By Alex Kurpeski
When the Rams selected former Florida State standout Cam Akers in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft, many fantasy managers saw this as the beginning of the end for 2019 draft pick Darrell Henderson. What’s happened since has been the complete opposite. Henderson, who struggled to gain the trust of LA’s coaching staff in 2019, has been the unquestioned lead back for the majority of this season, while Akers has been relegated to a third-string role. But what does this mean for Akers’ long-term value?
For many fantasy managers, Akers was a top-ten pick in rookie drafts. Heading into the 2020 draft, Akers was a highly-touted prospect from Florida State, a former five-star recruit who had managed to shine despite running behind the worst offensive line in the nation.
A gifted pass-catching back as well, Akers had “three-down back” written all over him. With no glaring injury concerns either, Akers seemed like an ideal buy-low candidate for a team in need of some reinforcement in the backfield. PlayerProfiler outlines Akers’ measurables and workout metrics, placing him in the upper percentiles for speed and burst.
While Akers has dealt with some rib injury issues this season, he’s also been underwhelming on the field. Akers has averaged only 4.0 YPC on 50 rushing attempts this season, falling deeper down the depth chart behind Henderson and Malcolm Brown every week.
Though we saw Darrell Henderson emerge as a viable fantasy producer in his second season, this occurred as a result of both a shortened offseason and the departure of Todd Gurley. The same set of circumstances is unlikely for Akers for those hoping to see him break out in 2021. As much as I believe in Akers’ talent, his absolute best outlook is as a committee back alongside Henderson and Brown. An extremely elusive back with a great change of direction and “shake”, Akers seems to be stuck in a bad fantasy situation for the foreseeable future.
Cam Akers SZN 🎞 pic.twitter.com/41pCi9n4wk
— 𝓘𝓾𝓲𝓬𝓮 (@LArams4L) November 21, 2020
Akers’ quiet rookie season has been all the more disappointing due to the emergence of fellow draft classmates Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Antonio Gibson, James Robinson, and D’Andre Swift as fantasy studs. Burdened by the presence of Henderson, an equally dynamic young back, it seems as though Akers is a victim of circumstance once more. At this stage, the best we can hope for Akers in 2020 is that he takes over Malcolm Brown’s role as the No. 2 back in Los Angeles’ rotation — a feat that will be easier said than done given the relationship between Brown and his coaching staff.