Rams RB Cam Akers is overrated
By: Eli Grabanski
In fantasy football, some of the most exciting players to draft are the younger players that could develop into the next big star. They are usually a rookie, a sophomore, or a junior in the NFL that was a high draft pick in their draft class and maybe showed some flashes of greatness in their previous season. But while we like to project nearly every young player for growth, sometimes we get carried away and hype them up to a point where they are no longer a good value. This article will dive into three second year players whose hype trains this offseason have taken them to a draft spot where it will be difficult to live up to the hype.
Writer’s Note: Please keep in mind that these are players I don’t like at their current ADP, not players I don’t like in general. If they slip a bit from their current ADP/rank, they could still be a solid investment.
#1 Cam Akers (RB, Los Angeles Rams)
Cam Akers is getting drafted at his ceiling, especially in PPR leagues. For starters, he was really only fantasy relevant from week 12 on, as he finished as RB42 in standard, RB43 in 0.5 PPR, and RB45 in PPR in total points last year according to Fantasy Pros. In addition, people seem to be overrating how good he was between weeks 12-17 of the regular season when he took over the lead role, as he was RB15 in standard, RB17 in 0.5PPR, and RB18 in PPR.
Secondly, fantasy players seem to be underrating how many carries Darrell Henderson may see because they see Cam Akers as ‘Todd Gurley 2.0’. According to Pro Football Reference, Darrell Henderson had the most rushing broken tackles on the team last year with 8 (138 carries) while Cam Akers had 6 (145 carries), and Malcolm Brown had 7 (101 carries). In addition, Henderson posted a 80.4 PFF grade last year which is above-average. This was higher the fellow RB Cam Akers (68.4 PFF grade) and his talent should allow him to maintain some kind of role in the Rams offense in 2021. It’s not as close to a guarantee that Akers is going to be the bell-cow on the ground as the ADP would suggest and that makes it a little more dangerous to invest in Akers.
Thirdly, Cam Akers has yet to show any real pass-catching upside. In 13 games last year, Cam Akers had just 11 receptions on 14 targets for 123 receiving yards and a receiving touchdown. He also posted a very high drop rate of 7.1% and had just 2.5% of his team’s targets, both of which were below average for a running back. These questions about his pass-catching ability and usage relative to other top RBs makes it a lot more difficult to invest in him in PPR leagues.
#2 J.K. Dobbins (RB, Baltimore Ravens)
J.K. Dobbins is a talented runner which is why many are tempted to draft him where he’s going right now, but he’s got some other flaws in his fantasy profile that could make him a bad investment – particularly in PPR leagues. For starters, Dobbins has some solid competition for carries on the ground as Gus Edwards carried the ball 144 times last year and was fairly efficient with his carries averaging 5.0 YPC. In addition, the Ravens have the best running quarterback in the league in Lamar Jackson, who took 159 carries for 1005 rushing yards and 7 rushing touchdowns a year ago. Both of those guys will not just disappear and will warrant their fair share of carries.
Besides competition for carries on the ground, J.K. Dobbins also has major concerns with his receiving workload. Historically, Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman has barely featured his running backs in the passing game. Over the course of his 114 game career as an offensive coordinator, Greg Roman has given his tailbacks just 3.35 targets per game, the lowest mark among active NFL play-callers.
Considering the Ravens gave their halfbacks just 50 targets last year, it’s unlikely this changes in 2021 much. With the overall RB receiving pie in Baltimore being much smaller than every other offense in the NFL, it makes it more difficult for Dobbins to be a success in PPR leagues.
And besides the overall receiving workload being small, J.K. Dobbins posted a drop rate of 16.7% last year, one of the worst marks in the NFL among running backs. There is little to no receiving upside in J.K. Dobbins compared to other backs going in his draft range, which puts a ton of pressure on him to produce on the ground. Because of this, Dobbins may have a difficult time performing up to his ADP in 2021.
#3 Joe Burrow (QB, Cincinnati Bengals)
FantasyPros ECR: QB13
Joe Burrow is a guy that I only feel is slightly (a couple of spots) overvalued, but we will nonetheless include him on this list. The first major concern is that he is coming off of a major knee injury (ACL & LCL tear) which means that he may need some time to feel comfortable behind center. The second concern for Burrow is that he struggled a bit throwing the deep ball last year and went “7/34 on passes that have traveled at least 20 yards beyond the line of scrimmage” through the first eight games of the season last year. If he can’t hit the deep ball, it will be more difficult for Burrow to put up great passing numbers unless he sees ridiculous passing volume. The third concern for Burrow it that he completed just 37.3% of his passes when facing pressure in the pocket, which was the second-lowest mark in the NFL. Considering he faced pressure on 32.3% of his dropbacks last year and the offensive line is projected to be mediocre at best, this is a major concern. Combine these three factors with only mediocre rushing ability and it seems like Burrow may be a tad overvalued for the 2021 season.
Follow Eli Grabanski on Twitter: @3li_handles