As Sunday’s kickoff draws closer for Week 11, fantasy football managers are hoping to have their rosters at full health as the final regular-season games approach. One player managers desperately need to see make his return from injury is Los Angeles Chargers RB Austin Ekeler. Will Austin Ekeler finally suit up again in Week 11, are what are the latest reports surrounding his health?
November 22 Update: Austin Ekeler has not been activated off the injured reserve. He will not play in Week 11.
One of the best things we have seen in recent years is the adoption of the fantasy football community by some NFL players. Chargers RB Austin Ekeler has been one of the NFL players who has routinely acknowledged the fantasy community and did so in one of his most recent tweets stating, “To all my fantasy owners that didn’t drop me… the time draws near.”
While watching the video can easily make anyone who rosters Austin Ekeler excited for his return from injury, we still need to be cautious if you are starting to build rosters around the running back for Week 11.
Initially reported by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Chargers’ RB Austin Ekeler suffered a Grade 2 hamstring strain during the team’s Week 4 matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It later came out by Ekeler himself during a live stream that part of the tendon essentially ripped off the bone, which is much closer to a Grade 3 injury.
Initially, the diagnosis was 4-6 weeks for his recovery period, but head coach Anthony Lynn said that Ekeler’s return would come “later rather than sooner,” according to Daniel Popper of The Athletic a few weeks ago.
The initial diagnosis on Austin Ekeler’s injury set his return for around this time period. He is actually able to come off of the injured reserve anytime if the team decided he was good to go and fully healed. Knowing that he is running, should fantasy managers expect to see Austin Ekeler return from his injury this week?
Is Austin Ekeler playing in Week 11?
Fantasy managers continue to ask if Austin Ekeler is set to return, or will his injury keep him from playing in Week 11? The answer is we probably won’t see him for at least another week. There is a massive difference between jogging and being ready to play in an NFL game.
We need to remember how bad Austin Ekeler’s injury was. Usually, these injuries take several months to heal, and they are at very high risk for re-injury. The fact that he is running at what seems to be 75% is a great sign and something he was unable to do up until now. As with any situation, we need to hear from the team, but it appears that Week 12 might be more realistic.
There is no question the team would want him back just as bad as anyone who selected Ekeler in the draft this year. He came out of the gates on fire and continued the hot streak he was on in 2019. In the first four weeks, Ekeler rushed 47 times for 236 yards (5.1 avg) and had one rushing touchdown. He was also extremely efficient in the air, catching all 16 targets for 143 yards (8.5 avg).
The Chargers play the New York Jets in Week 11, so there is no need to rush him back for that game anyway.
If Austin Ekeler doesn’t return in Week 11, RB Kalen Ballage is an interesting RB2 in fantasy
Kalen Ballage has established himself as the lead running back for the Chargers for now and likely until Austin Ekeler returns, especially with Justin Jackson on injured reserve. Ballage has played well the past two weeks with 33 carries for 137 yards and a touchdown, along with seven catches for 49 yards on nine targets against the Raiders and Miami Dolphins.
This week, he gets a great matchup against the 0-9 Jets and will be a low-end RB2 in fantasy, which is more than I ever thought I would say for him this year. He is my RB23 on the week as he makes his final stop on his North American Revenge Tour.
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