Cam Akers is out for the season, so who will replace him as the Rams’ No. 1 back and thus also on the fantasy radar?
A season with expectations for the Los Angeles Rams took a big hit Tuesday morning with news running back Cam Akers will miss the entire 2021 campaign after suffering a torn Achilles while training. Fantasy football managers who have already drafted him now have to form another plan, and the many fantasy drafters who remain can now scratch a workhorse back off their cheat sheets.
Perhaps due to having no training camp or preseason games, the Rams eased Akers into action as a rookie last year. In his first nine games he had double-digit carries just twice, with two more games where he had nine carries. He also missed two games early, so that was surely a factor in his reduced work.
But from Week 13-17, with a missed game due to an ankle injury in Week 16, Akers had 20 or more carries three times in four games with a total of 86 carries for 340 yards while adding 96 receiving yards on eight catches. Over that span, he was RB19 in standard fantasy scoring. Then in the playoffs (two games), he had 221 yards and two touchdowns on 46 carries. But a looming breakout will now have to wait.
Fantasy Football: Who will replace Cam Akers in Rams’ backfield?
With Akers out, the next man up in the Rams’ backfield is Darrell Henderson. He was not used much as a rookie in 2019 (39 carries in 13 games), but last year he had a bigger role and posted 783 total yards (624 rushing) with six total touchdowns.
Prior to Akers seizing the lead role last year, Henderson had at least 12 carries in five of six games from Week 2-Week 7. Over that stretch, with three games where he had over 80 rushing yards, he was RB9 in standard fantasy scoring (RB15 in full PPR).
Behind Henderson, the Rams have to have some concern about their running back depth. Malcolm Brown left for the Miami Dolphins in free agency. Xavier Jones, Raymond Calais, Jake Funk and Otis Anderson have exactly zero NFL carries between them. Funk (seventh-round pick) and Anderson (undrafted) are rookies. Adrian Peterson is the biggest name among the currently available free agent running backs, with some others (Royce Freeman, Sony Michel) who may become available soon. The Rams are certainly taking a hard look at those options now.
Henderson is now firmly on the fantasy radar Rams’ new lead back for 2021, and he’s now in the RB2/RB3 conversation depending on league size and scoring format. Anyone else, internally or an eventual outside addition, would be a backup seeing a minority share of the work. But in some cases (Peterson), that backup might do just enough to vulture notable production from him. So any developments there are worth watching, in terms of the Rams adding someone to their backfield. But Henderson’s fantasy stock is on the rise as Akers’ direct replacement.