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Austin Ekeler gears up for bigger fantasy role in 2018

The Chargers found a complement for Melvin Gordon in their undrafted rookie rusher next season.

Washington Redskins v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The road to an NFL roster was long for rookie undrafted free agent Austin Ekeler. Ekeler entered training camp as the No. 7 running back for Los Angeles Rams, but he skyrocketed to the backup rusher role by the end of his rookie campaign. Ekeler finished the season with 260 yards and two touchdowns on 47 carries, and he added 27 catches for 279 yards and three touchdowns in the passing game.

The storybook rookie season for Ekeler did not have a perfect ending: His year was cut short by a broken hand. He only played with special teams in Weeks 16 and 17 after he suffered the injury against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 15.

Looking ahead to 2018

The Chargers have found their complement to Melvin Gordon in the backfield with Ekeler. The former Western State speedster established himself as a good change-of-pace back that can do damage especially catching the ball out of the backfield. Ekeler’s top priority this summer will be rehabbing his broken hand, but he also needs to work on ball security after having two costly fumbles in 2017.

Fantasy Slant

Ekeler is an appealing rusher, especially in PPR leagues. He should see a lot more action in 2018, which gives his fantasy stock a big boost. He is still working behind an excellent RB in Gordon, though. Ekeler will likely fall to the ninth or 10th round of the draft next year. He is a solid RB3 with upsides going into next season.