The Los Angeles Rams don’t have much in the way of running back depth behind starter Cam Akers. In an effort to add to it, the team signed Sony Michel, who spent the entire 2021 season with the Rams. Is Michel a problem for Akers in fantasy football? Or is he nothing more than a camp body?
Fantasy Impact of Sony Michel Signing
When the Rams signed Michel ahead of the 2021 season, he was only supposed to be depth behind Akers and Darrell Henderson Jr. Instead, Akers tore his Achilles, elevating Michel to the RB2 role. After Henderson fell out of favor, Michel became the lead back and was pretty impressive down the stretch.
From Weeks 13-17, Michel was a near 90% snap-share back and averaged 16.5 PPR fantasy points per game. While that may initially be frightening to those looking to invest in Akers, it’s important to remember what happened next.
In the playoffs, on the Rams’ Super Bowl run, just 5.5 months removed from the Achilles tear, Akers reclaimed the lead-back role from Michel. If that version of Akers, the one who was clearly nowhere near 100% and completely lacked explosiveness, was able to take Michel’s job, then Michel should pose very little threat to Akers this season.
Additionally, the Rams chose not to bring Michel back for the 2022 season. Michel then signed with the Miami Dolphins but was unable to even make the team. He was able to latch on with the Los Angeles Chargers but was a seldom-used backup before the team stopped activating him ahead of Week 12.
We don’t yet have the details on Michel’s contract, but we can safely assume it’s a one-year deal with little to no guaranteed money. If anything, this should only further solidify Akers’ status as the Rams’ lead back.
What Does Sony Michel Mean for the Rest of the Rams’ Backfield?
For fantasy purposes, it’s really Akers or bust in this backfield. While L.A. does have a history of using one back, if Akers gets hurt, the answer is likely either not currently on the team or doesn’t exist at all.
Behind Akers is rookie sixth-rounder Zach Evans, last year’s fifth-rounder Kyren Williams, and 2022 UDFA Ronnie Rivers. It’s entirely possible that none of these players even belong in the NFL. I can already say with a high degree of confidence that Williams and Rivers do not.
The Rams have arguably the weakest RB depth chart behind their starter. As a result, it makes sense to bring in a veteran like Michel — someone they’ve seen before.
With that said, there’s no guarantee Michel even makes this team. In all likelihood, Los Angeles is not done signing running backs. Fantasy managers looking to take shots on anyone other than Akers are just wasting roster spots. We have no idea who would be the primary beneficiary of an Akers injury, nor should we have any confidence in whoever that guy is to produce.
As of right now, Akers looks poised for a pretty substantial role. Outside of Cooper Kupp, the Rams severely lack playmakers. With each passing day, I am growing more and more interested in drafting Akers this season. If the Rams really head into the 2023 season with no one of note behind him, Akers could end up being one of the best values of the season.
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