Cam Akers Fantasy Soccer Profile
Everyone always wants to find the next great kids in fantasy football, and Cam Akers could be that guy. After a relatively slow start to his rookie season, the 2020 second-round pick dominated the track. Can he take that momentum into 2021 and become Todd Gurley’s proverbial legacy?
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Cam Akers Fantasy Football Profile
For all the hype, Cam Akers’ numbers haven’t really jumped off the side throughout the season. The rookie appeared in 13 games and ended his season with 625 rushing yards and two touchdowns from 145 carries with 11 receptions for 123 yards and one touchdown. Those numbers made it the RB45 in PPR format, but that doesn’t tell the full story.
After struggling with injuries early in the season, Akers absolutely dominated the last four regular season games. From weeks 13-17 (Akers missed week 16 to injury), the running back averaged 21.5 carries per game and saw an additional 2.8 targets per game while playing 63-79% of the snaps. This usage continued into the postseason, as Akers recorded 42.2 fantasy points in two playoff games combined.
This is obviously a small sample, but there is reason to believe that it will carry over to 2021. Akers and fellow running back colleague Darrell Henderson both struggled with injuries year-round, but Akers was clearly the best option when both backs were healthy, as in this fantastic thread. Sean McVay loves to use a workhorse when he has a player he trusts, and Akers could very well be that player.
Can we trust small samples?
If Akers is able to even close to maintaining his workload in the late season, the volume alone should secure him an RB1 floor in the lower range. However, we are assuming a very small sample and we do not know how predictable this workload actually is. Fortunately, we have a similar case to analyze.
At this point last year, everyone in the fantasy football community was hoping Miles Sanders would break out in year 2. Much like Akers, Sanders was a second-round pick who started his rookie season on the bench before ripping apart the fantasy in the final weeks of the season.
Sanders didn’t live up to expectations in 2020, but that wasn’t because of a lack of opportunity. Amazingly, Sanders finished fifth in the league (71%), which means the coaching staff tried to extrapolate the 2019 result over a full season. The results weren’t there, but that had more to do with the dumpster fire that was the Philadelphia Eagles 2020 offense than Sanders himself.
Running backs with the highest snap percentage as of 2020.
• Christian McCaffrey – 77%
• David Johnson – 74%
• David Montgomery – 74%
• Ezekiel Elliott – 72%
• Miles Sanders – 71%
• Dalvin Cook – 70%
• Myles Gaskin – 69%
• James Robinson – 69%
• Derrick Henry – 65%
– Kyle Williams ✪ (@betonthegame) June 22, 2021
Sanders’ success shows we can trust small samples, and McVay’s coaching history confirms that he is ready to use a three-down workhorse. From 2017 to 2018, Todd Gurley was the undisputed star of fantasy football. In 2017, he ended up as a runaway RB1 while playing in a staggering 76.3% of offensive snaps. Gurley “fell” to RB3 in 2018 but that’s just because he missed the time to get injured. The massive workload was still there and Akers can earn a volume similar to that of the leader of this offensive.
Expecting a 75% Snap percentage is a little ridiculous, and that heavy workload led to the untimely end of the Todd Gurley era. I don’t expect Akers (or anyone other than Christian McCaffrey) to see this type of workload, but Akers could very well end up with 65-70% of running back touches.
We know Akers will likely take the lead in Los Angeles, but how many options will he actually have? Volume is just as important as talent in fantasy football. So let’s take a look at what Los Angeles likes to do on the offensive.
Adjusting for the game script and situation, the Los Angeles Rams were one of the most evenly balanced teams in the league from a run / pass standpoint. Remember, McVay called games with a quarterback he didn’t trust and with the best defense in the league. The Rams moved heaven and earth to get a better quarterback in Matthew Stafford, and defensive performances tend to drop back to average. Both factors mean there will be fewer rush attempts for Akers but there could be more scoring opportunities.
With all the talk about how much the Rams love to play the ball … they really didn’t
League average pass rate with a quarterback McVay didn’t trust and an elite defense. I have to imagine the volume going way up at Stafford pic.twitter.com/7x4RGSObrm
– Dave Latham, Lifelong Bucs Fan (@DLPatsThoughts) June 23, 2021
With that in mind, it’s time to do a rough napkin calculation. The Los Angeles Rams running backs averaged 24 carries per game last year, but that number is set to decline. For now, let’s say you will have an average of 22 carries per game. If Akers gets 65-70% of those touches, it means he has an average of 14-16 carries per game. Extrapolated to a season with 17 games, this means that Akers should finish with around 260 carries for 1,170 yards and eight touchdowns.
Of course, running the ball is only part of the game. Targets are far more valuable than carries, especially in PPR formats. This is the biggest red flag around Akers as he ended his rookie season with just 11 receptions on 14 discs. Even during his strong finish, he never saw more than four discs in a game.
Akers will see more than 14 targets in 2021, but I don’t see him becoming a target monster in the passing game. Florida State Product never had more than 30 receptions in any given college season, while Todd Gurley only had one season of 60 receptions or more. Akers’ story and McVay’s scheme both work against him here, so he’ll likely max out at 40 receptions and 320 yards.
Conclusion on Cam Akers in fantasy football
Ultimately, Cam Akers has what it takes to break through in 2021. He’s got himself a lead role at the end of his rookie season, and both Miles Sanders and Sean McVay’s previous tendencies show that there’s a pretty good chance Akers will keep that workload in Movement forward. Volume sets the floor, and those many forecasted odds per game practically guarantee Akers will finish as a top 12 defender, health aside.
However, the lack of work in the passing game limits its overall cap. Akers saw little work as a receiver last year, and his college profile suggests that this will never be a part of his game. Even though he sees the majority of running back goals, Sean McVay’s scheme just doesn’t see running back as a receiving option all too often. This stays out of the discussion of a top 5 finish unless it significantly exceeds expectations in the touchdown department.
FantasyData currently has Akers in the average draft position as RB11, exactly on par with guys like Aaron Jones, Antonio Gibson and Joe Mixon. It’s impossible to predict the Packers without knowing the fate of Aaron Rodgers, so I’d love to take Akers over one of the three running backs mentioned above. Cam Akers should give you a top 12 finish even if it doesn’t have an overall RB1 potential for fantasy football.
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