In our free agent preview that ran Feb. 29, I said the ideal fit for Austin Ekeler would be if he signed in Washington. That will become a reality after Ekeler agreed to a two-year, $11.4 million deal Monday.

Ekeler, who turns 29 in May, will join Brian Robinson Jr. in the Commanders backfield. Ekeler will replace Antonio Gibson, who agreed to a three-year, $11.3 million deal with New England.

In Washington, Ekeler should be considered a No. 2 Fantasy running back, and the earliest he should be drafted is Round 5 in the majority of leagues. He's coming off a down season in 2023 with the Chargers, and it's hard to expect Ekeler to rebound now that he's sharing work with Robinson.

Ekeler went from averaging more than 20.5 PPR points per game in each of the previous two seasons -- and no worse than 15.6 PPR points per game since 2019 -- to just 12.1 PPR points in 2023 in 14 games. At this point in his career, he's probably best suited to be a third-down back and work in the passing game, where he could still be dominant. 

Signing with the Commanders makes sense for Ekeler since Anthony Lynn just became the running backs coach in Washington, and Lynn was the head coach for the Chargers (2017-20) when Ekeler started to turn heads. In 2019, Ekeler had 92 catches for 993 yards and eight touchdowns on 108 targets, and he should be a good complement for Robinson.  

We still have questions in Washington, notably who will play quarterback for the Commanders, and they have the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL Draft. But new offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury and Lynn should lean on Ekeler quite a bit.

As for Robinson, I wouldn't be surprised if he led Washington in carries and rushing yards. He's coming off a productive season in 2023 where he averaged 12.5 PPR points per game, and he had 178 carries for 733 yards and five touchdowns, as well as 36 catches for 368 yards and four touchdowns on 43 targets.

Robinson can still be a quality flex option even with Ekeler on the roster, and I would draft Robinson as early as Round 7 in the majority of leagues. He loses value with Ekeler in Washington, but Robinson at 24 and in his third season in the NFL could prove to be the best running back for the Commanders -- and Fantasy managers -- this year.

Patriots add another RB

In New England, Gibson becomes the complementary option to Rhamondre Stevenson, and Gibson should be drafted with a late-round pick in the majority of leagues. In 2023, Gibson had 65 carries for 265 yards and one touchdown, along with 48 catches for 389 yards and two touchdowns on 59 targets.

Gibson will likely play on passing downs and be a change-of-pace option for Stevenson. I still like Stevenson as the No. 1 running back for the Patriots, and he's worth drafting as early as Round 6 in most formats.

Stevenson had a down season in 2023 at 11.3 PPR points per game (he averaged 13.8 PPR points per game in 2022), but he was starting to get going before injuring his ankle in Week 13. Before the injury, Stevenson scored at least 12 PPR points in five of his previous six games.

We'll see who plays quarterback for the Patriots this season under new coach Jerod Mayo, and Stevenson could end up as a tremendous value pick in what should be an improved offense. I'm still a believer in Stevenson as a quality Fantasy option in 2024.

Chargers get to work on replacing Ekeler

Finally, for the Chargers, they added Gus Edwards to help replace Ekeler. Edwards signed a two-year, $6.5 million deal Monday.

I expect Edwards to get company in Los Angeles since he's 29, but he's familiar with new Chargers offensive coordinator Greg Roman since the two were together in Baltimore. In 2023, Edwards led the Ravens with 198 carries for 810 yards and 13 touchdowns, and he added 12 catches for 180 yards. 

The Chargers want to be a run-heavy team, so Edwards could be a flex option depending on who else ends up in Los Angeles. But Edwards has a big opportunity in front of him with Ekeler now gone.