When the Los Angeles Rams finally had their first pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, they took running back Cam Akers at number 52 overall. But just what is Akers’ dynasty value going into 2020?
It wasn’t long ago that the Rams had one of the most consistent running games in the NFL, and Todd Gurley was in the MVP discussion. Well, a lot has changed. Quarterback Jared Goff cashed in on a career year to become one of the highest-paid players in history, and after an underwhelming 2019 season, the Rams began shifting players to ease their salary cap concerns. Gurley was one of the big dominoes that fell, quickly finding his way to the Atlanta Falcons as the likely starter. But the Rams still have one of the top offensive minds in the league in Sean McVay, making it a favorable landing spot for fantasy production.[sv slug=mocksim]
Cam Akers dynasty value following 2020 NFL Draft
Who is Cam Akers?
Akers was a five-star recruit who was one of the few bright spots at Florida State University as the program went through a disappointing three years. He broke Dalvin Cook’s freshman rushing record before joining Cook and Warrick Dunn as the only three players in FSU history to rush for 1,000 yards in multiple seasons.
While the stats are impressive, perhaps even more so is that Akers was able to put them up behind FSU’s “offensive line.” The quotation marks are deliberate because anybody who watched Akers will have seen him routinely hit in the backfield. The run blocking couldn’t have been much worse, and yet he still showed enough that the Rams were happy to make him the fourth RB drafted.
Will Akers be the starting RB?
The fact that the Rams took Akers with their first pick is a very encouraging sign for his dynasty value, both in 2020 and beyond, given the needs that they had elsewhere. And there’s certainly an opportunity, with the 254 touches that Gurley had last season now up for grabs.
It may not be that easy, though. Two players are standing in the way – Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown.
The Rams traded up in the 2019 NFL Draft to select Henderson. His opportunities were limited as a rookie, and he didn’t showcase his big-play ability, but he showed a talent for breaking tackles. He proved that he could be a three-down running back in college at Memphis and could explode if given more touches.
One of the big reasons that Henderson didn’t see the field more often as a rookie was Malcolm Brown. Brown’s the veteran presence at the position, entering his sixth season with the team. While he’s never had an extended look, he’s had productive spells and was Gurley’s primary backup, even spelling him in the red zone at times to the frustration of fantasy owners.
This feels like one of the most genuine competitions in the league. It looks as if the Rams will feature a committee, but it would be a surprise at this early stage if Akers doesn’t lead the team in touches at running back. Les Snead and Sean McVay had the opportunity to add a backup to Henderson and Brown, and instead, they decided to make upgrading the position their priority.
What is Akers’ dynasty value?
The Rams averaged 25 rushing attempts per game in 2019. The RBs weren’t a big part of the passing game, but they still accounted for 61 targets across the season. There’s a reasonable chance that Akers touches the ball 12-15 times per game, which would make him an intriguing fantasy option.
Despite having his least productive campaign in terms of rushing yards, Gurley still scored 12 touchdowns on the ground, and it seems unlikely that the Rams will be looking to throw more with Brandin Cooks no longer on the roster. Gurley finished the season as the fantasy RB12 in standard scoring, and Akers could definitely be more efficient, even if the volume is unlikely to be there.[sv slug=dynastysocial]
In our post-draft Superflex rookie mock draft, Akers was drafted with the seventh pick. He was the 5th non-quarterback taken, and that seems about right. His upside is huge, given that he has the potential to be the RB1 for one of the top offenses in football, but it looks as if he will be sharing the workload early on.
Still, with Malcolm Brown entering the last year of his contract and the coaching staff seemingly not willing to commit to Darrell Henderson, you could find yourself looking back on Akers’ dynasty value in 2020 as a bargain!
Andy Gallagher is a writer for the Pro Football Network covering Fantasy Football. You can follow him @AndySGallagher on Twitter.