With the 2023 NFL Draft in the rearview mirror, fantasy football managers — particularly those in dynasty leagues — are trying to size up rookie values. The Los Angeles Rams invested a seventh-round pick on RB Zach Evans, so what might dynasty managers expect from him?
Zach Evans Dynasty Outlook and Value
Every draft pick matters. Each one is deliberate. But when a team trades up, we need to take particular notice of which player they get. Because trading up generally means they’re giving up net draft capital. Essentially, to that team, the player they’re getting is worth more than his draft position.
The Rams traded up with the Buffalo Bills near the close of the sixth round of the 2023 Draft, giving up a 2024 sixth-rounder in the process. Next year’s pick almost assuredly will come earlier in the sixth round. The Rams are among the biggest longshots to win next year’s Super Bowl. But clearly, they wanted Zach Evans. And that’s who they got.
Evans might turn out to be one of the best value picks of the sixth round. While there are plenty of reasons why he stuck around until Day 3 — including five fumbles (three lost) on 290 career collegiate carries — he appears capable of handling an NFL load if given the opportunity.
Now, all we can do at this stage is speculate. The NFL repeatedly exposes can’t-miss prospects as bench fodder. And it occasionally reveals late-round selections to be absolute draft steals.
Evans finds himself in a fascinating spot, which should embolden managers to take a shot in dynasty drafts. The once-promising Cam Akers is entering the final year of his rookie contract after battling injuries and inconsistency. Nevertheless, he dominated in his final four games last season. If he can pick up this year where he left off, Akers could be “the guy” in this backfield while picking up a fifth-year option, or perhaps even earning an extension.
He’s the backfield wild card at the moment — the guy who will most impact Evans’ fantasy value in 2023, and possibly throughout his first four seasons.
But this backfield remains thin, and Evans possesses the skills to leapfrog Kyren Williams to become the Rams’ RB2 on the depth chart. It’s a battle to watch in camp.
If Evans is successful, then the big remaining question will be whether Los Angeles gives Akers a heavy load, or if they’d prefer to keep him around 14-16 touches a game. The answer probably hinges on whether they plan to keep Akers beyond this year.
Evans could push for touches in Year 1. Or he might ride the pine as a rookie, with a shot at claiming a meaningful role if the Rams move on from Akers in 2024.
Zach Evans Fantasy Ranking
PFN’s Tommy Garrett ranks Evans No. 38 in his rookie dynasty mock draft, sandwiched between Colts RB Evan Hull and Patriots WR Kayshon Boutte. As we know, rankings are largely subjective, because they hinge not only on objective truths about players but also perceptions of how they’ll be utilized, as well as personal fantasy preferences.
For example, you might be the kind of manager who loads up on 1B running backs (“complementary” RBs like AJ Dillon) and RB handcuffs, knowing that you can get massive upside at relatively little expense.
Or you might be a best-in-class manager who targets elite positional-skill players whenever possible, followed by filling positional gaps. Why take a running back who gets you 6-8 points when you can snag a wide receiver who averages 8-10?
I fall into the former camp, which means I’m normally biased toward guys like Evans, especially in an RB corps that might elevate him to a handcuff role by the preseason. So much hinges on how Evans performs in July and August. If he shows well, then I believe he’ll get his shot as a coveted backup.
As always, dynasty managers should understand the risks and benefits. We don’t know what this Rams offense will look like in 2025, or even 2024. If they experience another disastrous season, will they be forced into an early rebuild?
I’ve long believed that Cooper Kupp is a prime midseason trade candidate this year if L.A. doesn’t look like a playoff team. The franchise might also be forced to begin negotiations with Matthew Stafford on restructuring his contract, which runs through the 2026 season.
Through it all, we’re left with the Rams trading up to get the RB they wanted. Across many metrics, Evans looks NFL-ready. Given the critical importance of his position in fantasy, and Akers’ injury history and frequent struggles, I’d reach for Evans as a top-22 option in rookie dynasty drafts.
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