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Yahoo Sports’ Fantasy Expert Liz Loza asks Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler if the his injured ankle has healed over the bye week. They preview the Chargers showdown with the Patriots, and if Austin and the Bolts are looking to bust some ghosts from last year’s 45-0 loss to New England. Keeping with the Halloween them Liz and Austin play a game of Fantasy Trick or Treat with three fantasy stars heading into week 8. The Bus, Jerome Bettis joins the show to explain why the fans turned him off from fantasy during his playing days. The Hall of Famer breaks down Steelers rookie running back Najee Harris, and Austin reveals that as a youngster he dominated a video game utilizing the power of the Bus. Jerome Bettis joined Ekeler’s Edge thanks to Quaker. To learn more about the Quaker Good Call Challenge, people can go to Quaker’s Instagram page or post to social using #QuakerGoodCall to encourage others to participate in the challenge.
I used to play a lot of NFL street with you. And I used to run everybody over and stiff arm everybody. I appreciate the childhood memories.
Hey, you know what? You make me feel so old. But I appreciate the fact that you chose the rock with 36.
LIZ LOZA: What is up, everyone. Welcome to Ekeler's Edge. I am Liz Loza. And this is, of course Chargers running back fantasy football superstar and fellow candy corn connoisseur Austin Ekeler.
AUSTIN EKELER: It is Halloween, got the Halloween game. So yeah, that was definitely appropriate. But yeah shout out to the candy corn fans out there.
LIZ LOZA: We have got a great show for you. We'll preview the Chargers week 8 showdown with the Patriots, play a game of fantasy trick or treat and take a bus ride with Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis. OK. Austin, let's start with the most pressing question for today's show. How's your ankle, did it heal up over the bye?
AUSTIN EKELER: Well, definitely taking a week off of full speed cutting and getting tackled always helps your body heal. We had to walk through a couple of days ago and ankle was feeling solid, feeling solid. It's not 100% but that's what I've learned about the NFL season is, you're basically never 100% ever since week 1. You just try to hold on to as much as you can as long as you can get on the field and run around and that's good enough. So we're good. We'll be out there.
LIZ LOZA: This week you welcome the three and four Patriots to SoFi. I don't really feel comfortable reminding you but it is kind of my job. Last season the Patriots beat the Chargers 45 to 0. What do you remember from that game? And here's what I want to know, sticking with the Halloween theme to the ghosts of a loss like that in your home stadium make this game a little more significant.
AUSTIN EKELER: Yeah. Ouch. I think that's the worst I've ever gotten beaten ever in my entire football career not even just NFL you said 45 to 0. We try to forget losses like that. We know Belichick. He's a guru over there. We've struggled two times I've played the Patriots, we've gotten destroyed so looking to turn it around this week. We got another opportunity. That's all you can ask for.
LIZ LOZA: Yeah, well, you're mentioning Belichick and what a guru he is. The Patriots are coming into this week with a little bit of momentum. They just beat the Jets 54 to 13 last Sunday and Bill Belichick is notorious for taking away a team's top weapon but here's the thing you're Chargers have so much talent on offense. There isn't a clear cut number 1. So I'm going to ask you, if you were to put on the hoodie, who would you try to take away from your offense?
AUSTIN EKELER: Put on the hoodie, the grand hoodie.
LIZ LOZA: Rip those sleeves off, friend.
AUSTIN EKELER: Right. It comes down to Keenan Allen. In our passing game, I think it comes back to number 13, especially the way they play defense. They play a lot of man coverage and you know what's Keenan good against. He's really good against one on one man. So I think he's going to be in double most of the game. And then when you get down in the red zone, they double to your guys. So I think they're going to be on Keenan and probably Mike Williams, two big threats.
But like you said, we have a lot of playmakers around. So hopefully that's an advantage for us and players that people like myself. Now I'm one on one, now I got to get open. I think we're going to propose a problem to a lot of teams we play, especially the teams that play man. But Keenan is definitely going to be getting double this week. He should be getting doubled every single week. So hopefully that's a transition for a big game for Austin in the fantasy week coming back off the bye.
