The Running Back That's Going to Win Fantasy Football Leagues in 2021
Cam Akers - Los Angeles Rams
RB8 || 10.4
You have no room for error with Cam Akers this year. None. You're spending your first round pick on him, or you're not getting him. It's an interesting proposition.
It took Akers forever to get off the ground in 2020, partly because of injuries, partly because of whatever, weird timeshares, Malcolm Brown, dumb shit. But over the last 6 games of the Rams season, Akers went dumb. His volume went higher than Vince Wilfork at Whattaburger
Starting in Week 13 through their two playoff games, Akers' per game numbers:
118 yards/game = 1888 total yards on the season, or I guess over 2000 in a 17-game season.
What's changed in LA in this year:
- Malcolm Brown is gone. That's important. Really important. Because Malcolm Brown led the backfield in targets (32), receptions and receiving yards. He got 101 carries. 19 of those were RZ carries. 9 of them were GL carries. There are so many valuable touches to be had by Akers this year.
- The other obvious here is Matthew Stafford coming to town. Huge for the offense. Huge for the receiving numbers by the running backs. Stafford sneaky loves throwing to RBs. We always talk about guys like Rivers and Brees dumping off, Stafford has had his RBs put up some real gauty receiving numbers. Swift was on pace to see nearly 70 targets last year. IN 2018 (Stafford's last full year), Detroits backs combined to see 140 targets. And then it's basically the Theo Riddick ear, 2017 he had 85 targets, 2016 he had 92 in just 10 games. The targets are going to be there for this backfield.
- When Gurley was winning fantasy leagues which seems like two decades ago at this point, he was seeing like 90 targets/season.
Will there be a bit of a split between him and Darrel Henderson, minorly, but to be honest I was way more worried of Malcolm Brown because he was more likely to take the GL work and be the guy that McVay like trusts and keeps him in for way too long, and put him in on 3rd downs bc he trusts him to block, just dumb shit like that.
The other big area to note here is that LA's offensive line was awesome last year. They ranked 4th in run-blocking per PFF, right behind Indy. And check this out, bc Goff was their QB, teams were stacking the box against Akers:
They ain't doing that shit against Stafford.
The way I see it. Akers has a very, very real chance, not a likely, but real chance of finishing the year as the overall RB1 in fantasy. His upside is very real. If he drops to you in the 2nd round, he's an easy smash and tbh I think it will happen in a lot of normal leagues. I've said many times, Underdog's ADP is the sharpest in the industry by far, so Akers is going to go a bit higher here than in most spots.
The only way I see a monster Cam Akers season not happening is by injury or McVay being an idiot, but based on the home stretch last year, the volume for Akers is going to be scary high.
CeeDee Lamb - Dallas Cowboys
ADP: WR14 || 37
Lamb just the absolute goat. He was basically last year's Ja'Marr Chase. Where he was tier 1 of WR in rookie drafts.
You'd have the occasional Jerry Jeudy is amazing on film fanatic, which is what we're getting with DeVonta Smith this time around. Same story different lamb.
Lamb was awesome as a rookie. Especially with Dak under center.
That shit was REAL.
On pace for 125-93-1386-6.5
He had at least 59 yards in all five games with Dak. After he was gone, he went over 59 yards in just 3-of-11 games.
There's not much to say about Lamb that we didn't already know. He's awesome.
The way he was used was interesting:
He was solely a slot WR. Had the second most slot snaps (621) in the entire NFL last year. Only Anthony Miller had a higher slot rate than Lamb's 93.2%.
The also used him in the screen game a ton. He had 16 screen targets, tied for 8th most in the NFL.
The targets Lamb is getting at high volume, from the slot & on screens are just easy fantasy points.
The offense will be the same, with Dak healthy, Cooper and Gallup both byke.
Lamb's price is REALLY HIGH already. It's one of those situations, where everyone wants to be ahead of the curve. The market clearly would rather be early than late on Lamb. Cooper is the WR11 right now, at pick 34, so 3 spots ahead of Lamb. When you look at the first 5 games of the year in 2020, Lamb vs. Cooper
Lamb actually edges out Cooper by a few fantasy points, but in a 5-game sample size, like one focus drop is the difference here between WR13 and WR11, but the opportunity difference is pretty noticeable. 53 targets vs. 39 targets. I think Cooper and Dak just have great chemistry, ever since Cooper moved over from the Raiders. I think he'll continue to be the number one and I'd draft him ahead of Lamb.
That being said, if you have the 3/4 turn pick, the stack wouldn't be terrible at all. They're the focus of a passing game that was on pace to throw for like 6500 yards when Dak was healthy, who is extremely high-paced and will produce a ton of fantasy points in a division that's going to see a lot of shootouts - Philly and NYG both improved their offenses dramatically, DAL and PHI will both have their offensive lines byke and keeping things moving.
I'm not sure if this is a popular take or a bad one, but straight up I'd take Cooper over Lamb in drafts right now (I guess it's popular seeing as how the ADP says the same thing). Maybe in full PPR I'd lean Lamb bc I think those easy targets are going to keep being fed to him. Overall, Lamb isn't a guy I'm going to be targeting everywhere at his ADP, but he's definitely someone I'd like to have shares of.