The NFL Draft has come and gone. However, the real fun is just starting.
As the newly drafted players settle into their new homes and are set to begin their careers, we across the fantasy football community prepare to bring some of these players into their new virtual homes.
As we prepare for and even begin our rookie drafts, there are still a lot of questions to be answered. That’s where these articles come into play as I try to do my best in breaking down what to expect from these new players for not only the upcoming season, but for years to come.
We’re beginning this process with one of the more intriguing players and landing spots of the draft, Cam Akers of Florida State.
The new Los Angeles Ram is looking to fill the hole left behind by Todd Gurley who was recently cut by the team before signing with the Atlanta Falcons.
The second round selection may have one of the clearest paths to immediate impact. Let’s start this breakdown with what to expect from Akers during the 2020 season.
Last season, a not 100-percent Gurley led the team in snap count with 805 snaps (71.1%) as Malcolm Brown saw 226 snaps (20%), Darrell Henderson played 95 (8.4%) and John Kelly played four snaps (0.4%.)
What’s more intriguing to look at is the snap splits of the Rams’ final five games, where they averaged 27.6 points-per-game opposed to the 22.6 points-per-game they averaged across the first 11 games.
During the final stretch of the season, Gurley played 77.8-percent of the snaps at running back.
With that being said, we can expect that whomever is the starting back for the Rams will see a large percentage of the snaps. It’s safe to assume that a back taken with second round capital will see his fair share of work.
Going off of a 70-percent snap share for Akers and going off of the 334 running plays the team gave to running backs a season ago, Akers will receive 234 carries.
Gurley averaged 3.8 yards-per-carry a season ago and Brown averaged 3.7. As the team did not address it’s offensive line via free agency or the draft, we’ll use Gurley’s 3.8 figure for Akers. That’ll put him at 889 yards on the ground.
As for touchdowns, Gurley had 12 and Brown had five. Without Gurley, we can assume that the short-yardage specialist Brown will take more of the red zone attempts. We’ll give Akers a gracious six rushing touchdowns.
Now, Akers is one of the best, if not the best receiving backs from the 2020 draft. Not only will he excel in catching the ball out of the backfield, but he can also play out of the slot, which is a team need with Bradin Cooks being traded to the Houston Texans.
Gurley averaged three targets-per-game across the team’s final five games of the season. This would put the share at 48 for the season. Let’s sprinkle in a few more for a great receiving back to get Akers to 60 targets.
Say he catches 66-percent of those passes, that puts him around 38 receptions for the season. As Gurley averaged 10.2 yards-per-catch, we’ll use that same number, bringing Akers’ potential receiving yards to 388. We’ll give him a generous four receiving touchdowns.
So with a final projected line of 234 attempts, 889 yards, six touchdowns, 38 receptions, 388 yards and four touchdowns, that puts Akers at 225.7 PPR fantasy points, good enough to be the RB13 a year ago.
The Rams also finished 17th in the league a year ago with 25.1 rushing attempts per game. In 2018, with a healthy Gurley, they ran the ball 29 times-per-game, good enough for sixth most in the league.
Dating back even further to the beginning of the Sean McVay era, the Rams ran the ball 27.6 times-per-game in 2017 or 11th most in the league.
Using Gurley’s usage from a year ago may put Akers’ projected line on the lower end. However, we do need to be weary of Darrell Henderson, who the team traded up to draft in 2019.
Akers is in an ideal situation to succeed without much of a hurdle ahead of him to overcome. I expect him to flirt with top ten fantasy running back numbers for years to come.