Chargers running back Austin Ekeler opened a big can of worms on Yahoo’s Fantasy Football Forecast with Matt Harmon. Ekeler commented on his stat line from Week 1 against the Raiders and admitted that he needs to play better, then went so far as to welcome “constructive criticism” from fantasy football fans.
Anyone who’s spent 30 seconds on any social media platform knows this probably won’t end well for Ekeler. Answering crazed fans and talking back and forth with them privately is alright if you’ve got the stomach for it. But to go out publicly and welcome any and everyone is essentially what Austin’s done. The floodgates are officially open.
Hopefully, Ekeler is mentally prepared because there will be other games where he doesn’t play as well as he would’ve liked. Ekeler’s Week 1 performance wasn’t outstanding, but LA won the game. Austin produced 36 yards rushing and 36 receiving against the Raiders. He knows 72 total yards isn’t getting it done in reality or the fantasy football world, which prompted his DM invite.
In the first game of Week 2 on Thursday Night Football, the Chargers (1-0) face the Chiefs (1-0) in Kansas City. Division matchups are always fun, but these teams could be fighting for the AFC West crown all season. Some experts have picked the Chargers to take over the division this year. The last time this division had a champion that wasn’t the Chiefs was in 2015 when the Broncos did it en route to a Super Bowl win. The Chiefs have won this division six years in a row.
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No doubt the Chargers are looking for Ekeler to bounce back against the Chiefs, especially with Pro Bowl wide receiver Keenan Allen missing in action with a hamstring injury. Ekeler’s dual-threat capabilities will undoubtedly need to be displayed in KC Thursday night.
So, we’ll find out soon how this open invite of Ekeler’s pans out. If he comes out and has a great game, the fantasy football crowd will be happy, win, lose or tie. But if Ekeler has a stinker and fails to touch the end zone in consecutive games, this could get ugly. He mentioned blocking those who bring negativity, but we’ll see if he can keep up with the rate at which they come.
Last season Ekeler scored 12 touchdowns on the ground and added another eight TD receptions. A 20-TD campaign will make any player a fantasy darling which is why Ekeler is such a valued draft pick in 2022. Ekeler had a breakout season in ’21 with 911 rushing yards which is his career-high. Austin also had 70 catches out of the backfield, the second most of his career. Fantasy football fans want that same production and more out of Ekeler this year.
If he can’t meet their high standards, now they have free rein to bug him directly every week.