Preseason Player Analysis
What You Need to Know:
- Akers opened his 2020 rookie season playing 33% of the Rams’ offensive snaps and carrying 14 times in Week 1 -- both 2nd to RB Malcolm Brown.
- Akers suffered a rib injury in Week 2. He missed the next 2 games and was quiet over the following 3.
- His workload started to pick up from Weeks 8 through 12, averaging 8.3 carries per game. And then he was unleashed.
- Across Weeks 13 through 15 -- alongside Darrell Henderson and Brown -- Akers posted these rushing lines:
- He suffered a high-ankle sprain in that 3rd game and missed Week 16. Akers (surprisingly) returned for Week 17 and Los Angeles’ 2 playoff games, posting these rushing lines:
- Over those 6 games, Akers averaged 22 carries and garnered 86% of the team’s RB carries.
- He was much less active in the passing game during that stretch, totaling 11 catches on 14 targets. Henderson and Brown combined for 8 catches and 10 targets.
- Among 47 RBs with 100+ carries last season, Akers ranked 32nd in Elusive Rating and 36th in Pro Football Focus’ rushing grades. Henderson beat Akers in both metrics.
- If we look just at those 6 games in a workhorse role, he ranked 35th in Elusive Rating and 14th in PFF rushing grade among 44 qualifiers.
- Both the Rams coaching staff and beat writers have talked up Akers’ role this season.
- HC Sean McVay called Akers a "3-down back" and a "very special player" in February.
- McVay in June: “He’s obviously a great runner, but he’s got ability as a pass-catcher coming from the backfield, and we can displace him and put him in the slot or the outside receiver location. There’s not any limitations, but we’ll see how it comes to life.”
- The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue said in May that she expects a bigger passing-game role for Akers this season.
- Henderson returns for 2021, but Brown is gone. He tallied 101 carries last year and led Rams RBs with 33 targets and 276 pass routes.
- In limited opportunities last year, Akers beat Henderson in yards per route run, but Henderson beat Akers in PFF receiving grade and pass-blocking grade.
- Akers was a solid pass-catcher at Florida State, posting 16-116-1, 23-145-2 and 30-225-4 receiving lines across his 3 seasons.
- Akers has big rushing upside in this offense. The Rams have finished top 10 in rushing TDs in all 4 seasons under McVay. They’ve also ranked top 10 in rushing attempts and yards in 3 of those 4 seasons.
- Todd Gurley led all RBs in fantasy points in McVay’s first season in 2017. He ranked 3rd in PPR points and 1st in non-PPR in 2018. Gurley averaged 18.4 carries and 5.8 targets per game across those 2 seasons. That rushing volume is attainable for Akers this season. He’d need to make a big leap to reach that target number.
Draft Sharks Bottom Line:
Akers closed last season in a workhorse role, averaging 22 carries over his last 6 games. That, the departure of Malcolm Brown and HC Sean McVay’s history of producing successful running games gives Akers upside into the top 5 RBs this season.
He’s riskier than most of the other guys he’ll go around in fantasy drafts this summer, though. He only saw extensive action in those 6 games last year, was never heavily involved in the passing game and was actually out-played by Darrell Henderson according to most advanced rushing metrics.
We recommend passing on Akers in Round 1 -- but his upside might be worth taking a shot on if he’s available in the 2nd.