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Chargers Week 8 ‘Surge or Static’: Ekeler pushes through injury to satisfy fantasy GMs

Tough to find the silver linings from this one.

NFL: New England Patriots at Los Angeles Chargers Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Despite missing a pair of practice Thursday and Friday of last week, Ekeler came through for his fantasy owners by totaling over 120 yards of total offense and scoring an early touchdown. Unfortunately, that fantasy success did not translate to real-life success as the team fell 27-24 to the Patriots on Halloween.

Coinciding with the holiday, the performance by the Chargers was a bit more frightening than most probably expected. The team still scored 24 point, but that was only done in spite of numerous mistakes. Ill-timed penalties and miscommunication errors were abundant and it made the final score downright scary to look at.

But as always, we’re going to give players the kudos they deserve for their notable performances, as well as call out those who unfortunately couldn’t step up to the plate.

Without further ado, here are your “Surge or Static?” players from week eight.

Surge

K Dustin Hopkins

Hopkins made his Chargers debut on Sunday afternoon and despite not receiving a massive workload, he aced his first test inside SoFi Stadium.

Hopkins finished two-of-two on extra points and nailed a 48-yard field goal that helped the team regain the lead late in the third quarter.

Again, not a ton of opportunities, but leaving the field error-free is always a massive deal for any Chargers kicker.

RB Austin Ekeler

Expectations were somewhat reserved for Ekeler following a week of practice where he missed both Thursday and Friday’s sessions due to a hip injury that seemed to pop up out of nowhere. However, the Chargers’ RB1 locked himself into his fantasy lineup and that was enough to convince the fan base that they could expect the usual production out of their guy.

Ekeler finished with just 11 carries but turned it into 64 yards and a blood-pumping touchdown in which the entire offensive line, plus Justin Herbert, churned him over the goal line and into the end zone from five yards out. He also finished with six receptions, tied for the most on the team with Keenan Allen, and 60 receiving yards.

Static

TE Jared Cook

In a game where any other skill position not name Austin Ekeler or Keenan Allen failed to make much of a positive mark, it was the miscommunication between Cook and Herbert that ultimately sealed the Chargers’ fate against the Patriots.

On a third-and-10 from the Chargers’ 22-yard line, Herbert tossed a short pass to an unsuspecting Cook who was running to the flat. The ball was thrown to Cook’s outside shoulder, but Cook turned towards the inside, allowing the ball sail by his ear hole and into the waiting arms for safety Adrian Phillips. Before anyone could touch him down, Phillips got to his feet and sprinted into the end zone for a pick-six. The Patriots would complete the two-point attempt and take a seven-point lead with 10 minutes left in the game.

The error was only compounded by the fact that the Chargers offense was incredibly inept for most of the evening. Facing a seven-point deficit instead of a potential four or eight-point lead, the offense struggled to find any traction as they went three-and-out on the ensuing drive. Once the Pats were able to burn another six minutes off the clock and throw another three points on the board, it was all but over.

WR Mike Williams

Sunday’s game came and went without barely a mention of the Chargers’ 2021 breakout star. Williams, who leads the team with 517 yards and six touchdowns, managed just two receptions on five targets against the Patriots. It’s been a rough two-game stretch for Williams who also couldn’t manage more than a pair of catches against the Ravens, either.

Williams’ regression these past two outings seem to be closely tied to the struggles of Herbert. Both Baltimore and New England knew the recipe for success against this offense and exploited it thusly. For whatever odd reason, Williams has either been negated by opposing defenses or he’s not being game-planned into a position where he can help his quarterback in pressure situations.

Either way, it’s a problem. For as big as his breakout has been this year, he’s quickly reverted into that player we all believed wasn’t worth his price tag.