Trying to predict how Sean McVay will use his running backs is always difficult. Since the days of Todd Gurley being the workhorse, the Rams have shuffled the backfield a bit – both out of need (injury) and scheme.
No one could have predicted Week 1 would’ve gone the way it did for Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson Jr., though. Henderson started the game and played every snap in the first quarter. Akers didn’t get his first opportunity since the second quarter, only getting three total carries in the 31-10 loss.
Fantasy owners already began to panic about the fact that Akers was not just the backup, but he barely played; only 12 snaps compared to 55 for Henderson. Then Sean McVay made things even worse for those who have Akers on their fantasy team.
On Friday, McVay subtly put the blame on Akers for his lack of involvement in the opener. He said Akers has to “maximize” his opportunities when he’s on the field, and wants to see “an increased level of urgency and accountability snap in and snap out from him.”
McVay said he still has confidence in Akers that he can be the talented back he’s expected to be, but he must show more urgency. McVay mentioned the need to compete without the ball, which could have to do with pass protection.
“The opportunities were minimal. There were some things that, within each of those individual plays, that I think we can be better collectively starting with me than to the players around him, but also with Cam,” McVay added.
As a fantasy owner, it’s reasonable to be concerned about Akers’ workload and role within the Rams offense. He was being drafted as a top-20 running back in fantasy and was going about seven or eight rounds earlier in drafts.
Now, it appears to be Henderson’s backfield, and if not for Kyren Williams’ injury, Akers’ opportunities might’ve been even tougher to come by. McVay said Friday that Williams’ injury is unfortunate “because we were trying to get Kyren involved and he didn’t even get a chance to be able to do that.”
Hype was quietly building around Williams before kickoff, and it may have been warranted after hearing McVay say they wanted to get him involved.
It’s not time to cut ties with Akers already after just one game, especially knowing Henderson’s injury history and the lack of competition behind the two at running back. Akers can still earn a bigger role and more carries, and perhaps his pseudo-benching in Week 1 will be the needed shock to his system to get him going.
It might not be a bad idea to target Henderson in a trade if you do own Akers, but don’t give up on Cam just yet.