Every new fantasy year begins with a few players who had just turned on their jets at the end of the NFL season. They usually garner a ton of hype and high ADPs over the offseason, but it’s always a gamble on whether or not that will carry over. One such example of that is Rams’ rookie RB Cam Akers. Akers was your typical hyped-up rookie back who disappointed fantasy owners at first…but if you held on long enough, you were rewarded with solid play. Let’s take a deeper dive into the past and future of Cam Akers.
The Rams had a confusing backfield for the entirety of 2020. At first you had no idea who would be the starter. The Rams had Malcolm Brown and 2nd-year bruiser Darrell Henderson already vying for carries and then added Cam Akers in the 2nd round of the NFL draft. It was a toss-up on who would start, and Malcolm Brown owners thought they chose right when he was given a majority of the carries in week 1 (79 yards and 2 touchdowns). Meanwhile Henderson saw 3 carries and Akers got a solid 14 (for 39 yards). The next week was completely different. This time Henderson saw the bulk of the carries (81 yards and 1 touchdown) while Akers barely touched the ball at all.
This guessing game continued throughout the early part of the season, with Henderson quickly taking a stranglehold on the top spot. Akers missed 2 games due to a rib injury, and then had 2 games in which he didn’t touch the ball.
Week 12 was finally when holding Akers paid off. Akers carried the ball 21 times for 72 yards and 1 touchdown against Arizona. He followed that up with a 29 carry, 171-yard performance against New England. He finished the season with 625 yards and 2 touchdowns (not bad for missing 5 games).
In the playoffs, Akers rushed 28 times for 131 yards and 1 touchdown in their win over the Seahawks and followed that up with 18 carries for 90 yards and 1 touchdown in their loss to the Packers.
Not much to say here except Malcolm Brown left the Rams and signed with the Dolphins, opening the door up for more carries for both Akers and Henderson. Behind them are Xavier Jones and Raymond Calais, who probably won’t see the field too often.
The Rams also made a massive change at QB, trading for Matthew Stafford. Now I’d much rather have Stafford over Jared Goff, but it remains to be seen what Stafford will do on a new team.
So far experts seem to be sleeping on Akers, saying that he is outside of the top 32 RBs (on some lists). But mock drafts on fantasyfootballcalculator.com are showing him as an early 2nd round pick (11th RB off the board). Seems like some of you aren’t sleeping on him at all.
Now draft capital always comes into play, and a 2.02 ADP seems a tad bit high for my tastes, but you never really know what can happen with these types of players. Henderson is still there and will still get carries, although Akers should get a bulk of the work early on in the season. If he can continue his rampage from the end of 2020, Akers will be one of the top backs in fantasy.
Another thing to consider is Matt Stafford’s talent. It easily passes Goff’s, and how that can affect the run game. The Rams still have their big two receivers in Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp, as well as youngster Van Jefferson, so Stafford has talent to throw to. That said Sean McVeigh hasn’t shied away from the run game yet, so Akers should still get plenty of work.
Akers has a good shot at hitting 1000 yards this season, as long as he doesn’t let go of the top spot. If he falters early, Henderson could eat into his workload. Overall Akers is a solid player who has the talent to be a heavily used running back, although we don’t have a lot of data points yet to determine whether or not he will be a top fantasy player.
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