Austin Ekeler vs Brian Robinson Jr.: Which Commanders RB Should You Draft in 2024 Fantasy Football?

Austin Ekeler reunites with a familiar face and will run alongside Brian Robinson Jr.

Monday’s free agency period opened the opportunity for multiple lead running backs from Los Angeles to New York to potentially find new teams before the upcoming season. As the week progressed, every big-name rusher found themselves dawning a new uniform. However, the move of Austin Ekeler from Los Angeles to Washington may be the most intriguing.

Once considered a long-term dominant punch of Ekeler and quarterback Justin Herbert, the Chargers have decided “no more.” Having the least salary cap space in the NFL, Los Angeles opted to gut its offense by letting Ekeler walk, releasing Mike Williams, and trading Keenan Allen all within 72 hours.

Ekeler signed a two-year, $11.4 million deal – nearly $5 million more for the same contract length as the Chargers snagged Gus Edwards for after his release. Edwards is currently on the books for $6.5 million for two years.


Ekeler, almost 29, will reunite with Commanders’ run game coordinator Anthony Lynn in Washington and will run alongside Brian Robinson Jr., who is coming off a career year. 

He was seven yards away from 1,000 total yards (628 rushing) in 2023-24, but he is coming off a down year in fantasy, in which he did not look healthy throughout the season.

In Week 1, Ekeler suffered a significant ankle injury. In that game, he amassed 161 total yards on 20 touches, including two explosive runs out of his 16 rushes. However, he was sidelined for the subsequent three weeks due to the injury. Upon his return, his performance waned, evidenced by just five runs exceeding 10 yards out of his final 163 rushes for the season.

Plus, his offensive line was ravaged by injury and finished 24th in run block win rate (70%). All in all, a mix of injury and surrounding talent mostly led to Ekeler’s massive downfall in 2023.

While he finished as the No. 1 overall running back after the 2022 season, Ekeler fell to No. 26 after the conclusion of last season. A steep price to pay for a likely first-round fantasy selection.

Ekeler went from averaging at least 20.5 PPR points per game in each of the previous two seasons to 12.1 PPR points last season in 14 games.

Nearing 30, his role is likely best suited as a third-down back with consistent usage in the passing game. Part of Ekeler’s appeal is his three-down ability. We’ll still see some duking and juking in D.C. in seasons to come, but the threat of a reliable receiver out of the backfield bodes well for multiple down usage and red zone efficiency. He’ll look to improve on his 13 FPPG (185 for the season) and six total scores.


As most NFL teams are sticking with a committee approach, the Commanders enter that conversation. 

While Washington said it would deploy both Robinson Jr. and Antonio Gibson – who has now signed with New England – many games last year saw a dominance of the former. Gibson only outscored Robinson Jr. in three games they played together.

In this current scenario, there’s a distinct skill-set difference between the two, with Robinson taking on the primary rushing duties while Ekeler transitions back to a role focused on change of pace and contributing in the passing game.

It’s anticipated that Washington, under the leadership of Lynn as run game coordinator and with Kliff Kingsbury as the new offensive coordinator, will prioritize a strong running game. Despite Kingsbury facing criticism during his initial tenure with the Cardinals, one of the unexpected successes was his capability to establish a successful ground attack, despite his reputation primarily revolving around the passing game before assuming the role.

Trusted sources currently have Ekeler taken higher in redraft leagues over Robinson Jr., but not by much. Ekeler has fallen to Round 5, while Robinson Jr. stays fairly stagnant in Round 7 (of 16).

It’s often difficult to draft committee running backs in the first few rounds, so it makes sense that this duo heads to the middle of the pack with little separation. The fantasy world could easily see the backs trade higher fantasy points weekly, depending on the matchup.

Plus, we don’t even know who the quarterback will be after the team dealt Sam Howell and are expected to choose between Drake Maye and Jayden Daniels on draft night.

The Wolf has Robinson slotted in at RB30 (-2 vs ECR), while Ekeler slides right behind him at RB32 (-2 vs ECR) on his 2024 Fantasy Rankings and Big Board.


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