The Rams had been blessed with Todd Gurley at his prime. His dominance on the Rams resembled Marshall Faulk back in the day. Now with Gurley gone, there needs to be a replacement. Gurley’s backup was Darrell Henderson who never really got going when Gurley was out last year. Before the 2020 draft, it was Henderson who appeared to be the starting running back, but the Rams decided that they needed someone else when they draft Cam Akers in the second round. When the Rams drafted Henderson, he was supposed to be a complement to Gurley, so it is unclear still if Akers will be the new complement or Henderson will remain the complement. All eyes are pointing towards Akers taking the lead role which would give him much more value than where he is at right now given the skepticism. But whether he takes the starting position or not, he is certainly going to have his impact on the Rams’ offense this season.
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Akers exploded to the scene last year in which he tallied 1,369 yards from scrimmage and 18 total touchdowns. The Seminoles did not see any success come from it, but that does not take away the type of production that he found on the field. Akers does not only have power when he runs but also has speed. His power is seen in just how much the man can squat. In the following tweet, you can see him squat 600 lbs. which is absolutely insane. His NFL combine also shows how fast he is despite his strength. He ran a 4.47 40-yard dash which ranked 5th among running backs. Regardless of how good his team was, it is clear that Akers is built like an elite running back.
— Logan B. Robinson (@LogansTwitty) July 24, 2019
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From what the Rams have said about Akers it looks like he is the go-to guy this season. Henderson will be taking more of the side role with Malcolm Brown being the short-yardage back. The thing dampening Akers’ numbers is what Henderson’s role will entail. Having Henderson cut into some of the carries will be fine, but no one knows how much that will be. While I expect he will get the bulk of the carries, he will most likely not be a 1,000-yard rusher out of the gate. I would put him more around 700-900 yards while being heavy in the goalline offense. He also showed work in the receiving game at Florida State, so there might be some added value there as well.
Auction Value: $11
Cam Akers is being drafted about a round or two ahead of Henderson at this point. Because his workload is currently unknown, it makes sense that he is going so low. He is ranked around RB28 in most rankings which puts him at the low end of starting running backs. He is 4th in terms of rookie running backs with only Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Jonathan Taylor, and D’Andre Swift ahead of him. I do not expect him to move much because we will not know until the season starts what his load will be. Will he get 200+ touches or not quite so much? What is apparent is that there is quite a drop off after Akers in the rankings. Once Akers and Swift go, value drops extensively which makes it even more reasonable to go after Akers.
Cam Akers – FSU RB
It’s one thing for an RB to be a capable receiver. It’s another to be able to beat a DB 15 yards down the field.
And if that’s not enough, the skill to pluck a laser out of the air w/ one hand?! Akers belongs in the top half of Rd 1 of your 1QB rookie drafts. pic.twitter.com/gWaAc2OWiI
— FF_Kyle (@DynastyFF_KyleM) January 19, 2020
A starting running back will always have a decent floor. Barring any injuries, it can be assumed that he will get you around 800 total yards with his fair share of red-zone work, seeing how he excels in breaking tackles. The Rams have liked to use their running backs in the passing game. Akers had 225 receiving yards last year with 4 touchdowns so he is capable of stepping into this role which raises his floor. Most weeks I would expect at least 50 yards a game which would put him at 800 yards on the season.
There stands the possibility that Akers will be the true back for the Rams with Henderson and Brown playing minuscule roles that do not affect Akers’ production. If this happens to be the case, you will obviously see a high uptick in his yards. I could see him surpassing 1,000 yards under that condition. It is highly unlikely that Henderson will be limited that much, but Akers has the talent, as seen at Florida State, to become a top running back. But still, I would put him around a high RB2 at best, seeing how many other top running backs are out there that have already cemented their positions.
Cam Akers has some of the most fun runs in the class. Has great change of direction skills to go with constantly churning legs. pic.twitter.com/2mU4TF8VTk
— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) February 5, 2020
Los Angeles Rams Offense
The Rams are going through losing Brandin Cooks while Josh Reynolds rises to the position of the #3 receiver. Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods return as the best one-two wide receiver lineup in the league. Jared Goff continues to run the offense as a young developed quarterback. Last season, the Rams ran for 1,499 yards which are on the low-end compared to the rest of the NFL. The Rams like to pass the ball a lot which is why it is important that Akers can catch the ball. While the Rams aren’t the most pass-heavy team to their running backs, Akers could become a larger contributor than in recent years.
Strength of Schedule
This is where Akers’ value begins to deteriorate. The Rams face the hardest schedule for running backs in the league. Playing the 49ers twice will be difficult as well as playing the Bills and Patriots. The Bears also have a challenging run defense which the Rams will face midseason. It will not be an easy journey for the Rams this season which might make them want to go to the air even more than they have. Because of this, Akers will return less value. Gurley was able to find great success in the Rams’ system despite being a passing team, so it will continue to be a guessing game going forward for Akers.
Unless the Rams come out and strictly say what to expect in terms of snaps, there will only be guesses with what Akers’ production will look like. While they have said he is the go-to guy, what that means is unclear. The Rams are known for being a pass-heavy team. That is not good for Akers who, while he had shown he is a good pass catcher, does not have any cemented value in the passing game for the Rams like their receivers do. But at the end of the day, Akers will still produce value for the Rams and be their top running back on a good team. He should be very active near the endzone and have the chance to produce some large numbers. As he marks the end to the running backs with major potential, he should not be passed up by anyone that needs a running back later in the draft. He has major upside to him and you are not going to find anything good after him.