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What to do with Melvin Gordon, Austin Ekeler in Week 16 fantasy football

Which Chargers running back comes with the most upside in a match-up with the Oakland Raiders?

Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler runs for a touchdown in second quarter against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Week 15 was a nightmare for Melvin Gordon, as he fumbled twice and was subsequently benched. He ceded carries to Justin Jackson and ended the game with 7.4 points. Ekeler was able to produce a decent stat line, gaining most of his points through the air with five receptions for 62 yards to total 13.1 points. While the fumbles for Gordon were unexpected, that game was anticipated to be Ekeler’s to own, as Minnesota is friendlier to pass catching backs.

What can be expected in Week 16 from the Raider’s defense which ranks fourteenth against the run in the NFL? Teams average 25.9 carries per game against the Raiders and they have allowed 13 rushing TDs on the season, while forcing only 2 fumbles. They have allowed greater than 15 fantasy points to Joe Mixon, Leveon Bell, and Derrick Henry recently, but also held Leonard Fournette to 12.3 points last week.

Of note, the Raiders have a laundry list of injuries on their practice reports this week including two linebackers and a defensive tackle, but all of their standout players against the run appear to be healthy. We break down the fantasy implications below.

Fantasy football analysis, Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon

Fumbling is not a consistent problem for Gordon, so it is unlikely that the Chargers continue to punish him into a new week of play. The Chargers are seven point favorites this week, so the game script may play into Gordon’s favor as they put the ball on the ground for clock management. While this is not exactly a match-up to target, it’s also not one to avoid. Gordon had success against the Raiders in early November when he posted a 100+ yard performance and scored a rushing TD, and he should provide a solid volume based floor with some upside this week.

Fantasy football analysis, Los Angeles Chargers running back, Austin Ekeler

Austin Ekeler has averaged 18 points per game over his past six games and has managed to carve out his own space for fantasy productivity each week, regardless of the carry split with Melvin Gordon. When the Chargers faced Oakland earlier this year, Ekeler found success through the air with a receiving touchdown. Ekeler has seen increased involvment in the game plan since then and should continue to be a reliable asset for fantasy owners this week. Ekeler’s upside may be limited due to game script, but he has maintained a high floor all season.

Start/Sit Advice:

Start Gordon as an RB2 with upside

Start Ekeler as an RB2