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Gronk shows us why he’s special, and all in on fantasy football | Ekeler’s Edge

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Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler and Yahoo Sports’ Fantasy Expert Liz Loza breakdown the running back matchup, between fantasy RB2 Austin Ekeler and RB3 Joe Mixon of the Cincinnati Bengals. Will 3 fantasy stars from week 12 be able to repeat their performance against stiffer competition? Liz and Austin make their call in a game of Hit or Miss. And future Hall of Famer, the Buccaneers’ Rob Gronkowski joins the show to talk about his former fantasy team, fans offering to share their winnings, and his increased notoriety due to his popular USAA commercials. Rob Gronkowski teamed up with USAA, Official NFL Salute to Service Partner, to honor the USO and the Gronk Nation Youth Foundation on his cleats for this year’s NFL My Cause My Cleats campaign.

Video Transcript

ROB GRONKOWSKI: Yo, you wanna know what's funny? Every game, I go out the tunnel, home game or away game, people are yelling at me, "You're special, Gronk! You're special! We all know you are!"

[LAUGHTER]

[INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC PLAYING]

LIZ LOZA: What is up, everyone? Welcome to "Ekeler's Edge." I'm Liz Loza, and this is, of course, Chargers running back, fantasy superstar, and esteemed holiday decorator Austin Ekeler.

AUSTIN EKELER: I don't know that one came from. But welcome back, everyone. Excited for another episode, and let's get going.

LIZ LOZA: We have got a great show for you. We'll preview the big time running back showdown between the Chargers and the Bengals in Cincinnati. We'll debate whether three fantasy stars from Week 12 will hit or miss in Week 13. And future Hall of Famer Rob Gronkowski joins the show.

[ELECTRICITY ZAPPING]

LIZ LOZA: All right, Austin, your Chargers dropped one in Denver. However, you hit 99 total yards and grabbed a 12-yard touchdown reception to make your fantasy managers very happy.

AUSTIN EKELER: Yeah. Yeah, good day for the fantasy owners, including myself on my fantasy team, but not a good day for the Chargers. Just weren't consistent enough. I talk about it all the time. And that's what it comes down to in the NFL, who plays at a higher level than the other team, and the Broncos definitely showed up, and, you know, shout out to them for, you know, outplaying us that day.

LIZ LOZA: Your Chargers are currently a wild card team in the AFC, as are your opponents for Week 13, the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals are 7-4, following decisive wins over the Raiders and the Steelers.

AUSTIN EKELER: It's a big matchup for us, right? As you said, we're in a wild card spot right now, so to kind of secure our playoff picture moving forward, we've gotta get this one. This is a big game for us.

LIZ LOZA: We have to talk about the running backs in this one. You are currently fantasy's RB2 on the season, while the Bengals' Joe Mixon is the RB3 overall.

AUSTIN EKELER: Joe Mixon, he's been carrying that thing over there. They've been feeding him, and he's been, you know, making plays with it. And, obviously, with the Chargers, I'm getting my touches too, whether it's in the pass game or in the run game, which is why, you know, I feel like I'm just a little bit above as far as desirability in fantasy. But that's why we look forward to it, and that's why I'm excited to see this matchup go down.

LIZ LOZA: Let's dig into some numbers, because the total numbers are very close. You've obviously done more of your damage catching the ball than Mixon has. You have one more total touchdown and about 15 more fantasy points, and not that I'm biased, but you've been much more efficient with your opportunites.

AUSTIN EKELER: Hey, I think that's just the dynamic of, you know, how I'm implemented into the offense. Joe Mixon is a bigger guy. You know, they rely on him more as, like, a traditional running back, getting 20 plus carries, stuff like that, you know? I'm not getting 20 plus carries, I'll tell you that right now. I might get 20 touches, you know, and that would be a high side for me. But as far as my efficiency comes in, look, I have a limited amount of touches I know that I'm going to be getting, and I have to make sure, every time I have the ball in my hands, I'm trying to make something happen.

LIZ LOZA: I want to show you how Yahoo Sports fantasy expert Matt Harmon sees your Sunday in Cincinnati going.

MATT HARMON: I think you're looking at yet another really strong total yardage outing, a really strong day through the air, and even on the ground as well, for Austin Ekeler here in Week 13. I'm fearlessly forecasting 125 total yards and 9 catches.

AUSTIN EKELER: Sheesh!

[LAUGHTER]

LIZ LOZA: How do you feel about that, friend?

AUSTIN EKELER: Sheesh! Nine catches, huh?

LIZ LOZA: Are you gonna go over or under Matt's projection here?

AUSTIN EKELER: Is it over or under 125? Oh my gosh! That's a good one! That's a good forecast! I'm gonna say push. I'm gonna say I'm gonna be hopefully within, like, 5, 10 yards of that on either side.

