Cam Akers’ dynasty value is one of the most challenging evaluations entering the 2022 season. After his miraculous return from a July Achilles tear, Akers immediately seized control of the Rams’ backfield, but he didn’t play all that well. How should dynasty fantasy football managers value Akers going forward?
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Cam Akers’ dynasty profile for 2022
I will be very upfront with all of you. I don’t have all the answers when it comes to Akers. Heading into the 2021 season, Akers was my top target to draft if I picked toward the back end of the first round in redraft leagues. It was devastating to find out about his offseason Achilles tear.
While Akers was out, Darrell Henderson Jr. looked like an RB1 for a couple of months. Then, it was Sony Michel. When Akers returned for the Rams‘ playoff run, the initial expectation was the team would ease him into things.
They sort of did. Akers averaged 16.75 carries and 2 targets per game over the Rams’ four playoff games.
Sean McVay has never really utilized a committee. Whether it was Todd Gurley, Malcolm Brown, Henderson, Michel, or Akers, the Rams use their RB1 in a three-down role. Make no mistake about it, that job belongs to Akers in 2022.
Fantasy projection for Akers
This is the $64,000 question. How effective will Akers be? Running backs returning from Achilles tears don’t have a great track record. However, none of them were ever as young and talented as Akers. Last season, D’Onta Foreman and Marlon Mack looked just fine. Both of them had previous Achilles tears.
Akers definitely looked nowhere near as explosive as he was as a rookie, but he was also just five months removed from the injury. With an entire offseason to heal, Akers should be able to reach 90-95% of his pre-injury ability. By the time the season starts, Akers will have had nearly 14 months to recover.
Akers averaged just 9.4 PPR fantasy points per game as a rookie. He also barely played. It wasn’t until Week 13 that the Rams handed over the backfield to Akers. From Weeks 13-15, Akers averaged 15 ppg (he didn’t play Week 16 due to injury). It was only three games, but Akers flashed enough upside that once the Rams cut Gurley the following year, fantasy managers were confident Akers was going to take a massive step forward.
Can Akers still take that step forward in 2022? While I’m admittedly a bit concerned, I also know volume is king, and Akers will have plenty of it. Akers is going to be a three-down back in 2022. Of this, I am supremely confident. As a result, fantasy managers can be confident they’re getting at least a mid RB2 in the starting running back on one of the league’s best offenses.
What is his future beyond 2022?
Akers is just 23 years old with very little tread on his tires. For all intents and purposes, 2022 will be his second NFL season.
The Rams just extended Matthew Stafford following their Super Bowl win. They have their quarterback, WR1, WR2, and head coach locked in for the foreseeable future. Akers is going to have every opportunity to succeed.
What can fantasy managers expect from Akers?
If you have Akers on your dynasty roster in 2022, what you do with him is almost entirely dependent upon whether you believe he can be the guy he was supposed to be before tearing his Achilles. There will likely be someone in your dynasty league that likes Akers more than you. If you’re not a believer, you should be able to trade him for a nice return.
The thing with Akers is, if he can be the RB1 many thought he’d be, then he’s the type of player you should be looking to acquire. Had Akers not gotten hurt, he would probably be a consensus top-eight dynasty RB. There’s still an injury discount to be had.
The concern with Akers is if the lack of explosion we saw in the postseason carries over into next season, the Rams may look to replace him in 2023. Given how good Akers looked during that stretch as a rookie, combined with lesser talented players like Foreman and Mack proving an Achilles tear is not the death sentence it was made out to be, I’m cautiously optimistic about Akers’ long-term success.
Akers is going to enter 2022 as an RB2, but he has legitimate RB1 upside. If he fully recaptures his pre-injury form, a top-five season is within his range of outcomes. When it comes to dominating dynasty leagues, you’re not going to ascend the mountain by playing it safe. I lean more on the side of taking a shot on Akers. Once the 2022 season starts, his value is going to shift one way or the other.