Cam Akers Fantasy Dominoes of Season-Ending Achilles Injury
Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Rams RB Cam Akers.
Editor’s note: Cam Akers tore his Achilles on July 20, with a week to go before the Rams’ training camp. Here’s what his injury means for fantasy football — specifically Darrell Henderson’s outlook.
Cam Akers Fantasy Rankings
|Consensus rankings via Sean Koerner and Chris Raybon are based on half PPR scoring and as of early June.|
The Rams’ tripartite running back committee was a massive headache for fantasy football managers in 2020. We pulled their hair out each week as head coach Sean McVay seemingly chose either Cam Akers, Darrell Henderson or Malcolm Brown at random to receive the lion’s share of the workload.
In spite of last year’s messy backfield, Akers ended the season strong and enters 2021 in a position of strength with the potential to finish as a top-12 running back.
Akers’ 2020 Season
- Games played: 13
- Rushing: 145 attempts, 625 yards, 2 TDs
- Receiving: 14 targets, 11 catches, 123 yards, 1 TD
- Fantasy finishes: RB50 in PPR, RB45 in standard, RB49 in half PPR
Akers is a former high school All-American and five-star recruit who attended Florida State for three seasons. He was selected by the Rams in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft to fill the void left by Todd Gurley, who had been released a month earlier. He was the draft’s fourth running back off the board at No. 52 overall behind the Chiefs’ Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Lions’ D’Andre Swift and Colts’ Jonathan Taylor.
In his rookie debut against Dallas, Akers received an impressive 15 touches, though he was only able to convert those opportunities into 43 yards (no touchdowns). He received just three touches total in Week 2 and 10 or fewer in his each of his next five appearances while dealing with a separated rib cartilage that limited his playing time.
Akers rounded out the season strong, averaging 22 attempts for 93.5 rushing yards per game in his final six appearances including the playoffs. His rookie campaign ended with 145 rushing attempts for 625 yards and two touchdowns. He also reeled in 11 passes on 14 targets for 123 yards and one touchdown over 13 appearances — good enough to finish as RB49 in half PPR scoring.
He was the Rams’ top rusher while sharing touches all season with Henderson, who finished with 154 touches for 783 scrimmage yards and six touchdowns, and Brown, who finished with 124 touches for 581 scrimmage yards and five touchdowns. The committee combined for 384 attempts for 1,668 yards and 12 touchdowns and 50 catches on 71 targets for 444 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
Among the 2020 rookie running backs, Akers ranked sixth in fantasy points behind James Robinson, Jonathan Taylor, Antonio Gibson, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, D’Andre Swift and J.K. Dobbins.
Akers’ 2021 Fantasy Outlook
In spite of his less-than-ideal rookie campaign, Akers actually has one of the best situations heading into 2021, and the legitimate potential to finish ahead of all the aforementioned backs.
The primary factor bolstering Akers’ value is the departure of Brown, who signed a one-year deal with the Dolphins during free agency. One fewer mouth to feed in this backfield will inevitably mean more touches for the sophomore. Akers and Henderson (who saw a decline in touches toward the end of 2020) will have some division of labor, but Akers’ late-season push would suggest that he’ll enter the year as the Rams’ preferred rusher.
The entire offense will also benefit from an upgrade at quarterback. After finishing 23rd in points per game during the regular season and an anemic showing in the playoffs, the team dealt 2016 first overall pick Jared Goff, two first-round picks and a third-round pick in exchange for two-time Pro Bowler Matthew Stafford.
One concern heading into 2021 is Akers’ lack of involvement in the passing game last year. He saw 14 targets all season to Brown’s 33 and Henderson’s 24 and ranked slightly lower in point-per-reception formats.
McVay wants to change that heading into Year 2, though, and sang high praise about Akers’ pass-catching abilities.
“[Akers is] obviously a great runner, but he’s got ability as a pass-catcher coming from the backfield, and we can displace him and put him in the slot or the outside receiver location,” McVay said, via Kevin Modesti of the LA Daily News. “There’s not any limitations, but we’ll see how it comes to life.”
If his involvement stays stagnant, however, Akers would be less valuable in PPR and half PPR.
How to Draft Cam Akers
The Rams’ running back committee was a nightmare for fantasy football managers in 2020 — enough to deter some from the situation entirely.
Drafting any Rams running back carries some inherent risk (McVay hates your fantasy team), but there are multiple signs pointing toward a year-over-year positive leap for Akers: He’ll have a new (and better) quarterback, less competition and will hopefully build on his late-season momentum.
Akers is currently being drafted as a low-end RB1, which feels appropriate in light of his situation and upside.