One of the most intriguing dilemmas early in drafts this year is whether to select Chargers running back Austin Ekeler or Falcons rookie Bijan Robinson first. Both backs have immense talent but very different situations heading into 2023. Here’s a full breakdown comparing Ekeler and Robinson to help you decide who to draft first for your fantasy team this season.
Here is a comparison table of Austin Ekeler’s 2022 NFL stats versus Bijan Robinson’s 2022 college stats:
|Austin Ekeler (NFL)
|Bijan Robinson (NCAA)
- Ekeler had a very productive 2022 season for the Chargers, making his 5th straight Pro Bowl.
- As a rookie, Robinson put up huge numbers at Texas, winning the Doak Walker Award as the top RB in college football.
- Robinson bested Ekeler in rushing yards and touchdowns despite playing 5 fewer games.
- Ekeler was utilized heavily as a receiver, more than doubling Robinson’s catches and receiving yards.
- Both players found the end zone frequently and were focal points of their respective offenses.
- Robinson’s college production matches up very well with Ekeler’s output in the NFL. This illustrates Robinson’s elite talent and helps explain why he was drafted so high.
So in summary, Ekeler maintained his status as a top fantasy asset while Robinson emerged as a star running back for Texas in his final college season. It will be exciting to see Robinson transition his skills to the next level.
Here is a comparison table of projected 2023 stats for Austin Ekeler and Bijan Robinson:
- Ekeler is projected for more receptions and receiving production given his proven track record and role in the Chargers’ passing offense.
- Robinson has higher projected rushing totals as the lead back in a run-heavy Falcons offense.
- Both backs are expected to be focal points of their respective offenses and see a high volume of touches.
- Ekeler likely has the safer floor due to his pass catching, while Robinson offers higher ceiling thanks to his rushing workload and playmaking ability.
The projections illustrate Ekeler’s PPR advantage over Robinson, but both backs have potential to finish as RB1s this season if they meet expectations. Use these 2023 stats as a guide, but also monitor training camp battles and preseason usage before cementing your draft strategy.
Also read: After Eleker and Robinson, start thinking about your 2nd round RB2 pick.
Ekeler’s Track Record of Production
Back-to-Back RB1 Seasons
Ekeler is coming off monster 2021 and 2022 seasons. His receiving upside at the running back position is immense. Ekeler has caught at least 50 passes in 4 straight seasons and had over 90 receptions in 2019 and 2021.
Reliable Scoring Threat
Ekeler has a nose for the end zone. He has scored 34 career rushing touchdowns (25 in last 2 seasons alone) and has 29 career receiving scores. Ekeler had 18 total touchdowns last season, tied for most in the NFL. At 27 years old, he is still in the prime of his career with less wear-and-tear than most backs his age.
Key Cog in Potent Offense
The Chargers boast a dynamic offense that should give Ekeler plenty of scoring chances. WRs Keenan Allen and Mike Williams along with TE Gerald Everett give Ekeler a loaded supporting cast. Ekeler is locked in as the lead back after the Chargers did not add any significant competition this offseason.
Robinson’s Immense Potential
Elite NFL Prospect
Robinson enters the NFL as one of the most hyped RB prospects in recent memory. He averaged over 5.8 yards per carry during his 3 seasons at Texas. The Falcons selected him with the 8th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the highest drafted RB since Saquon Barkley in 2018.
Robinson possesses a rare blend of power, speed, agility, and pass-catching ability. He racked up over 1,500 rushing yards in 2022 and added 19 receptions. Robinson can make plays on the ground or as a receiver.
Perfect Fit for Run-Heavy Offense
Falcons HC Arthur Smith loves to pound the rock. Atlanta led the NFL in rush attempts last season and their offense is built around the running game. Robinson will take over as the lead back in an offense that lost Cordarrelle Patterson to injury last year.
Also Read: You might want to pick WR1 as your 1st round pick in this pass happy league.
The Bottom Line
While Bijan Robinson’s long-term potential is incredibly exciting, Austin Ekeler is the safer pick for 2023 fantasy drafts given his proven production. Ekeler is a sure-fire RB1 once again this year while Robinson has sky-high upside but some risk as a rookie.
Draft Ekeler first in all formats, but don’t let Robinson slip too far in drafts. His projected heavy workload and playmaking ability give him league-winning potential if he transitions smoothly to the NFL. Some might also consider picking CMC as RB1.