LIZ LOZA: OK. All right. All right, now I want to show you Matt's fearless forecast for Joe Mixon.

MATT HARMON: We are once again firing up Joe Mixon with very high expectations. I'm fearlessly forecasting 121 total yards, two catches, and a touchdown.

LIZ LOZA: So, Austin, are you gonna take the over or the under?

AUSTIN EKELER: I'm taking the under, because I'm saying our defense is gonna step up and make some tackles this week, and I'm hoping, you know, we can keep them off the field as well with our time of possession by us scoring points. And so it's complementary, right? So I'm gonna take the under. I'll take the under. But, you know, I think he's still gonna get his own. He's definitely gonna do his thing, right? He's still a great player, and great players find a way to make plays. But it's gonna to be a good matchup, like I said.

[ELECTRICITY ZAPPING]

LIZ LOZA: This week, we're gonna play a little game of "Hit or Miss." Let's begin with our old friend, the Anaconda. Cordarrelle Patterson touched the ball 18 times for 135 total yards and two rushing scores at Jacksonville. This Sunday, however, he'll face the Bucs' top-rated run defense. So will he hit and squeeze out some fantasy points for managers, or will he miss in a tough matchup?

AUSTIN EKELER: So, I actually went hit on this, and here's why. It's because they're gonna give him the ball. They're gonna force him, whether he's gotta have five, six, seven catches in the game, or he's gotta run the ball, you know, 16, 17 times, they're gonna be like, hey, Cordarrelle, you've gotta go make plays for us, because you're one of our best playmakers on this team, if not the best. He's going against the Bucs, but he's gonna get his touches, and he's gonna make some plays and get some yardage, and I think he's gonna hit this week.

LIZ LOZA: I agree with you. Cordarrelle Patterson is the engine of the Falcons' offense. Whether it's on the ground or through the air, he is getting all kinds of touches, all kinds of places. If the Bucs want to shut him down on the ground, no problem. We know how many injuries they have in their secondary. He can get it done through the air, so I think that's where you're gonna see him pop, and he is indeed gonna hit.

Speaking of getting it done through the air, Kendrick Bourne found his identity in Week 12, hauling in five balls for 61 yards and two touchdowns. But this Monday, he'll go up against a Bills squad that's allowed just three scores to the position all year. So can he hit, or will he miss?

AUSTIN EKELER: Shoutout to the Bills' secondary for, yeah, holding those receivers down! Man! But I think, you know, Kendrick Bourne, he's gonna face some of that, right? The Patriots are trying to get this man the ball. He's been dynamic with the ball, especially these last couple of weeks. I'm gonna say hit. If they're actually gonna win this game, Kendrick Bourne is gonna have to make the plays that he's been making, making people miss, running down the sideline and getting into the end zone.

LIZ LOZA: I agree with you. I think he's gonna hit as well. You mentioned how, over the past couple of weeks, he's really emerged as a playmaker for the Patriots. He's averaged over 10 yards per reception in back to back weeks. He now has three receiving scores over his last three weeks. And here's a key thing. The Bills lost Tre'Davious White, one of the best cornerbacks in the entire league, to an ACL tear on Thanksgiving. They are going to be down one of their biggest defensive stars, and I think that should open things up, or certainly make it easier for Bourne to find the end zone again in Week 13.

The Bills clearly missed Dawson Knox while he was out with a hand injury. His two-touchdown effort on Thanksgiving is a major reason why. He's actually the scoring leader among all tight ends with seven touchdowns on the season. Do you think Knox can hit again on Monday night, or will he miss versus a Patriots defense that's allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends?

AUSTIN EKELER: I think Dawson's gonna have a hard time, just because I know how the Patriots play. Everyone already knows, you know, the Patriots are gonna double two people down in the red zone, and he's gonna be one of them, because he's their red zone threat. I don't think he's gonna get in the end zone, and so, for that reason, I think it's gonna be a miss.

LIZ LOZA: The Patriots have to be taken seriously. They have ripped off six wins in a row. Their defense is doing a lot of the heavy lifting. Is he finding the end zone against this Patriots defense? No way. I think he misses in Week 13.

[ELECTRICITY ZAPPING]

LIZ LOZA: We are extremely excited to be joined by four-time Super Bowl champion, Tampa Bay Bucs tight end and fantasy football deity, Rob Gronkowski. Thanks so much for joining us, Rob.

ROB GRONKOWSKI: Yeah, thanks for having me, guys.

AUSTIN EKELER: Yeah. Heck yeah, man. I'm just curious if you've ever, you know, paid attention to the fantasy community, or had your own team, or anything like that?

ROB GRONKOWSKI: Oh, of course, man. I've known about fantasy football since, like, you know, my freshman year in college. That's when I was really introduced to it. After, like, two weeks of doing fantasy football, I actually, like, stopped setting my roster. I kept forgetting to, you know, switch out players. And I was, like, shaking my head every week. So, obviously, I lost, but I was starting guys that were on bye weeks. It was too much. So I actually haven't played since, but I'm all about fantasy football. I think it's great for the league. I think it's great for the fans. I mean, I think it's just a great way to bring, you know, people that love football, and bring them together.