LIZ LOZA: Yes. Let's put that out into the atmosphere. Let's manifest a giant game for Austin Ekeler 100%. I'm going to present to you a player and you tell me if you think his recent positive production is a trick, meaning it won't continue in week 8 or is it a treat and said player will produce again this week, sound good?
AUSTIN EKELER: I like it. Let's do it. I haven't been trick or treating in a while but this will count for my latest version of trick or treating.
LIZ LOZA: Let's start in the backfield with the defending Super Bowl champions Leonard Fournette leads the Bucs with 413 rushing yards and four touchdowns. All four of those scores have come in the last three weeks. He's added 27 receptions for 222 yards. This week the Bucs are at the Saints. So is it a trick or a treat for Leonard Fournette?
AUSTIN EKELER: Yeah. The Bucs are on a roll right now. They have been throwing the ball like crazy over there. And so if you're playing the Bucs what are you going to do? You're going to load up the box for the run, are you're going to try to stop Tom Brady from throwing it and dicing up your defense? And so I think people are trying to stop the pass so much that it's giving him a lot of opportunities to get some space maybe lighten it up the box over there, which he's been taken advantage of. So, yeah, I'm saying treat.
LIZ LOZA: All right. Well, I don't disagree that it's a treat. I will say that positive game script has really helped Leonard Fournette over those last three weeks. The match that he's faced have not been particularly tough. So obviously there's been a lot of opportunities to help Fournette. And this match-up against the Saints is not easy. The Saints have only allowed four rushing touchdowns so far this season. That being said, I completely agree with you. I'm not expecting a top five performance out of Fournette, but I'd still rank him as a top 15 to 18 fantasy back this week.
Moving along to the wide receiver position, let's talk about Michael Pittman. Pittman leads the Colts in receptions, targets and yards. And he scored both his touchdowns in the last three weeks. The Colts host the division leading Titans in week 8. So Austin, is Pittman a trick or treat?
AUSTIN EKELER: With Ty Hilton being out and he's getting more overload that's definitely been a reason why he's been getting more attention and actually having a little bit more success but I think that's also some foreshadowing of hey, this guy can actually be a receiver 1. He can have those consistent games, make some plays. It might not be as heavy with Ty being back, but I'm saying treat. I'm saying treat. I think he's going to hold on to a consistent play.
LIZ LOZA: Yeah. I am with you. I hear your concerns about volume with Ty Hilton back in the lineup but here's the thing they're playing the Titans. The Colts are actually only one point underdogs, which leads me to believe there's going to be a lot of back and forth. So any concerns about how many looks Pittman could draw should be minimized at least by the number of pass attempts between these two offenses. So I think for that reason, I am feeling pretty good about Pittman again. And I'm going to rank him in the top 25 wide receiver certainly within the top 30 for the week.
All right now. Let's talk tight ends and CJ Uzomah is one of the breakout stars of the surprise breakout team in the AFC, the Cincinnati Bengals. Uzomah has 17 receptions and 19 targets for 256 yards and five touchdowns. The Bengals are at the struggling Jets in week 8. So is CJ a trick or a treat?
AUSTIN EKELER: Yeah, man, I think the Bengals came out of nowhere just from anyone's expectations. There was some uncertainty. Joe Burrow coming off the injury. They are rolling and CJ has been a big part of that. The biggest thing that stands out to me is his efficiency as far as catching the ball and catching touchdowns and going into a match-up, like you said, is favorable for the Bengals. I think he's going to have another week to show why he can be a tight end one for you. So I'm going to go with treat.
LIZ LOZA: I'm just not sure in a match-up against the Jets if Joe Burrow is going to need to do that much, is he going to need to throw that many touchdowns. That being said, if he's in the red area and there's an easy score, then yeah I do think that TJ gets those six points. I would also say in this match-up as a sneaky start maybe Samaje Perine could really do some damage because I expect, like I said, the Bengals to be up quite a bit in this one over the Jets.
AUSTIN EKELER: So are you saying trick?
LIZ LOZA: I'm saying trick, I guess. Yes, I'm saying trick nicely, a nice trick. We are now extremely excited to be joined by Hall of Fame running back Jerome Bettis. Thank you so much for joining us, Bus. How are you?
