Fantasy Court: The Case Against Cam Akers in 2021
In the Fantasy Court Series, two writers for The Fantasy Footballers choose sides on a player and present their argument to help you decide whether or not you should be draft that player. This case is all about the hype machine, Cam Akers. I think Akers will take a step forward this season, but he won’t meet the lofty expectations for where he’s being drafted. For the counterargument, you can read Nate Henry’s Case for Cam Akers in 2021.
It’s important to acknowledge that draft cost is the most important factor when it comes to loving or hating a fantasy player come draft day. Cam Akers finished the 2020 season as the RB43 overall, and the hype train is very real heading into 2021! As of this writing, he’s currently valued at an average draft position (ADP) of 2.06 as RB11 according to Sleeper.
Cam Akers is entering his second year as a running back under Sean McVay’s high-powered offense. Akers had several impressive games last season, and his workload grew as the season progressed. The Rams upgraded quarterbacks over the offseason by bringing in Matthew Stafford, and they have a good offensive line. Akers has an opportunity to step into a workhorse role if he can separate himself from Darrell Henderson and other less commonly known players on the depth chart.
That being said, I’m not buying it. I hope he proves me wrong, but I don’t think his ADP as the 18th overall player is realistic. Yes, his workload increased as the season went on… but he wasn’t very efficient with those touches. While Stafford is an upgrade at QB, the Rams have a very talented receiving corps. I don’t think Akers’ talent will separate him enough to warrant a workhorse role for the duration of the season. Cam Akers is being overdrafted and I’m staying far away.
Akers finished 2020 as the RB49 on a points per game basis. For the sake of removing bias, let’s look at how he finished if you remove Weeks 6 and 7 – when he was active but had zero touches. Let’s also narrow down the RB list to those that played at least 10 games so that we exclude one-hit wonders. Using these filters, Cam Akers still only finished as the RB34 (points per game), just ahead of Wayne Gallman and Giovani Bernard!
Cam was also incredibly inefficient with the touches he saw. The RBs with the fewest fantasy points per touch in 2020 (min 100 touches) were Frank Gore (0.5), Phillip Lindsay (0.5), Joshua Kelley (0.5), Benny Snell Jr. (0.6), and Cam Akers (0.6). Akers had seven regular-season games last season with 10+ touches. His fantasy output in those games: 4.8, 5.9, 3.8, 15.9, 20.4, 6.7, & 8.6 fantasy points. Akers also only faced one top-12 fantasy defense in those games.
Recency bias is a major contributor to his ADP. He saw a heavy workload and played great in the 2020 playoffs. While that’s a great sign…it doesn’t erase his inefficiency earlier in the season.
Expectations for 2021
Sean McVay has a great offensive mind and creates schemes based on player talent, and I think Akers will see a heavy workload to start the season and then it will taper off. Akers did NOT separate himself from Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown last season. Consider how the Rams spread the ball around:
- LAR red zone rush attempts in 2020: D Henderson (31), C Akers (31).
- LAR rush attempts inside 5-yard line: D Henderson (9), C Akers (8), M Brown (7).
- Akers had 156 total opportunities (carries + targets) in 2020. That’s two more opportunities than Henderson, and Henderson still finished with 27% more fantasy points!
The Rams use multiple backs again this season. Henderson will continue to earn carries on the field, and there’s a decent chance he outproduces Akers… like he did last season. Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Rams add more depth to the backfield now that Malcolm Brown is gone.
Matthew Stafford will be taking over at QB, and I think the Rams will take a step forward. There are plenty of Rams pass catchers that will compete for targets: Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Tyler Higbee, Van Jefferson (2020 2nd round draft pick), Tutu Atwell (2021 2nd round draft pick), DeSean Jackson, etc. While Stafford’s arrival likely means more targets to the running backs, we have no reason to believe that Stafford’s arrival leads to a gigantic increase in targets for Akers himself, who was third in target share among Rams RBs last season.
I project Akers to finish around RB24 or so on the season, which would be a significant step forward from last year, but not worth the high draft pick you’ll spend.
In conclusion, Cam Akers is overvalued at his current ADP of 2.06. He was inconsistent last season and showed major flaws. Don’t fall victim to recency bias.
I will not have any Cam Akers shares in 2021, especially considering that I prefer running backs like Antonio Gibson, D’Andre Swift, and Najee Harris more AND they have a lower ADP. Avoid Cam Akers this draft season.