Los Angeles Rams running back Cam Akers suffered a torn Achilles during training, according to NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero. This significant injury for the surging second-year breakout candidate is one of the first major preseason injuries to impact 2021 fantasy football leagues.
Cam Akers Injury: Rams 2021 Fantasy Football Outlook
Darrell Henderson is the most immediate name to receive more opportunities for touches and receptions now that Akers is done for the 2021 season. Henderson was already a spotlighted target for 2021 fantasy football drafters after his useful 2020 season (624 rushing yards, 4.5 yards per carry, 6 total TDs) as a complementary back.
Of course, an unspecified injury has limited Henderson’s availability in offseason workouts. However, until more clarity surfaces with what’s hindered in him, Henderson should see an immediate spike in fantasy football draft value.
Who could the Rams sign to replace Akers for 2021?
The Rams don’t carry much experience in the rest of the running back depth chart. Jake Funk, Raymond Calais, Xavier Jones and Otis Anderson comprise a group of lackluster names who likely won’t benefit as a result of the Akers injury — though Funk carries a bit of intrigue due to his athleticism.
Being that they’re in win-now mode after acquiring quarterback Matthew Stafford, LA likely will acquire a depth running back in the coming days.
We could see a reunion with former Rams standout Todd Gurley, or other free agents like Le’Veon Bell, Adrian Peterson and Duke Johnson. Whichever back would form a committee with Henderson would see an immediate jump to weekly flex consideration for 2021 fantasy football lineups.
The Rams might be ready to move on from a second go with Gurley, and he’s not the only available RB connected to the Rams. Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell has previous ties to Peterson from his time in various roles with Washington, including as offensive coordinator in 2019. When O’Connell was Cleveland Browns quarterback coach in 2015, Johnson was in Cleveland’s backfield.
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Darrell Henderson 2021 Fantasy Football Outlook
It’s still best to value Henderson as the top option of a backfield committee, which can be frustrating for fantasy football players. However, his share has the potential to be more than a 60% majority if the Rams’ O-line and his own development eventually allow him to be deployed more frequently between the tackles and in appearances inside the 10- or even 5-yard line.
Henderson’s boost is much more solid in PPR formats, which will more sizably reward his work and likely utilization uptick in passing downs.
Hendo will likely have more talent than whatever secondary carrier is brought in to handle a chunk of short-yardage, early-down, and/or red-zone work. However, his TD ceiling could sink.
Given O’Connell’s connection to Peterson, it would be logical for the Rams to sign the future Hall of Famer to serve as a bruising sidekick to Henderson. A late-rounds dart throw at any of these backs (maybe even Funk) before a signing happens could pay off big-time.
- The Game Day fantasy football writer Nate Hamilton ranks Darrell Henderson among the top 50 picks in his 2021 fantasy football rankings. Click to see where to pick the Rams’ new top RB and how much to pay for him in an auction.
Cam Akers Injury: Fantasy Football Outlook
One of the most hyped breakout player candidates for the 2021 NFL season, Akers now looks like he’ll miss the full year. A torn Achilles tendon is just about an instant season-ender, which — barring the Rams refuting this report — means we won’t see him in regular-season action until the 2022 season, assuming his recovery goes smoothly.
Akers broke out late in his 2020 rookie year. After LA’s Week 9 bye, his workload grew, and he eventually overtook Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown. From Weeks 12 through 17 (including missing Week 16 with an ankle injury sustained in Week 15), he averaged 104 yards from scrimmage per game and 4.5 yards per carry, while totaling two touchdowns.
Cam Akers Torn Achilles: Injury Analysis
UPDATE: From The Game Day’s injury writer, licensed physical therapist Kyle Trimble:
An Achilles’ tendon rupture results from sudden dorsiflexion of the foot while the calf muscle is under tension. This typically occurs when planting hard to change direction or stepping backwards suddenly while the player is trying to move forward.
This injury can take upwards of a year to fully recover from, though medical advancements such as blood flow restriction and aggressive early rehab have cut down on the lengthy timeline. This injury is highly unfortunate, but the timing of this injury can allow Akers the entire year to come to camp in 2022 fully healthy.
Return to play rates vary between 60-to-72 percent range, depending on source. When he returns, he will likely lack the explosiveness, power, and agility he previously featured. These traits can return in years 2 and 3 following injury, but this is a tough injury to recover from especially as a running back.
Fortunately, Akers is young and a high draft pick of the team that selected him. I expect that they stick by their guy to maximize his recovery. Look for 2023 or 2024 to have Akers perform closer to 2020, but no guarantee he returns to pre-injury levels.
Cam Akers: 2021 Dynasty Fantasy Football Outlook
As previously stated, data shows the recovery from a torn Achilles injury does not project optimism for future performance, especially not in the immediate years following this catastrophic setback.
In turn, dynasty fantasy football players looking to seize this opportunity to buy for the long term have to be careful. His Round 1 value in redraft fantasy football leagues was already questionable, given Henderson’s presence and Akers’ mere partial season of success. Don’t pay that price in a dynasty trade for an RB who may not be at full speed in his first year back from injury — or fall short for years to come.
Of course, an Akers fantasy football manager looking to compete this coming season might be looking to sell off the Florida State alum, who plays in a Rams system with an O-line that complements his zone-read running style. A reasonably targeted offer by a non-contending player that doesn’t require a heavy return package could be a +EV opportunity worth taking.