The Rams backfield has the potential to be one of the most valuable in the league for Fantasy Football, as we’ve seen from Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson when they’ve been healthy over the past few seasons. However, Akers and Henderson are both dealing with injuries in training camp, with coach Sean McVay vaguely (ominously?) terming their current issues “soft-tissue stuff” at camp Monday.
“They’re not full-speed,” he added, per The Athletic.” Until they’re full-speed, we’re not going to have them practice.”
It’s worth noting that the Rams famously ask very little of their starters in the preseason, so they’ll probably continue to be very cautious with these kinds of situations. Having them available for Week 1 and beyond is the most important thing.
However, it’s also worth noting the injury history for each. Akers came back from a ruptured Achilles last season and looked like he was a step slow during the playoffs, while Henderson has been injured about as often as he has been available throughout his NFL career. Henderson dealt with a knee injury that landed him toward the end of last season, and he ultimately missed five games during the regular season, though he did play well as the lead back in Akers’ absence before injuries derailed him.
Jake Funk and Kyren Williams have been taking first-team reps in Henderson and Akers’ absence, though it might be fair to assume the Rams would be aggressive in finding another option in the event Akers and/or Henderson were expected to miss some time in the regular season – remember, they traded for Sony Michel late last August to fill out their RB depth chart. Funk and Williams are names to watch for the later rounds of drafts, but as of now, assume Akers and Henderson will be back for Week 1.
One thing that is interesting to note is that, while we’ve been assuming Akers would be the clear lead option, The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue notes that the two have split first-team reps “pretty evenly” during camp. McVay has also said he views both as starters, though that’s probably more coachspeak than anything. Still, it’s worth considering the possibility that Akers may not dominate work the way we’re hoping to see in Los Angeles, and a training camp injury certainly wouldn’t help his chances if it were to linger.
I’m still treating Akers like the lead back, but he’ll need to prove healthy and perform better than he did last postseason when he rushed for just 172 yards on 67 carries (2.6 yards per attempt) with eight catches in four games. Akers has upside, to be sure, but there’s also a chance he just isn’t a particularly good running back after the injury and isn’t worth an every-down role. He’s currently RB15 with a 32.5 ADP since Aug. 1 in NFC leagues, and that price is a bit rich for my taste.
Ken Walker III missed practice Tuesday
Walker is dealing with what Seahawks coach Pete Carroll termed “a little hernia issue.” From having done this job for more than a decade now, Carroll is routinely the most optimistic coach in the league when it comes to how he talks about injuries, so my knee-jerk reaction is to assume this is more than just a minor issue for Walker. That being said, the lack of details at this time means we can’t really do anything here — he’s already being drafted pretty late, as RB35 at 95.4, so I can’t exactly say he needs to be moved down draft boards. I’m taking Rashaad Penny ahead of Walker anyway, and that is going to remain the case in light of this. But this is definitely something to keep an eye on in the coming days, because if Walker has to miss time into the regular season, Penny’s path to 15-plus touches every week is even more clear, and he’ll definitely be in the RB2 discussion.
Zach Wilson should be back in 4-6 weeks
Wilson underwent surgery on his injured right knee, ultimately having his meniscus shaved down, the best-case scenario of the possible outcomes, per reports. That puts Wilson potentially in line to be ready for Week 1, though it’s probably safer to assume he’ll miss some time as the Jets are likely to take a cautious approach. Joe Flacco will fill in for whatever time Wilson misses, and, in all honesty, he might not even be a downgrade for the Jets playmakers – Wilson actually had the worst touchdown rate and yards per attempt of any of the four Jets QBs who played significant snaps last season. Flacco isn’t a world beater, but at the very least, there’s no reason to view him as a downgrade for however long Wilson is out. If anything, he might target the likes of Breece Hall and Michael Carter a bit more than Wilson would.
