The Cam Akers Dilemma

by | Jul 24, 2021

This is the tweet. This is the moment we got our first major injury to a key player for the 2021 season and beyond.

history of Achilles Injuries

Everything went straight into chaos, especially when looking at how successful Achilles injuries have been in destroying players’ professional careers. When looking specifically at running backs who have sustained similar injuries, the list is grim and provides a bleak outlook. Notable names include Arian Foster, LenDale White, Andre Brown, Marlon Mack, and Isaiah Crowell.

Results posted in an article written by Selene Parekh and Jay Shah titled: Epidemiology and Outcomes of Achilles Tendon Ruptures in the National Football League showed that of 78 Achilles tendon injuries from 2010-2015, 26-percent of the players (20 players) failed to ever return to play for the NFL again. Of more concern, of all positions, those players saw a “net decrease in power ratings by 22-percent,” and over three years, those players saw a net decrease of 23-percent. The fear many harbor is best summarized with this:

“Across all positions, running backs saw the biggest decrease in production with a 78-percent decrease over 3 years post-injury in both power ratings and approximate value.”

This article was written in 2017, nearly five years ago. Which is important because the advancements in the medical community are continually evolving. This results in much better and quicker recovery for players. An ACL injury was once viewed similarly to how the community views an Achilles injury, a death knell. Now it is no longer a career-ending injury, and many players are able to return to previous form. The biggest difference is that an Achilles is an injury to the tendon, which has a dramatically different function than a ligament.

The Value

Cam Akers is currently seeing his value plummet, and rightfully so. He was unable to showcase his true skillset for a sustained amount of time due to the adversities he had faced. Which is why the fantasy football trend is to sell him. That is a mistake. Selling Akers right now is intentionally setting value on fire and feeling good about it. Now a lost commodity in any seasonal leagues in 2021, this is how I’m approaching him in dynasty.

My approach

Ironically, Cam Akers will see his fantasy football value semi-depend upon Marlon Mack; his Best Comparable Player per PlayerProfiler. Mack suffering from the exact same injury will be used as a guiding path. This corresponds directly with Akers’ projected value moving forward.

Training camp won’t yield any results in any value fluctuation, but preseason games will have a dramatic impact. This, for me, is the first ‘selling’ window. The more Mack exceeds expectations, the more Akers’ value will grow. For a competing team, this the best opportunity to sell him for a player that can be used to bolster your team for a title run.

The second selling window is during the season, which relies upon Darrell Henderson. If he struggles to grasp the assumed workload role that many project for him, Akers once again will see a value bump. Specifically since this injury will create less of a clear path for him to gain the workhorse opportunity. If Mack disappoints and Henderson does even a mediocre job as the lead back, Akers is better parked on your IR for this year.

The managers that are in the midst of a rebuild have two options. The first is capitalizing on a manager who is in full-blown panic mode. Until training camp starts, the Akers managers will panic and try to find a way to replace their once steadfast running back with any meaningful point replacement. The second opportunity is to use the first two weeks of the season to utilize a running back on a shorter leash (think Raheem Mostert) and trade him for Akers. Though you will likely need to add a rookie draft pick, more likely a second rounder.

in closing

Ultimately with Cam Akers, I believe we are going to see a Jekyll and Hyde three-year outlook. I am expecting him to obviously be below his pre-injury form for the 2022 season. If he can get through the 2022 season without any major injuries, it should set him up nicely for a bounceback 2023 campaign. I find myself willing to sell him, but not seeking a trade to get rid of him. After all, he is only 22 years old. Which means his 2023 season aligns with his age-24 season; the same one that happens to be when a running back is at his peak.

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