AUSTIN EKELER: Yeah. I 100% agree. That's how this show came into existence, man. You might not have a team, but I know you're making an impact on a lot of teams out there. You know, I know Liz actually just found out she has you on one of her teams, so that's what's up.

ROB GRONKOWSKI: Oh, Liz, so, like, when I'm playing, like, obviously, I was just hurt for a couple of weeks, but, you know, when I'm in that roster you've gotta be a little happy, Liz! Come on!

[LAUGHTER]

LIZ LOZA: Rob, 123 yards last week! Hello! Shootout against Indianapolis! You guys won! Of course, I was thrilled! What was the name of your fantasy team back in college when you started your fantasy journey?

ROB GRONKOWSKI: Oh, all right. Well, I actually don't remember. But let me tell you, I was in college, I was a freshman, I was, like, 19, 18 years old, it would probably be not even appropriate enough to even say my fantasy team name. I can probably guarantee that. You know, at that age, I'm glad there was really no social media yet when I was, you know, a freshman in college.

[LAUGHTER]

LIZ LOZA: What about any crazy stories or interactions with fantasy fans?

ROB GRONKOWSKI: Oh, obviously, when you see people out on the streets, or in the store or something, you know, people come up to you, like, you know, yo, I had you on fantasy, man! You killed it for me this year! Like, you won me $300! And my favorite thing is to be like, man, well, then where's my share? Where's my cut? And I've actually had a few times where people take out their wallet and they give me, like, $100 on the spot. And I'm just like, man, I'm just messing with you. Here, take your money back.

AUSTIN EKELER: For me, it actually goes even deeper. People, for whatever reason, are, like, Venmoing people. They'll, like, request a Venmo request if I have, like, a bad game or something like that. I'm like, y'all need to chill out.

[LAUGHTER]

ROB GRONKOWSKI: Oh, dude!

AUSTIN EKELER: That one's the worst. If you don't play well, oh, no, they are on your head!

ROB GRONKOWSKI: Oh, let me tell you, if you're playing well, you are a fantasy hero. But let me tell you, if you don't put up points that week, don't check your social media, don't check your Venmo, because you're right, they hit you up with a Venmo, like, yo, you owe me, like, 20 bucks this week.

LIZ LOZA: Can you tell us what you're doing with USAA, the USO, and your Gronk Nation Youth Foundation for this year's My Cause My Cleats campaign?

ROB GRONKOWSKI: Of course, I can. You know, I've got size 16 cleats, you know, big cleats, a lot of room to write some messages, you know what I mean? So I got the USO on the one side of my cleats, on the left cleat. Then, on the right cleat, I've got the Gronk Nation Youth Foundation. So this year is special, because, you know, I'm raising awareness to two causes. One supports military families, the USO, and they do a great, great, great job with everything. And the other is the Gronk Nation Youth Foundation, which supports kids and gives them the chance to succeed, you know, with the proper equipment to play sports.

AUSTIN EKELER: That's much respect, man. I respect that, because it takes people to care about people, and we're in a position where we can help out with our resources, and so I appreciate you doing that. Man, if I could help people, right, get on the same path, or just trying to find a passion and get started, you know, that just means the world to me. And so, yeah, it takes people like yourself, man. I appreciate you coming on the show. I don't know if you've figured out a way to get USAA insurance yet--

ROB GRONKOWSKI: No.

AUSTIN EKELER: But keep working on it.

[LAUGHTER]

ROB GRONKOWSKI: Yo, Austin, I keep telling them, man, I'm special. Like, I'm special. Just give me the insurance!

AUSTIN EKELER: Oh, man! That cracks me up!

- Mr. Gronkowski, USAA is for the military community and their families. That's what makes us special.

ROB GRONKOWSKI: Oh, but I'm special!

Yo, you wanna know what's funny? Every game, I go out the tunnel, home game or away game, people are yelling at me, "You're special, Gronk! You're special! We all know you are!"

[LAUGHTER]

And I just crack up laughing every time!

AUSTIN EKELER: Oh, man! It's great, man! Great! I love your personality, man. Keep being yourself, and I appreciate you being on here, man.

ROB GRONKOWSKI: Yeah, no problem, Austin. Thanks for having me, man.

LIZ LOZA: Rob Gronkowski on "Ekeler's Edge!" Man, that was fun!

AUSTIN EKELER: Yes. You know, Rob, always a great personality. I'm glad he came on the show, talked some fantasy, talked some life. And to those of you guys that are watching, I appreciate you also coming to the show. And good luck in your matchup this week, especially if you have me on your team, and we'll see you next week.

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