Michael Thomas will be “ready to go” for Week 1, per coach Dennis Allen
Thomas is still working his way back to full participation, and we don’t expect to see him in the preseason, but it’s good to hear the coach confirm that the team plans to have him available for Week 1 against the Falcons. We really haven’t seen Thomas healthy since 2019, as he suffered an ankle injury in Week 1 of 2020 and missed all of last season as a result of that injury. Of course, the last time we saw him he put up a historic season, setting the single-season record for catches while putting up 149-1,725-9. If he has any semblance of that upside left after the injuries, he’s going to be one of the steals in drafts, but I’ll admit I have a hard time pulling the trigger on his current 61.5 ADP in NFC drafts since Aug. 1. He’s one of the biggest boom-or-bust players in the league right now.
Don’t go firing off that Javonte Williams ADP rocket just yet. It’s possible Gordon’s injury re-occurs and lingers to the point where it makes sense to adjust Williams’ value, but at this point, we have every reason to believe Gordon is going to be just fine for the start of the season. And, while it’s possible Gordon’s role is decreased in favor of Williams, reports out of training camp don’t exactly suggest that has been the case so far. Williams has significant upside in what should be a very good offense, but he’s more like a high-end RB2 as long as Gordon is healthy. Gordon is more like a flex option, though ideally, you’d have him on your bench just in case something happens with Williams that causes Gordon to step into a significant role – he has similar upside to Williams as a lead back.
- Chris Godwin continues to see more activity in practice – Godwin was spotted working in 7-on-7 situations Monday and Tuesday after being limited to individual drills prior to that. He’s still a ways away from being cleared for contact and everything that entails as he continues to work his way back from a torn ACL, which means he’s still in question for Week 1, but any forward momentum is a good sign. He remains worth targeting around the fifth or sixth round, but you’ll probably have to be patient early on as he works his way back to full speed.
- Miles Sanders is dealing with a hamstring injury – It’s not clear when Sanders suffered the injury, as he played in the team’s preseason opener Friday, but this isn’t a great sign given Sanders’ injury history. Hamstring injuries can be tricky, especially at this time of year, so don’t be surprised if he sits out this weekend’s preseason game against the Browns, but hopefully, it won’t impact his availability for Week 1. Sanders still looks like the Eagles RB1, but his grip on the job may not be a firm one, so hopefully, this isn’t a serious issue.
- Kenny Pickett was upgraded to the second team in practice – And he even took some first-team reps during Tuesday’s practice. Mitchell Trubisky has taken nearly all of the first-team reps going back to offseason programs, so this could be a sign that Pickett is pushing. Pickett was impressive in the preseason opener, as The Athletic’s Ted Nguyen noted in his film breakdown column Tuesday. This has looked like a competition in name only for most of camp, but this may be a sign that Pickett is starting to push for an opportunity. Ideally, one of these quarterbacks will actively win the job, rather than just taking it by default, because the Steelers weapons remain quite impressive.
- Rachaad White is returning kickoffs for the Buccaneers – This doesn’t directly matter for Fantasy unless you play in leagues that reward return yards. However, it’s actually a pretty good sign for White’s chances of being active on game days – which obviously increases his chances of having a role from Week 1. He’s a little down on the depth chart right now, but it wouldn’t be a surprise at all if White pushed Giovani Bernard to be the backup, and White’s pass-catching skills could make him a very valuable Fantasy option if he’s playing regularly. He’s worth a late-round flier in Fantasy.
- Kenyan Drake‘s spot on the Raiders may be in doubt – The fact that Ameer Abdullah was inactive along with Josh Jacobs in the second preseason indicates his job as the primary pass-catching back may be safe. That left Drake competing with rookie Zamir White to be the No. 3 back and Jacobs’ direct backup. White remains one of my favorite deep sleepers.
- Zack Moss “has only strengthened his case to be a game-day active” – This could all just be camp talk, but the buzz around Moss has been consistent from Day One, and he’s been getting first-team reps. If Moss plays even a small role on game days, that would make it very hard for either Devin Singletary or James Cook to be Fantasy viable, because this hasn’t been a particularly good offense for RB production – in fact, over the three years Josh Allen has been the starter, it has been the worst in the NFL. A three-way split would render all three unusable.