They say that all good things must come to an end. It’s a saying that extends to fantasy football in 2019 as well — because the run of Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler as a fantasy stud appears to be over.
Through four weeks this season, only Carolina’s Christian McCaffrey has piled up more PPR fantasy points among running backs than Ekeler. If Week 4 was his swan song as the Chargers’ lead back, it was a doozy — 23 total touches, 122 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
However, with Melvin Gordon back on the team for over a week now, even Ekeler himself admitted to Jeff Miller of the Los Angeles Times that his days of 20-plus touches and 100-plus yards every week are probably over.
“I’m a football player, so whatever you ask of me, whether you need me to run the ball, pass-block, play special teams, that’s my role,” Ekeler said. “I’m starting in that role this week. We have some guys banged up right now and we need all the help we can get. So my role right now might change because (Melvin) is coming back. … Obviously, I want to be the starter, but I don’t need to be No. 1 on the depth chart.”
This isn’t to say that Ekeler’s fantasy value will evaporate with Gordon back on the field — he’s shown in the past he can be a viable points per reception league “Flex” option at the very least even with Gordon functioning as the team’s lead back.
Heading into a matchup with a Denver team that’s allowed the sixth-most PPR fantasy points to running backs in 2019, both Ekeler and Gordon are on the fantasy RB2 radar in Week 5. But while Ekeler won’t be removed from the “Studs” list in this article just yet (he’s earned a little time in the sun), his days there are probably numbered.
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City (vs. Indianapolis)
Deshaun Watson, Houston (vs. Atlanta)
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (at Dallas)
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore (at Pittsburgh)
SPOT-START OF THE WEEK
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati (vs. Arizona)
Cincinnati is 0-4 and a hot mess of a football team after getting blown out by then-winless Pittsburgh on Monday night. But despite being sacked a career-high eight times by Pittsburgh, Dalton insisted after the game that Cincinnati isn’t that far away.
“It’s definitely been tough, but where we’re at right now, we have to understand that every game is important at this point, and for us, we’ve got to figure out who we are,“ Dalton said, via the team’s website. “We’ve got the guys here. We’ve got the guys on this team, and we just have to go out and get our minds right and have all the attention to detail. All the stuff that you have to have to be successful. You know, this will be a big week for us.”
Maybe he took one too many shots.
Cincinnati is admittedly a mess. But Dalton’s shown that he can put up numbers even amid this dumpster fire if the matchup’s right, and Sunday Cincinnati hosts an Arizona team that’s third in fantasy points surrendered to quarterbacks in 2019.
ROLL THEM OUT
Tom Brady, New England (at Washington)
Brady was quiet in last week’s win over Buffalo, but it’s unlikely that he’ll have two down weeks in a row as New England continues its tour of the NFL’s tomato cans. Washington is tied for the league lead in touchdown passes allowed this year.
Jacoby Brissett, Indianapolis (at Kansas City)
Brissett’s quietly been a productive fantasy asset of late, ranking inside the Top 10 fantasy options at his position over the last two weeks. That should continue Sunday night at Arrowhead Stadium —Indianapolis will probably have little recourse but to go pass-heavy against Kansas City.
Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay (at New Orleans)
Winston’s coming off one off the best games of his NFL career — a 385-yard, four-touchdown explosion in Tampa Bay’s stunning 55-40 Week 4 win over the defending NFC champions. Tampa Bay is unbeaten on the road this year and face a New Orleans team that has given up the most fantasy points to quarterbacks in 2019.
SIT THEM DOWN
Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers (vs. Denver)
This week’s AFC West matchup with winless Denver sets up well for the Chargers tailbacks, but not so much for the team’s veteran signal-caller — only New England has allowed fewer fantasy points to quarterbacks this year than Denver.
Dak Prescott, Dallas (vs. Green Bay)
After a red-hot start to the season, Prescott cooled off in last week’s loss to New Orleans, passing for fewer than 225 yards without a score. The sledding won’t be easy Sunday against an improved Green Bay defense that ranks third in the league against the pass after a month.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (at Dallas)
Fantasy owners finally got a Rodgers-esque effort from No. 12 in last week’s loss at Philadelphia, but a fourth quiet stat line in five games could be coming in Week 5. Not only does Rodgers draw a Bottom 5 matchup, but he’s probably going to be without top wideout Davante Adams.