Austin Ekeler had one of, if not the biggest, breakout seasons for a fantasy running back in 2022. Ekeler’s talent was always apparent but he struggled to provide elite fantasy production due to injuries and being used as purely a receiving back in the Chargers’ offense. However, out of necessity in 2021, the Chargers committed to using Ekeler as their bell cow running back and he finished the season as the 2nd highest scoring fantasy running back.
While Ekeler will still be an extremely valuable member of fantasy teams in 2022, it is unrealistic to believe he will continue the same level of production from last year. A major part of Ekeler’s fantasy success in 2021 came from scoring 20 touchdowns (12 rushing and 8 receiving). Going into 2021 Ekeler had only scored 9 rushing touchdowns in his first 4 years combined. In addition Ekeler’s mark of 8 receiving touchdowns has only been reached 4 times by a running back in the last 25 years. Ekeler was utilized more than ever in goal line situations last year simply because the Chargers did not have any other quality running backs on the roster. But in the fourth round of this year's draft the Chargers selected 6’1 215 pound running back Isaiah Spiller out of Texas A&M, who was extremely productive in college and looks to be involved immediately in the Chargers offense. Spiller will take some rushing work from Ekeler, especially around the goal line, which will limit his fantasy upside in 2022. However, the Chargers’ offense will still be one of the best in the NFL, and Ekeler’s role in the receiving game makes him an extremely safe fantasy draft pick who will almost certainly finish as a top 10 RB once again.