It’s been a rollercoaster year for LA Rams running back Cam Akers and anyone who’s rostered him on their fantasy football team. But after last week’s explosion against the Denver Broncos on Christmas Day, it’s worth wondering whether Akers could turn out to be a savior for teams who either stuck with him, or took a chance in acquiring him.
Akers began the 2022 season as a mid-fourth round pick in 12-team fantasy leagues and the 20th running back off the board. Fully recovered from his Achilles’ injury, fantasy players hoped Akers could present some upside as the potential lead back for the defending Super Bowl champions.
None of it went as planned. The third-year back compiled just 151 yards on 51 carries through the first five weeks of the season. Yet things somehow got worse. Akers wound up in coach Sean McVay’s doghouse before requesting a trade that ultimately never came. Following the trade deadline, reports surfaced that the Rams had turned down multiple offers for the Florida State product and sought to repair the severed relationship.
Akers rejoined the lineup in Week 9 and mostly did nothing as the Rams revolved between Matt Stafford, John Wolford and Bryce Perkins under center. But over the last four weeks, Akers has experienced a bit of a renaissance and a return to fantasy football relevancy.
Akers has 64 carries for 285 yards and seven scores, as well as seven receptions for 65 yards. He is the RB3 in half-PPR formats during that stretch. I’ll take “Things I never thought I’d type three months ago for $500, Alex.”
If this were October, I’d question whether Akers’ performance is sustainable over the long haul. But if you’ve made it this far in your fantasy football season, all you really care about is the week (or next two weeks if your league is crazy and decides titles in Week 18). Can you trust Cam Akers with a fantasy football championship on the line?
Make sure you’re sitting down, because I’m about to tell you that you can.
Cam Akers – fantasy hero!
Sure, Akers has certainly benefitted from seven scores over the last four weeks. That’ll boost the profile of any player. But Akers’ workload and production is consistent and respectable across the board. His 64 carries rank eighth among all running backs over the last four weeks, and his 285 yards on the ground ranks sixth. Would we like to see Akers see a bit more work in the passing game? Absolutely. But in a season as wacky as this one a lack of third-down role shouldn’t deter you from riding the hot hand.
In case the stats and usage don’t sway you, perhaps the matchup will. This weekend the Rams face a Chargers team that has clinched its first playoff spot since 2018. The monkey is off the back of coach Brandon Staley and Justin Herbert, and it’s fair to wonder if the Chargers will be fully focused on a matchup with the lowly Rams.
Friendly matchup inbound
But it gets even better. The Chargers have been one of the most generous defenses to opposing tailbacks all season. Los Angeles is yielding 21.1 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs, the fifth-most in the league. The Chargers are 28th in run defense DVOA and have yielded the second-most rushing yards in the league to opposing backs.
The Los Angeles offense is far from the juggernaut it was a season ago, but the unit has perked up a bit since turning to Baker Mayfield. It’s hard to put a ton of stock last weekend’s performance against a Broncos defense that had clearly quit on its head coach. But if nothing else, the outburst showed that Sean McVay is still doing his best and the Rams are playing hard even in a lost season. It helps that Mayfield is looking to resurrect his career too.
Akers was viewed as nothing more than a desperation option for fantasy managers just a month ago. But he’s definitely worth a shot as a RB2 in your quest for a fantasy football championship.