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Austin Ekeler Week 3 Outlook - Panthers at Chargers

By Mike Tagliere (FantasyPros), Thu, Sep 24th 2020, 10:17am EDT

Guess who ranks sixth in the NFL in carries? Ekeler... and Kelley. They both have 35 carries through two games. Ekeler has been more efficient and has two more targets, but Kelley is a real thing in fantasy. He has the same number of carries as fellow rookies Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Jonathan Taylor. Here's a crazy stat: Kelley totaled 23 carries in Week 2. Melvin Gordon didn't hit that number in any game through his last two years with the Chargers. Want more good news for these backs? A robust 56.1 percent of the production the Panthers have allowed to skill-position players has gone to running backs. No other team in the league has a number higher than 50.2 percent. Running backs have averaged 34.9 more PPR points per game than quarterbacks have against this Panthers defense. It's a limited sample size, sure, but you get the point. They've now allowed 33 rushing touchdowns to running backs over their last 18 games, while no other team in the league has allowed more than 19 in that span. Kelley has eight carries inside the red zone, while Ekeler has four to his name. I'm still siding with Ekeler as the one to play considering his passing-game usage, but the gap is shrinking. Ekeler needs to be played as a sturdy high-end RB2 while Kelley should be considered a high-end RB3, at minimum with the role he's walked into.

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