Cam Akers
Ashley Landis: Associated Press

Can Cam Akers Be An Elite Fantasy Running Back In 2021?

Cam Akers was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in 2020 with the 52nd overall pick. The former Florida State Seminole finished the season as the starting back for the Rams and looks like a future star in this league. In 13 games, Akers had 145 attempts, 645 yards, and two touchdowns. With the departure of Malcolm Brown, can Cam Akers take the step to become an elite fantasy running back?

Akers has a couple of advantages on the Rams. First, head coach Sean McVay comes from the Shanahan coaching tree, which is predicated on running the football. That was evident in 2018, as Todd Gurley had 1,250 yards and 17 rushing touchdowns in McVay’s system. The Rams offensive line is above average with two solid tackles in Andrew Whitworth and Rob Havenstein, and although they lost Austin Blythe, their starting center, to the Chiefs, their O-line remains a strength, not a weakness.

Second, Malcolm Brown had 101 attempts, 419 yards, and five touchdowns with the Rams in 2020. With Brown gone, Akers is going to a lot more touches in 2021. I believe it took a while for Akers to get acclimated to life as an NFL running back, as two of his best games came in the last six weeks of the season. Akers had 15 or more carries in each of the last six games, including two playoff games.

The one thing that could take away carries and touchdowns from Akers is the addition of Matt Stafford. The Rams shipped Jared Goff and some first-round picks to Detroit in exchange for Stafford as McVay was evidently tired of Goff’s limitations. Stafford has a cannon of an arm and has shown he has elite quarterback traits, so McVay is going to want to test out his new toy which could limit Akers’ production in the run game.

The counterpoint to that is the Shanahan/McVay/LeFleur system usually takes two years for quarterbacks to fully grasp. In Jared Goff’s second year in the system, the Rams went to the Super Bowl. Aaron Rodger’s second year with Matt LeFleur, he was the league MVP, and in Jimmy Garoppolo’s second year with Shanahan, he was one completed pass away from winning the Super Bowl. With Stafford getting acclimated to the system, the Rams might choose to lean on Akers, who is entering his second year in the system.

Cam Akers finished as the 42nd ranked fantasy back in 2020. I think Akers takes a huge jump in 2021 and has himself a top-15 fantasy season. Keep an eye on Akers when drafting, I think you could get this guy pretty late and find yourself a solid RB2 or starting flex.

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