The Los Angeles Rams delivered one of the more complete performances on wild-card weekend by thoroughly dominating their division rival Arizona Cardinals to the tune of 34-11 at the rambunctious and fan-filled SoFi Stadium. Los Angeles' thumping over the Cardinals catapults them to a divisional round showdown with Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Several Rams performers made an astounding impact throughout the contest. Starting quarterback Matthew Stafford appeared poised and ready for the postseason by completing 13-of-17 passing attempts for 202 yards and two touchdowns. Stafford had little to do in the face of Los Angeles' dominance but was still extremely sharp, accurate, and accountable when needed most. Mid-season acquisition Odell Beckham Jr. caught his first playoff touchdown on a lovely leaping grab in the left corner of the end zone over Cardinals cornerback Marco Wilson. Fellow veteran addition Von Miller recorded a sack and showed why general manager Les Snead went out of his way to acquire him in hopes of receiving a postseason boost. Aaron Donald was his usual unblockable self, having impacted the pocket on what felt like a snap-by-snap basis. None of these Rams players delivered a more heartwarming performance and story than running back Cam Akers, though. Akers triumphantly and shockingly returned to the field a week ago in a limited role in Los Angeles' regular-season finale against the San Francisco 49ers. Akers was somehow a full-go throughout Monday's drubbing over the Cardinals despite suffering an extremely excruciating Achilles tear injury just five-and-a-half months ago. Akers handled the ball 17 times and added an explosive play via a 40-yard reception. It’s unfathomable and represents an unbelievable timeline and swift return to play for one of the most promising young ball-carriers in the league. Akers' dedication to the rehabilitation process showcases terrific strength as he returns to form in time for Los Angeles' postseason run. The situation is setting up for a heavier workload for Akers in 2022, who should be a relatively early draft selection in fantasy leagues this coming summer. Akers should absolutely be drafted in your fantasy league before any incoming rookie running back. https://twitter.com/raygque/status/1483287469860741121?s=21 Fortunately for all involved, we don't have to travel far back in time in order to understand what Akers is capable of producing when given a clean bill of health, which he has now thankfully received. The former second-round selection out of Florida State flashed brilliant ability throughout a 2020 rookie campaign that saw him accumulate 625 yards and two touchdowns via the ground, plus 123 receiving yards and an additional touchdown as a pass-catcher. Akers was undeniably set to take on a lead role in Los Angeles' 2021 backfield before suffering the Achilles injury in late July. Should Akers carry the load for the Rams in 2022, and we currently have plenty of reason to believe he will, he'll feature in an exciting offense that possesses the weapons necessary to keep opposing defenses on their toes. It's a situation that sets up beautifully for Akers to showcase his versatility and dynamic skill set. Fellow running back Sony Michel is set to reach free agency and is largely expected to land a more lucrative deal elsewhere after reviving his career in 2021. The presence of Darrell Henderson Jr. complicates things slightly, but Akers has been a far more productive back when on the field and had a leg up on Henderson for the starting role entering training camp. The possibilities are endless for Akers, who possesses far more fantasy upside than what's largely viewed as a weak incoming running back class overall. The return of UCLA's Zach Charbonnet has further diminished an already rather pedestrian class, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see the first round of the 2022 draft conclude without the selection of a single ball-carrier. The situation is fluid and ever-changing, and landing spots matter, but Akers currently has the appearance of a far more promising fantasy draft selection than any rookie running back. Look for Akers to make the most of his opportunities in 2022.
- May 18, 2022
- May 18, 2022