How worried should fantasy owners be about Austin Ekeler?

The Los Angeles Chargers running back has not played since the season opener, and looks ready to miss his third game in a row.
Sep 10, 2023; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler (30)
Sep 10, 2023; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler (30) / Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Austin Ekeler is nursing an ankle injury that seemed to be a minor thing at first, but that is turning into a more long-term injury that could have lasting implications. If you are an Ekeler owner, how worried should you be?

The answer, considerably worried.

If you are in a seasonal (redraft) league, Ekeler was almost certainly your first-round pick. It's always tough when that player misses games, but when it turns into multiple games, it puts your lineup in a tough spot.

If you have Ekeler in a dynasty or keeper league, you're obviously going to have to show some patience here as he has been a tremendous player when he has been on the field. However, this injury, a high ankle sprain, coupled with his stance during the offseason where he was looking for more money, could certainly lead to some changes for him down the road.

Ekeler came out of the gate this season hot, rushing for 117 yards and a touchdown on just 16 carries against the Miami Dolphins. He added four receptions for 47 yards, scoring massive points for your fantasy team. But he also sustained the ankle injury in that game and hasn't played since.

If you drafted Josh Kelley or grabbed him off waivers to serve as Ekeler's handcuff, you have probably been greatly disappointed. And that exemplifies Ekeler's worth and makes him worth the extra money he was looking for from the Chargers.

In the immediate future, the injury is a concern because high ankle sprains can be tricky and tough to recover from quickly. Ekeler is listed as doubtful for the team's Week 4 game against the Las Vegas Raiders and then the team's bye comes at a great time, which will be the following week. It is likely that the team and Ekeler have targeted that bye as the point to get ready to be back on the field.

However, if he is not on the field for the team's Week 6 game against the Dallas Cowboys, which is on a Monday night, that will be a troubling sign. If you have him in a seasonal league, that is the game you are really going to need to see him back for.

If you are in a dynasty league and you have Ekeler, there is a decent chance that Ekeler, who is a free agent next season and requested a trade this offseason, will be playing somewhere else next year. These next several weeks will be important to his future with the Chargers and as an owner of him in a keeper league, you probably don't want to see him on the field until he is 100 percent.

Ekeler is also one of the more fun players in the league to own because, through his own social media platforms, he openly talks about trying to help his owners win their fantasy games.

He will be 29 years old next May so his perceived value is going to start to go down. With that in mind, trading Ekeler away in a dynasty league and trying to get at least one first-round pick back in return might not be the worst idea right now due to the uncertainty with his future.

Follow the reports with Ekeler heading into Week 6 (he did return to light practice this week) but if for some reason he's still not ready to play against the Cowboys, you may need to consider a drastic move.