.
LIZA LOZA: Lamar Jackson is special. He's salty. He's going to take two to three sacks in this game, right? Myles Garrett is a bad man. He leads the league, by the way, in 43 sacks. But if he can stay healthy, he's going to be a top five option, because of that invisible juice that my colleague, Hank Williams, says is in his legs. So I'm with you. Let's rebound here.
All right, Austin. We're a week away from the start of the fantasy playoffs for most leagues, so this feels like a good time to talk playoff strategy.
AUSTIN EKELER: Yeah. Let's do it. I mean, my teams, I only have probably one that's going, so unfortunately my other teams fell through. But hey, we got one in there, so I'll take some tips for sure.
LIZA LOZA: OK, Austin, don't take this personally, but my number one tip is to stash backup running backs. And I'm not talking just the obvious choices, like Alexander Mattison and Tony Pollard. I mean Samaje Perine, Khalil Herbert, Ronald Jones, Jaret Patterson, Marlon Mack. Oh, my goodness, go get yourself Marlon Mack. And not because you've rostered Jonathan Taylor, but because your competition might have.
In the fantasy playoffs, you want to give yourself every advantage, while also trying to disadvantage your opponents on the regular. So go stash all those running backs. Even if you don't end up using them, you'll want to know you have them JIC.
AUSTIN EKELER: So, let me ask you this. Are you-- are you looking at your opponent's roster and taking their backup running backs? OK. OK.
LIZA LOZA: Yeah, look at the teams that are making the playoffs and look at their rosters. And if they have Joe Mixon, get yourself Samaje Perine. If they have Antonio Gibson, who just went off, go get yourself Jaret Patterson. If they have Austin Ekeler, who should they get?
AUSTIN EKELER: Justin Jackson for sure.
LIZA LOZA: OK.
AUSTIN EKELER: For sure.
LIZA LOZA: Justin Jackson.
AUSTIN EKELER: I got him on my team too. Sheesh, I need this man to go off. [LAUGHING]
LIZA LOZA: [LAUGHING] Wait. You added Justin Jackson?
AUSTIN EKELER: Yeah, I added Justin Jackson. I mean, I take a limited number of reps, so someone else has to go in there, right? There's going to be another back that's going in. And, you know, last week we saw Justin Jackson. I think that's going to be what it's going to be going forward. So we'll see, but yeah I picked up my guy.
LIZA LOZA: Fantasy stars, they're just like us. All right, for more postseason tips, we turn to social media and asked our followers to share their best tips for success in the fantasy playoffs. This first one comes from @armandoandrade9, who suggests, "Always consider weather and start players with the most target slash carries based on the past three weeks." OK. The second half, sure. But also the first half, as we saw on Monday night between Buffalo and the Patriots. Weather concerns are obviously huge, especially for those teams that play outdoors and not a dome.
AUSTIN EKELER: Yeah. I know the weather is a huge factor. I remember a playoff game I used to-- played in Foxborough. We were playing the Patriots, and oh, my God, it was so cold. And I just remember just being out there on kickoff return, just literally shaking. So it definitely plays a part. It's performance. So, yeah. I agree with that tip.
LIZA LOZA: And kickers too, right? Now that I'm thinking about it. Find yourself a dome kicker down the stretch. Like, kickers, people have a lot of big feelings about in fantasy. But this is a situation where, if your league requires that you start a kicker, find one that's on a dome team.
And our final one comes from @lonewolfX0, who simply says, "Hoard defenses." Maybe not so much hoard defenses. Definitely hoard backup running backs. But look at the upcoming schedule, and factoring in the weather by the way, when you're picking up and streaming your defenses down the stretch.
AUSTIN EKELER: Those are some legit answers, though. I was expecting some more troll answers like, "Oh, bribe the people that aren't going to make it, to drop some of their key players." You know, stuff like that. So OK. OK. I see y'all out there.
LIZA LOZA: Come on, man. The viewers of Ekeler's Edge are evolved, Austin.
AUSTIN EKELER: OK. OK.
LIZA LOZA: That's going to do it for this edition of Ekeler's Edge.
AUSTIN EKELER: Yes. Thank you all, for joining us and tuning in. And good luck in this last week, going into the playoffs. I know I need some help. But until next week, you guys have a good one.