Making A Case For: Waiting on Cam Akers

April 8, 2021

In Dynasty League Football’s early-April ADP, which was released on Wednesday afternoon by Ryan McDowell, Los Angeles Rams running back Cam Akers was being selected between 7th and 8th overall. The same slot as Tennessee WR AJ Brown.

That’s only two spots ahead of his March ADP.

The only running backs being drafted ahead of Akers, Christian McCaffrey, Jonathan Taylor, Saquon Barkley, Dalvin Cook and Alvin Kamara.

These are a few of the running backs I am taking ahead of Akers this year.

Don’t be fooled by recency bias when drafting this offseason. In the Rams’ two playoff games, Akers ran the ball 46 times for 221 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He added three catches for 51 yards and a two-point conversion.

It’s his final three starts of the regular season, games against the Patriots, Jets and Cardinals that scare me away. Akers averaged just 13.4 fantasy points in those games. That includes Week 13’s game against the Patriots when he gained 194 yards from scrimmage.

Akers averaged 2.6 yards on 17 plays in goal-to-go situations, turning just two of them into touchdowns. He also fumbled one of those carries.

Akers saw just 14 targets in 2020. If I am investing a first-round pick on a running back, I prefer more work in the passing game.

Derrick Henry

Including the playoffs, Akers had just two games in which he rushed for more yards than Henry averaged last year.

It took 29 (171 yards) and 28 (131) carries to reach that point. In 13 games, Akers saw just 14 targets, just under half the amount of targets that Henry saw.

Henry makes up for his lack of work in the passing game by leading the league in rushing and reaching pay dirt more than any other player in the NFL.

I fully accept the fact that Akers is over five years Henry’s junior. In my opinion, even in dynasty startups, you are looking at a three-year window when drafting. I fully expect Henry to be better than Akers in his age 27 and age 28 seasons.

The next three seasons also includes six games against the Texans and Jaguars. Henry has five career 200-yard games against the pair.

Nick Chubb

Despite missing four games, Chubb took 45 carries 442 more yards than Akers did a season ago.

While Chubb is still locked into a timeshare with Kareem Hunt, it has affected him thus far. Chubb topped 100 yards in four of the six games that Hunt was active during the 2019 season. He followed that up with a second-straight 1,000-yard season in just 12 games this past year.

To compare the player goal to go stats, Chubb had 18 such carries in 2020, turning six of those into touchdowns.

Antonio Gibson

Akers draft classmate Antonio Gibson was the antithesis of Akers in terms of redzone carries. Gibson turned nearly half (7) of his 15 carries into touchdowns in 2020.

Gibson is likely to regress to the mean in terms of touchdowns finishing sixth amongst running backs in terms of touchdowns last season (11).

Ron Rivera has been known to say that he sees Gibson as a Christian McCaffrey-type player. That leads me to believe that Gibson will cut into JD McKissic’s 110 targets in 2021.

Austin Ekeler

Speaking of running back targets, Austin Ekeler is among the highest targeted running backs in the NFL. In 2019, as the feature back for the Chargers with Melvin Gordon III holding out, Ekeler saw over 100 targets from checkdown king Philip Rivers.

Ekeler saw 5.4 targets per game from Rivers, the number shot up to seven targets a game with Justin Herbert under center. That includes a pair of double-digit target games, before and after Ekeler’s injury.

Ekeler has at least 900 yards from scrimmage in each of the last three seasons, including 933 yards and three scores in just 10 games last season.

Ekeler is entering just his age 26 season and with his dominance in the passing game in Los Angeles, Ekeler should be drafted as an RB1 in dynasty leagues.

Miles Sanders

Sanders is another example of a player that did more with his opportunities than Cam Akers in 2020.

Akers played in one more game than Sanders, but touched the ball 36 fewer times.

Sanders averaged 5.45 yards per touch, toting the ball 164 times and catching 28 passes. Despite the coaching change, I expect Sanders, who gobbled up 52 targets last season to remain a major part of the passing game. 9-percent of Jalen Hurts’ 134 targets went Sanders’ way.

Sanders had similar issues in goal-to-go situation, turning just two of 12 carries into touchdowns. Sanders was however more effective in the redzone last season, toting the ball 24 times for 91 yards and four touchdowns inside the 20.

40-percent of Sanders carries came in the redzone. After playing a full season, that number is likely to go down, but his 24 rushing attempts and one target will certainly go up in a 17-game season.

Akers turned his 31 carries into just 2.5 yards per carry.

In conclusion

In my opinion, Akers is being overdrafted right now. These are just a couple of the running backs that I have ahead of him in my rankings, I also have enough WRs ahead of him that I can’t justify his 1.07 price tag.

I currently have Akers as my RB17 and he is RB14 in the composite For Fantasy Sake rankings.