What to do in drafts if you have already taken Cam Akers


Every season we are dealt harsh reminders of how much injuries play a part of the NFL and the fantasy football landscape. Today, on the precipice of training camps opening, the news of Cam Akers suffering a torn Achilles broke. 

While fantasy gamers have time to adjust and analyze this devastating news, if you’re in the midst of a slow draft on Underdog Fantasy, you’re reacting on the fly. What do I do at the running back position now? Where is Darrell Henderson ranked in Best Ball? All of these questions begin to swirl as you’re on the clock. 

Let’s discuss how to approach this news moving forward. 

While you are here, check out Jeff Ratcliffe’s fantasy football rankings tiers.

Los Angeles Rams Running Backs

After the Cam Akers news has flooded the timeline, we need to break down the running backs on this depth chart, their skill sets, and what their fantasy football outlooks could be for 2021. 

Draft Darrell Henderson in Fantasy Football

Darrell Henderson will be the first name that everyone will gravitate to in this backfield. Henderson was the Rams early-down option when Akers was sidelined last year (Weeks 3-4) and limited after his return (less than 20% snaps Weeks 5-7). He averaged 14.4 rushing attempts in those five games, 64.8 rushing yards and two targets per game as the RB27 in fantasy points per game. Henderson was uninspiring last season overall as a pure rusher, ranking 39th (out of 63 running backs with 75 or more rushing attempts) in yards after contact per attempt (2.70) immediately behind Leonard Fournette.

Henderson did, however, show improvement during his five-game stretch as the Rams’ starter. In that small sample, he displayed the ability to acclimate to the Los Angeles zone scheme that he struggled with to begin his career. In Weeks 3-7, 68.0% of his carries were on zone runs, and he ranked second to only Dalvin Cook in 10-plus-yard runs (12). Henderson’s stock will zoom from its current position (RB42, 127.1 overall) on Underdog Fantasy. If you’re in a slow draft currently and have selected Akers, it’s possible Henderson is already gone or will be before you’re back on the clock. Either way, it’s not worth chasing him in an attempt to make up for the lost equity. Focus on strengthening other areas of your team and take a shot on the next player to be discussed in your final rounds.

Stash Xavier Jones in Fantasy Football 

Looking over the Rams’ depth chart, the next question for fantasy football is who is Xavier Jones?

Jones arrived in Los Angeles as an undrafted free agent after a productive career at SMU. At 5-foot-11 and 208 pounds, he possesses the requisite size we look for in a running back. During his rookie season, outside of one carry, Jones played on special teams full time. During his five-year career at SMU, he eclipsed 1,000 yards rushing twice, including 1,276 in his final season. He also flashed a three-down skillset with seasons of 28 and 20 receptions. Jones was above average in explosive metrics in his last season at SMU, ranking 87th (out of 219 running backs with 75 or more rushing attempts) with 3.37 yards after contact per attempt. While he displayed soft hands in college (76.8% catch rate on 95 targets), his 0.80 yards per route run doesn’t jump off the page. His solid skillset and pass blocking resume (two sacks and eight hurries across 278 pass-blocking snaps at SMU) could allow him to earn snaps in this backfield. He’s worth taking the shot on as a late flier in best ball if you’re early in your slow draft or attempting to bandage an early Akers pick with a late-round win rate hammer. 

Avoid other Rams running backs in fantasy football

The rest of the Rams depth chart is filled with Raymond Calais, Jake Funk and Otis Anderson. Calais is a 5-foot-8, 177-pound sparkplug rusher from Louisiana Lafayette. Calais spent his rookie season playing special teams and returning kicks. Because of his size, it’s unlikely he’s our answer if searching for options to target from this backfield. In 2019, he finished 88th in yards after contact per attempt, immediately behind Jones, so any edge on explosive abilities is probably overstated. He’s likely to reprise his role as a returner for the Rams. 

Jake Funk arrives via the seventh round in this year’s NFL Draft. Despite the size (5-foot-10, 204 pounds), Funk’s college resume doesn’t scream breakout player. During five seasons at Maryland, he only earned a total of 136 carries and churned out 3.03 yards after contact per attempt. With his 40.4% gap carry total in college and his 0.81 yards per route run, he’s more likely to assume Jones’ role on special teams than push for work in this backfield. 

Otis Anderson is the dollar store version of Calais. Anderson stands at 5-foot-8 and 179 pounds. After wrapping up a career at UCF with a 12th percentile college dominator and 57th percentile college target share, he’ll be lucky to stick on the final roster. 

Could Todd Gurley return to the Rams?

While we never want to say never, this is probably not going to happen. Pencil in any over the hill running back here. Todd Gurley, LeSean McCoy and Le’Veon Bell are all names you’ll probably see floated out on social media as galaxy-brained low-hanging fruit. The likelihood of the Rams sapping explosiveness from their offense with an addition of this yawn-provoking level isn’t likely to happen. Don’t attempt to play this dusty game of roulette with the final picks of an already ailing best ball roster. 

Final fantasy football verdict

If you sunk an early-round pick for your slow draft roster into Cam Akers, the roster is going to need help to make up for the lost draft equity. That’s likely not going to be accomplished by chasing Darrell Henderson. The “adjust and pray you overcome this” maneuver is to still invest in stacks and other positions that will make your starting lineup weekly. Drafting wide receivers and investing in stack equity for added upside and correlation is the move. Adding another running back late as a dart from this backfield or another “one injury away” type could also work, so if you were planning on drafting five running backs, bumping that to six now is viable. 

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