JEROME BETTIS: I am great. Thanks for having me.
AUSTIN EKELER: Hey, appreciate it. Do people still call you Bus? Is that a common--
JEROME BETTIS: All the time.
AUSTIN EKELER: I love it
JEROME BETTIS: That's all I get
AUSTIN EKELER: The legend lives on.
LIZ LOZA: Well, then Bus, are you into fantasy football?
JEROME BETTIS: You know what? I'm not a big fantasy football fan because when I was playing our quarterback was Kordell Stewart. At the time, he was great at you jumping over the pile and so if it was first in goal or if it was on the goal line, he always just kind of did a quarterback sneak. And people used to get so pissed off when they had me because they're like you're supposed to be getting all these touchdowns. So I used to get really frustrated because my inbox, I got a ton of mail with people pissed off about me not getting the touchdown. So it kind of rubbed me the wrong way.
AUSTIN EKELER: That seems to be a common theme. It's like how do I deal with it because we still deal with that stuff today. That's still going on, man. But I've kind of embraced it as these people care about you so much that they literally took time out of the day to write your letter to say why you should be getting these goal line touchdown. So I mean, look at those. Those are some super fans right there. Even though they might come off as toxic, they really care about you and performing.
JEROME BETTIS: Yeah, but if you really cared, you wouldn't make me spend the time reading. You should let me get ready for the game so I could maybe get that touchdown, right?
AUSTIN EKELER: Right.
JEROME BETTIS: And then at the end of my career, I became the fantasy darling because I became the short yardage guy and I got all that stuff. So it went full circle for me.
LIZ LOZA: Jerome, you mentioned being a fantasy darling at the end of your career. Let's talk about Najee Harris because there are a lot of fantasy managers hoping he becomes a darling. What do you think of Najee's game and how good do you think he can be?
JEROME BETTIS: Well, I love his game. And I think he has the potential to be a superstar because he does everything well. And like Austin, he catches the ball out of the backfield. He's a pounder on the inside. He's got the speed to get outside. He's got the agility to jump over a guy and that's a rare to have all of those qualities at the size that he is. So I just think the sky's the limit for him.
AUSTIN EKELER: I used to play a lot of NFL street with you and I used to run everybody over and stiff arm everybody with you all the time back in the NFL Street, man. So yeah I appreciate the childhood memories.
JEROME BETTIS: Hey, you know what? You make me feel so old. But I get it. I am old. I try to hang on to my youth but you bring me back to reality, but I appreciate the fact that you chose to rock with 36 and Bus so thank you.
AUSTIN EKELER: You live on through memories right there, always legacy.
JEROME BETTIS: That's right.
LIZ LOZA: Jerome what are you doing with Quaker, can you tell us about it?
JEROME BETTIS: Well, a lot of people don't understand and don't really realize that 38 million people in America are facing hunger. And with the giving season right around the corner, Quaker is committed to donating $125,000 to Feeding America and we're asking others to make a good call for themselves by taking the Quaker Good Call Challenge and that is from now until December 31. And all we're asking people to do is find an empty canister and maybe a Quaker canister and turn it into a bank and collect spare change around your house.
And then if you could just take that change to your local Coinstar kiosk and select Feeding America that would go so far into helping raise the money that we need for the meals that will help support all the people in this country that are going without in this holiday season that's approaching. Everybody remember the Quaker Good Call Challenge is going to make a difference. Thank you guys.
AUSTIN EKELER: Appreciate you.
LIZ LOZA: Thank you, Jerome. Thanks for being here. I have to say that this show was an absolute treat from top to bottom. What about you?
AUSTIN EKELER: I would agree. I would agree. We got treats all over. We got the knowledge. We got legends in here. I'm coming back, feeling good, optimistic about this week coming in. So as far as fantasy goes right now, I hope you're feeling good about your team. I feel good about mine.
LIZ LOZA: Absolutely. That's going to do it for this edition of Ekeler's Edge. Be back here next week for more treats and forget the tricks.
AUSTIN EKELER: Happy Halloween everyone. Stay safe out there.