The Los Angeles Rams are a chic pick to win Super Bowl 56 in their own stadium next February after the offseason trade for Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, but the Rams suddenly have a gaping hole in the backfield amidst reports that 2020 leading rusher Cam Akers suffered a season-ending torn Achilles' tendon while training. That obviously has huge Fantasy Football ramifications as well. Might the Rams look to free-agent running back Le'Veon Bell to fill the void? Or even Todd Gurley? L.A. has a win total of 9.5 at William Hill Sportsbook. The SportsLine Projection Model has the Rams dropping from 9.8 wins to 9.3 sans Akers (see bottom).
Akers was a second-round pick in the 2020 draft out of Florida State. The bruiser shared carries for a large chunk of the season, but clearly took over as the main guy at the end, averaging 21.5 carries in his final four regular-season games. Overall in 13 games, he finished with 145 carries for 625 yards and two scores while catching 11 passes for 123 yards and a TD.
Akers was a beast in the wild-card round upset of Seattle with 28 carries for 131 yards and a TD and two catches for 45 yards. In the divisional round loss to Green Bay, he rushed 18 times for 90 yards and a TD and caught one pass for six yards.
Last month, Coach Sean McVay said there are no "limitations" on how the team could use Akers: "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."
Pro Football Focus forecasted Akers with 1,400.5 rushing and receiving combined yards in 2021. A William Hill spokesperson when asked if the Akers injury would affect any Rams futures said: "Not planning on a move unless market dictates it."
The Rams lost Malcolm Brown in free agency to the Miami Dolphins this offseason, so that leaves Darrell Henderson Jr. as the presumed featured back unless the Rams do go chase someone like Bell. Henderson, a 2019 third-round pick, had 138 carries for 624 yards and five scores last year. After suffering a high-ankle sprain in Week 16, Henderson missed the regular-season finale and the playoffs.
Bell, Gurley, Devonta Freeman, Adrian Peterson, Duke Johnson, Frank Gore and LeSean McCoy are some big-name free-agent running backs available ... but all past their prime.
There's likely zero chance the Rams would bring Gurley back the way things ended before the 2020 season with his release. Bell played in nine games for Kansas City last year and had 63 carries for 254 yards and two scores while catching 13 passes for 99 yards. As recently as 2017, the now 29-year-old put together an All-Pro season.
|w/ Cam Akers||9.8||57.60%||30.00%||64.60%||12.10%||6.00%|
|w/o Cam Akers||9.3||54.70%||22.60%||53.90%||7.70%||3.30%|
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