Oct. 5 (UPI) — Fantasy football team owners likely will need replacement options for Austin Ekeler and Nick Chubb for the foreseeable future after the star running backs sustained Week 4 injuries.
Chubb picked up a right knee injury after he was rolled up on by a Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman in the first quarter of a Cleveland Browns win Sunday in Arlington, Texas.
Ekeler sustained left leg injuries after he was hit several times near the end of the first quarter of the Los Angeles Chargers loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday in Tampa, Fla.
Both star running backs are expected to get MRI scans on Monday to reveal the full extent of the damage. Sources told ESPN and Fox Sports that Ekeler could miss several weeks due to a hyperextension of his knee and a hamstring issue.
“The last I heard it was a hamstring (injury), but the way that man limped off the field [didn’t look good]. I don’t know how bad it is, but it looked pretty bad,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn told reporters Sunday.
Chubb grabbed his right knee and was in noticeable pain after he sustained his injury. He could miss multiple games if the injury proves to be serious.
The Browns host the Indianapolis Colts at 4:25 p.m. EDT Sunday in Cleveland. The Chargers battle the New Orleans Saints at 8:15 p.m. EDT on Oct. 12 in New Orleans.
Chargers rookie running back Joshua Kelley has 174 yards and a touchdown on 174 carries this season. The fourth-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft had just seven yards on nine carries in Sunday’s loss.
Kelley has been the most productive back-up behind Ekeler this season, but I expect the Chargers to use more of a committee approach than the Browns will in the absence of Chubb.
Justin Jackson also should see an increased workload for the Chargers, which should someone limit Kelley’s productivity as a fantasy football option.
Kelley is a low-end RB2 or flex play going forward, but should only be used in good matchups.
The Browns will turn the bulk of the workload over to Kareem Hunt if Chubb misses an extended period of time. Hunt is arguably the most capable backup running back in the NFL. He should be started — regardless of match-up — going forward.
The 2017 NFL leading rusher has 317 yards from scrimmage and five touchdowns this season. The Browns also have one of the most run-heavy offenses in the NFL.
I expect Hunt to post RB1 production through October. He averaged 6.45 yards per carry and scored two touchdowns in Sunday’s win over the Cowboys.
“We are working as a team,” Hunt said Sunday. “I am proud of those guys up front. Hopefully, we get [Chubb] back soon. He is a brother to me.”
Keep Ekeler and Chubb on your fantasy football bench until you get more clarity on the injuries.
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