With the first pick in the 2022 Fantasy Football Draft, Austin Ekeler selects … Austin Ekeler?
The Los Angeles Chargers running back said he would draft himself if he had the top pick in a fantasy league and that other owners also should consider taking him very early.
What makes the 26-year-old believe he is worthy of the top spot? His consistency, availability and strategy as he manages his workload to remain productive over the course of a full season.
"If you have me on your team, I do my best to even just — you can even go ask my management — like, ‘Hey, make sure you limit my touches. Like, you got to make sure I can get through the entire season.’ So what’s the best of my ability in fantasy? It’s availability. I’m playing every single damn game. And guess what? I’m also going to score you 20 points a game."
Ekeler had a breakout season in his fourth year in the league, ranking as the second-best fantasy running back behind the Colts' Jonathan Taylor. Ekeler set career bests on the ground with 206 carries, 911 yards and 12 touchdowns in 16 games. He also added 70 catches for 647 yards and eight touchdowns.
Ekeler, who in 2021 was drafted mostly in the late first round or early second round, also said there is added incentive to draft him in fantasy football this season.
"I’m going to be flying some giveaway winners out to my games, if you have me on your fantasy football team," he said. "So, if you’re trying to look for a little mix-up, a little community engagement, some easy dubs, definitely have your boy on your team.”
Ekeler is staying busy during the offseason as co-owner of the Shoulda Been Stars in the Fan Controlled Football league, which allows fans to call plays and make the rules. Ekeler was asked by host Kahlief Adams if he is tempted to play in the 7-on-7 indoor league like fellow owner Marshawn Lynch did last season and former NFL players Johnny Manziel and Terrell Owens are set to do when the second season begins on April 16.
"I'm still a current player in the NFL so there's a conflict of interest there," Ekeler said. "As of now, the NFL has got some bigger checks so I think I'm going to hang on the NFL side for now. But, who knows, maybe in the future. Who knows? Never say never."