With a playoff spot clinched, is Austin looking for some rest to close out the regular season? | Ekeler’s Edge

Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler and Yahoo Sports’ Fantasy Analyst Matt Harmon discuss the Chargers Monday night victory over the Colts, and their first playoff berth since 2018. Will it earn Austin some well earned time to get his body right prior to the playoffs, or will he continue to grind away as the Bolts end the season against the Rams and Broncos? Catch fresh episodes of Ekeler’s Edge every Wednesday on Yahoo Sports and your favorite social media platforms. Listen to Ekeler’s Edge on the Yahoo Fantasy Football Forecast wherever you get podcasts.

Video Transcript


MATT HARMON: Working on things or getting your body rested up? Which one would you rather pick to end the season here?

AUSTIN EKELER: For me personally, I mean, I want to continue to play. I want to get all 17 games in. If anyone's going to hold me back, it's going to have to be my coaches because I'm going.


MATT HARMON: Chargers 20, Colts 3. I will admit to you, Austin. During the game, I even tweeted out like, man, I can't wait to see how the Chargers win this game 13 to 10 because you know I've paid attention all year long to the Chargers season. So I was like, oh, I can't wait to see how they make this one close. But in the end, our boy Austin, the only player to score any touchdown in the game. You got two of them. That was great to see.

And of course, like you mentioned, Chargers clinch a playoff spot for the first time in Justin Herbert's career. You've played in the playoffs before in 2018, Philip Rivers, you and Melvin Gordon were splitting carries back then. Our guy Antonio Gates was playing tight end in that game as well. Give us the State of the Union on this game and how you're feeling right now.

AUSTIN EKELER: Well, I mean, just coming out of the game, offensively, we got to play way better. Our consistency was all over the place. If we're going to try to make the run we want to make, we definitely got to tighten up our consistency. Defense though, oh my goodness. Playing lights out. I know it was a team that has a new quarterback, has a lot of things going on as far as injuries, Jonathan Taylor is out, some other guys. So but it's like, even then, for them to come out and not allow any third down conversions, our defense has been going crazy these past couple weeks.

I mean, you know the old saying, defense wins championships. Right? They can't score, they can't win. And so I'm excited about the caliber that they're playing.

MATT HARMON: Brandon Staley talked a ton about the toughness of this team. And I mean, I think that that makes a lot of sense considering the amount of injuries you guys have dealt with. And I know you're the last guy to come on here and make excuses about anything. So I'll say it. It just-- there were certain times during the year where it's like, how are they going to be able to weather this storm? I mean, they're missing not only a ton of guys, but some of their most important players.

I think it's a huge credit to you and the entire team, and like Staley said, the toughness of it. Where did you guys kind of find that within yourselves to push through when it was a ton of adversity to still make it to the postseason? It didn't look like how we thought it was at the beginning of the year. But you guys eventually got to the place where you wanted to be.

AUSTIN EKELER: You have Justin, man. He's one of those guys where like, remember when Tom Brady could have any receiver and just make it work? That's how I feel like Justin is. That guy is going to give you a chance. And then you got Corey who's up there. He's the chief of all the points, the calls, the protection, all of that. And then we're shuffling in Mike, and me, and Keenan, and Gerald. We have some guys that have been playing around for a few years.

And so I think that helps you, even though you might have some guys up or down, but you're going to find some consistency. And we've been able to find enough to get it done. And the same thing on defense as far as the type that where we have guys in key spots that are able to be consistent enough with their leadership mentality and actually keep a level of consistency that allows us to win games.

MATT HARMON: Well, you guys got two more games left. You've got the Rams next week, you got the Broncos in week 18. I'm sure there's going to be a conversation. There will definitely be a conversation on the outside, let me tell you that, about like, resting starters, now that you've clinched a playoff berth. Anything like that. What's your preference in terms of working on things or getting your body rested up? Which one would you rather pick to end the season here?

AUSTIN EKELER: It's tough. It's tough. Because both are important. Both are very important. When you make the playoffs, it's like, now your season is beginning. So you want to have all your guys as fresh as possible. But at the same time, we have two games left. And so we can't just not go out there and play. Someone has got to go out there and play the game. It's a weird kind of scenario.

For me personally, I mean, I want to continue to play. I want to get all 17 games in. And I think if you ask any of the other players, they want to go out there and play too. I don't think-- I feel like the coaches would have to make that decision for us. We're going to go out there and play. We signed up for 17. We want to go out there ball out for 17. That's-- maybe that's just me personally. I want to go out there and get all my 17 games in.

It helps me, my career, statistics, all that, the comparables. And if anyone's going to hold me back, it's going to be my coaches because I'm going. So that's my mentality.