Like Paul Pierce coming out of the tunnel after being wheeled up the ramp, Cam Akers is set to return just in time for the fantasy football championship round. It isn’t official yet, but with Darrell Henderson being placed on injured reserve, the possibility is there for Akers to regain his lead role in short order. I’m not even going to frame this as a question — you need to spend whatever you have left to acquire Akers if he’s available on your league’s waiver wire.
Cam Akers had a great end to 2020
Akers was a highly touted prospect out of Florida State University, where he displayed athleticism, balance, and a tackle-breaking ability behind arguably one of the worst offensive lines in college football.
Akers routinely made something out of nothing, and he looked polished and agile at the NFL Scouting Combine. It was enough to earn him a second-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft.
To start his professional career, Akers worked behind Henderson for the majority of the season. Between Weeks 2-11 last year, Henderson averaged 11.7 carries and 2 targets per game. Akers averaged 5.6 carries and saw only 2 total targets over that same eight-game stretch. Fantasy managers (myself included) were clamoring for Akers to be given the starting gig, as he averaged 5.4 yards per carry to Henderson’s 4.3.
Henderson was injured in LA’s Week 13 game last year. From then on, Akers showed that he was the Rams’ running back of the future. He was given a bell-cow workload, averaging 21.5 rushing attempts per game while rushing for 340 yards and a TD in 4 games.
Akers suffered an Achilles injury before training camp this year
Many had Akers pegged as a massive second-year breakout candidate, but he tore his Achilles in July. The injury was expected to sideline him for the season, and many fantasy managers turned their eyes to 2022. How Akers is potentially ready to go in December is entirely beyond me.
“There is a possibility that he plays this week,” head coach Sean McVay said on Monday. “He looked really good last week in practice. (He) did a nice job. (I) want to make sure that we’re smart, checking all the boxes. But I mean, this guy is an impressive guy.”
Sony Michel and Cam Akers fantasy expectations
It’s easy to get excited about Akers. Hell, I am. Looking at this rationally, however, it seems highly unlikely that Akers will walk in and see 20 carries. The Rams have Sony Michel on the roster, and he’s been performing incredibly well for them this season.
Operating as the lead back for the last four weeks, Michel has averaged 22.3 rush attempts and 105.8 rushing yards per game. He’s looked fantastic, and the Rams have won four games in a row. Michel is not going to just disappear because Akers is back.
Yes, Akers will be LA’s lead back in 2022. He’ll be active and see the field this week, but he won’t be an instant RB1 off IR. However, if you need a flex play, he could see the field enough to generate some points. He’ll largely be touchdown-dependent, however. Use the waiver claim on him in case something happens with Michel between now and Sunday, but temper your expectations for the returning running back.