Injuries suck. Los Angeles Rams running back Cam Akers finished 2020 on a high note and was one of the biggest breakout candidates in fantasy football. Unfortunately, the former second-round pick tore his Achilles, prematurely ending his season and leaving Darrell Henderson all alone in the Los Angeles backfield. Will Darrell Henderson be able to take over the Cam Akers role in fantasy football, and will Akers return to form in 2022?
Fantasy Football: Projecting Darrell Henderson, Cam Akers Moving Forward
Darrell Henderson Fantasy Football Outlook
As mentioned in his fantasy football profile, I had Cam Akers projected for 260 carries for 1,170 yards and eight touchdowns to go along with 40 receptions for 320 yards. I believed Akers would receive 65-70% of the running back touches, but I expected the Rams overall rushing total to decrease thanks to a better quarterback and some defensive regression.
In terms of market share, Henderson should step right into that bellcow role. Henderson might not be as talented as Akers, but he is considerably better than Xavier Jones and Jake Funk. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the Rams don’t plan on signing another running back, which is obviously great for Henderson. However, even if they do, it’s not like a 37-year old Adrian Peterson is going to demand too many touches.
Talent gets a running back on the field, but it doesn’t play too large of a role in what actually happens on running plays. Blocking and playcalling have a much larger effect on the success of a run play than the actual runner, so Henderson should produce similar results to Akers. After all, this very same team replaced prime Todd Gurley with a washed-up C.J. Anderson just three years ago, and the rushing attack didn’t skip a beat.
You dynasty guys are getting waaaay too deep in evaluating RB’s based on talent. It’s a plug-and-play position – chase opportunity pic.twitter.com/ivRWpydc8L
— Dave Latham, Lifelong Bucs Fan (@DLPatsThoughts) January 21, 2021
Much like Akers, the biggest worry with Henderson is the lack of involvement in the passing game. The former third-round pick only recorded 16 receptions last year, and never had more than 24 receptions in his college career. Sean McVay’s scheme doesn’t target running backs, so he probably won’t see too many pass-catching opportunities. Passing is king in fantasy football, especially in PPR formats, so this does put a cap on his ceiling.
Final Projection: 245 carries, 1,105 yards, nine touchdowns | 35 receptions, 305 yards, one touchdown
Cam Akers Long-Term Dynasty Outlook
Cam Akers will not see the field in 2021, but he will come back eventually. However, just because he comes back doesn’t mean that he’ll have the same explosion and burst that he used to. Achilles injuries are notoriously difficult for running backs, and history suggests he won’t ever be the same.
Since it’s Marlon Mack day, this is what I could find on recent Achilles tears for RBs.
-11 total since 2010
-2 returned to play the following season (Hunter, Oliver)
-6 never saw an NFL touch again
-6 had 196+ touch season prior to tear
-0 had>85 touches in comeback year pic.twitter.com/APXmi1phSl
— Kyle_FFRecon (@Kyle_FFRecon) March 17, 2021
Granted, this is a small sample, but D’Onta Foreman is the most successful post-Achilles running back to date. While none of the players on the list above are 1:1 comparisons to Akers, it’s not like these guys are all scrubs. Foreman and Mikel Leshoure both had draft capital on their sides, while Vick Ballard and Isaiah Crowell had a history of NFL production. If Akers bucks this trend, he would be a massive outlier.
According to Edwin Porras of FantasyPoints (@FBInjuryDoc), running backs have the hardest time returning to form following an Achilles injury. This is because the Achilles tendon “transmits forces through joints to create power” and that “[w]hen the tendon remodels, it’s never the same”. Once again, this doesn’t bode well for Akers. Even with the latest in medical advances, it sounds like Akers is fighting an uphill battle to ever regain his old skills.
Cam Akers would have been a star if it weren’t for this Achilles injury. However, all signs point towards this being the end for the talented runner. If you can get a first-round pick for Akers’ services, you should absolutely pull the trigger. If not, hold him for now and wait for the inevitable offseason hype. Once that happens, sell high on a player that probably won’t ever truly return to form.
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