Every week during the NFL season, ESPN’s senior fantasy analyst Matthew Berry writes a long-form piece that culminates in his “loves” and “hates,” also known as the players he thinks should be started, or not, in fantasy that given week.
For Week 1, a lone Charger is included, on either side, but you’ll be happy to know it was on the Love list.
That player is Mr. RBI, himself, Austin Ekeler.
Berry believes Ekeler has the chance to be the best running back in Week one, but deems he’s a close second to Las Vegas’ Josh Jacobs, who plays the Carolina Panthers. Why is Berry so high on Ekeler in his first game as the bonafide starter? Well, the Bengals gave up the most rushing yards in 2019 and didn’t get a whole lot better on defense. They also allowed the sixth-most yards per reception by opposing running backs, which obviously bodes well for back of Ekeler’s skillset.
“While I expect Cincy’s offense to take big steps forward this year, I’m still out on their defense,” says Berry. “There’s usually a lot of regret during a Bengals game, but this week it’s from those who passed on The Eck early in drafts.”
Berry predicts Ekeler to finish with 15.6 points against the Bengals. In a non-PPR (points per reception) league, that’s just a hair under 100 total yards and a touchdown. Not a bad outing, but I personally think he’ll do even better than that. If the Chargers find themselves down late, he’ll get plenty of looks as Taylor and Co. marches methodically down the field.
How do you all feel about Berry’s predictions for Ekeler? Do you agree with him, or do you think it will be a tough outing against Cincinnati?