The Duel

Justin Jackson Fantasy Outlook Could Make Him a Sleeper if Melvin Gordon Holdout continues

Jason Schandl
Los Angeles Chargers v Pittsburgh Steelers
Los Angeles Chargers v Pittsburgh Steelers / Joe Sargent/Getty Images
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As Melvin Gordon's holdout continues, threatening to last into the regular season, it looks less likely we'll see him play for the Los Angeles Chargers this year and more likely that he could be traded.

The obvious top fantasy option in the Chargers' backfield without Gordon would be Austin Ekeler. Ekeler doesn't profile as an every-down workhorse back though, and that means you shouldn't be sleeping on Justin Jackson's 2019 fantasy football value while he's available at an average draft position (ADP) of RB54 (152nd overall).

Ekeler has certainly established himself as the team's lead back with Gordon out, but Justin Jackson is getting plenty of run with the first team this preseason.

In Weeks 13 and 14 of the 2018 season (when Gordon sat and both Ekeler and Jackson played) the snap share was further apart, with Ekeler playing 73 percent and Jackson playing 29 percent. Likely preparing to be without Gordon long-term, the Chargers appear to be working toward a more balance approach in the backfield.

We haven't seen much from Jackson at the NFL level, as he recorded only 65 touches as a rookie in 2018, but he did profile as a viable dual-threat back coming out of Norhtwestern. He played four college seasons, amassing 1,142 carries and 122 receptions. He also tested very well in both the 20-yard shuttle and the 3-cone drill at the combine, showing the kind of agility that lends itself to big-play ability if he gets the ball in space.

Ultimately, running back value in fantasy football comes down to opportunity. Beyond the extreme ends, efficiency is highly variable and takes a huge sample to level out.

With the Chargers' ramping up Jackson's workload already, there are some promising signs for what kind of opportunity he's going to see in 2019. Ekeler hasn't proven himself over a big sample size either, leaving plenty of room for Jackson's workload to continue to expand. That would make him a valuable 2019 fantasy football sleeper.


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Jason Schandl is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Jason Schandl also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jaymun. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.

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