As we’ve seen with Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson staying healthy the past few seasons, the Rams’ backfield has the potential to be one of the most valuable in the league in fantasy football. However, Acker and Henderson are both dealing with injuries in training camp, with coach Sean McVay vaguely (inexplicably?) referring to their offseason issues as “soft-tissue stuff” during camp Monday.
“They’re not full-speed,” added The Athletic.
It’s worth noting that the Rams ask very little of their starters during the preseason, so they’ll probably continue to be very cautious in such situations. The most important thing is to make them available for the 1st week and beyond.
However, each person’s injury history is worth noting. Akers appears to be a step late in his return from a torn Achilles last season, while Henderson has been injured several times in his NFL career. Henderson suffered a knee injury late last season and ended up missing five games in the regular season, though he played well in Akers’ absence for the home team before the injuries got in the way.
Jake Funk and Kieren Williams have been taking first-team reps in the absence of Henderson and Akers, though it’s fair to assume the Rams will be aggressive in finding another option in the event Acker and/or Henderson are expected to miss some time. Regular Season – Remember, they traded for Sony Michel at the end of last August to fill out their RB depth chart. Funk and Williams are names to watch in the later rounds of the draft, but for now, think Acker and Henderson will be back for Week 1.
One thing to note, while we think Acker will be the obvious leadoff choice, is that the Athletic’s Jordan Rodriguez split the two first-team reps “very evenly” during camp. McVay said he views both as starters, though that may be more coaching talk than anything else. Still, it’s worth considering the possibility that Acker won’t dominate his career in the way we expect to see in Los Angeles, and an injury delay in training camp won’t help his chances.
I still have Acker as the leader back, but he needs to get healthy and perform better than he did last season when he had eight catches on 67 carries (2.6 yards per attempt) in four games. Akers has upside, sure, but there’s a chance he just isn’t a particularly good running back after an injury and isn’t worth an every-down role. He’s currently the RB15th in NFC leagues since August 1st with a 32.5 ADP, and the price is a little rich for my taste.
Ken Walker III missed practice on Tuesday.
Walker is dealing with what Seahawks coach Pete Carroll described as a “minor hernia problem.” Having done this job for more than a decade, Carroll is routinely the most optimistic coach in the league when it comes to how to talk about injuries, so my gut reaction is to assume this is more than a simple matter. Walker. That being said, the lack of details at this point means there’s not much we can do here – he’s already being drafted too late, as RB35 at 95.4, so I can’t say exactly why he should go down draft boards. Anyway, I’d put Rashaad Penny ahead of Walker, and that will continue to be the case from that point of view. But this is definitely something to keep an eye on in the coming days, because Penny’s path to 15-plus touches every week if Walker misses time into the regular season is clearer, and he’ll definitely be in the RB2 conversation.
Zach Wilson should be back in 4-6 weeks.
Wilson underwent surgery on his injured right knee and eventually had the meniscus removed, the best possible outcome, according to reports. That would make Wilson ready for Week 1, though it’s safer to assume he’ll miss some time as the Jets may take a cautious approach. Joe Flacco will fill in for any time Wilson misses, and in fact, it may not be that low of a Jets quarterback — Wilson actually had the worst touchdown rate and yards per attempt of any of the four Jets QBs who played significantly. The previous season appeared. Flacco isn’t a world beater, but at the very least, there’s no reason to look down on him even if Wilson is gone. If anything, he might target the likes of Brace Hall and Michael Carter even less than Wilson.
Michael Thomas will be “ready to go” for Week 1 by coach Dennis Allen.
Thomas is still working his way back to full participation, so we don’t expect to see him in the preseason, but it’s good to hear that the coach is planning for Week 1 against the Falcons. We haven’t seen Thomas healthy since 2019, as he suffered an ankle injury in Week 1 of 2020 and missed all of last season due to that injury. Of course, the last time we saw him, he posted a historic 149-1,725-9 single-season hitting streak. If he has any form of that upside after the injury, he’ll be one of the steals in the draft, but I’ll admit I’d be hard-pressed to pull the trigger on NFC draft picks at his current 61.5 ADP since August 1st. He is one of the biggest players in the league right now.
Melvin Gordon returned to full participation on Monday
Don’t shoot that Javonte Williams ADP rocket just yet. Gordon’s injury could happen again and delay Williams’ worth to the point where he can adjust, but at this point we have every reason to believe Gordon will be good for the start of the season. And, while Gordon’s role has been reduced for Williams, reports from training camp so far don’t exactly indicate that. Williams has significant upside in what could be a very good offense, but as long as Gordon is healthy, he’s a top-RB2. Gordon is a flexible option, although ideally, you’d have him on your bench if something happens to Williams that forces Gordon into a bigger role.
Chris Godwin continues to see more action in practice – Godwin was seen working in 7-on-7 situations on Monday and Tuesday after being limited to individual drills before that. As he continues to bounce back from a torn ACL, it’s a long way from being cleared for contact and all that entails, which means he’s still in question for Week 1, but any momentum going forward is a good sign. He remains worth targeting in the fifth or sixth round, but you’ll need to be patient early on as he works his way back to full speed. Miles Sanders is dealing with a hamstring injury – It’s unclear when Sanders suffered the injury, he played in the team’s preseason opener Friday, but that’s not a good sign considering Sanders’ injury history. Hamstring injuries can be serious, especially 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 affect his availability for Week 1. Sanders still looks like the Eagles RB1, but the catch is on the job. It may not be strong, and hopefully, that’s not a concern. Kenny Pickett was promoted to the second team in practice — and took some first-team reps in Tuesday’s practice as well. Mitchell Trubisky will return almost all of his first-team reps to offseason programs, so this could be a sign that Pickett is moving on. The Athletic’s Ted Nguyen noted in his film breakdown column Tuesday that Pickett was impressive in his preseason opener. This appears to be a contest in name only for most camps, but this could be a sign that Pickett is starting to push for a chance. Ideally, one of these quarterbacks will actively win the job instead of taking it by default, because the Steelers’ tools are impressive. Rashad White is returning punts for the Buccaneers – unless they play in leagues that reward punt returns, this doesn’t directly matter to fantasy. However, it’s a very good sign that White will be active on game days — which obviously increases his chances of playing a role starting in Week 1. He’s down a bit on the depth chart right now, but it wouldn’t be a surprise. Either way, if White pushes Giovani Bernard as the backup and White’s passing ability plays regularly, he could make him a very valuable fantasy option. He’s worth a late-round flyer in fantasy. Kenyan Drake’s spot on the Raiders could be in doubt – Ameer Abdullah’s second preseason layoff with Josh Jacobs indicating his job as a reliable primary pass-catcher. That puts Drake in competition with rookie Zamir White to be the No. 3 back and Jacobs’ direct backup. White remains one of my favorite deep sleepers. Zach Moss “just made the case to be active come game day” – This may all just be camp talk, but the buzz around Moss has been consistent from day one, and he’s getting first-team reps. If Moss plays a smaller role on game days, that makes it very difficult for either Devin Singletary or James Cook to be fantasy viable, as this hasn’t been a particularly good offense for RB production — in fact, in three years. Josh Allen became a rookie, he was the worst in the NFL. Dividing it three ways makes all three useless.