NFL training camps have technically started, which means football is back!
Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for the first crushing injury to happen, which headlines this week’s fantasy football notebook.
Cam Akers suffers a torn Achilles tendon (Source: Tom Pelissero, NFL Network)
This past Tuesday, it was announced that Los Angeles Rams running back Cam Akers suffered a torn Achilles tendon while training. This injury will keep the RB out for the entire 2021 season, while also putting his future in jeopardy.
The list above shows how unsuccessful recent players at the position have been in coming back from this injury. One thing worth noting, however, is Akers is clearly the best from this bunch and the latest, too. Medicine and rehabilitation is constantly changing, which means Akers will likely undergo a different recovery regiment than players who suffered similar injuries nearly a decade ago. It’ll also be worth monitoring Marlon Mack this season, seeing how he recovers from suffering the same injury just last season.
Akers’ injury creates an opening for Darrell Henderson. The 23-year-old immediately becomes a top-20 option at RB, given his successful 4.5-yards-per-carry mark from last season in addition to his 83.5-pass-blocking grade according to Pro Football Focus, which placed him third amongst all tailbacks. As of now, he’ll serve as the team’s No. 1, but exercise some caution as there’s still lots of time for Los Angeles to swing a deal for another halfback.
Xavier Jones and Jake Funk are next on the depth chart, with my preference being Jones. These two will only make their way into fantasy lineups if Henderson suffers an injury and the squad doesn’t add anyone else.
Amari Cooper to open up training camp on the PUP list (Source: Todd Archer, ESPN)
Earlier this offseason, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper underwent a procedure on his ankle that has held him out of mini camp and offseason training activities. It’s now been reported that Cooper will be sidelined at the opening of training camp for the Cowboys because of the surgery.
The news is obviously not great for Cooper and it’s worth monitoring his recovery throughout training camp. His absence will allot more first-team reps to CeeDee Lamb,Michael Gallup and Cedrick Wilson, which isn’t a bad thing for any of them. Because Cooper is missing time due to a surgical procedure, it’s not a matter of him worrying about coming back and re-injuring himself, rather a matter of him feeling comfortable.
Rhamondre Stevenson placed on non-foootball injury list (Source: Doug Kyed, PFF)
One of the players who was gaining a lot of steam this offseason, Rhamondre Stevenson was placed on the NFI list. This makes him ineligible to practice and participate in any games during the preseason. This news is a major boost for Sony Michel, who’s chances of claiming a roster spot increased significantly.
It’s also very good news for Damien Harris, who has all but cemented himself as the New England Patriots’ early-down running back. Receiving back James White is still around, and while he’ll likely limit Harris’ upside, there’s still lots of value to be had in selecting Harris at his current ADP. He’s being selected around pick 90 in Yahoo fantasy football drafts.
A ‘great chance’ Zach Ertz starts the season with the Philadelphia Eagles (Source: Howard Eskin, FOX 29)
Despite it seeming inevitable earlier in the offseason that tight end Zach Ertz would be dealt, it now appears the team will hang onto the veteran after likely not receiving what they expected was fair compensation on the trade market. Ertz had a horrible year in 2020, securing just 36 of his 72 targets for 335 receiving yards and one touchdown. His campaign was hampered due to an ankle injury, which could be the main reason why the 30-year-old struggled.
Ertz sticking around is clearly bad news for Dallas Goedert, as many expected him to be thrusted into the undisputed No. 1 TE slot on the team. I still expect Goedert to be deployed as the team’s top option at the position, but Ertz sticking around creates a little more target competition. He’s still locked into the top-8 at TE, while Ertz can be passed on in most drafts.
Packers running backs coach Ben Sirmans said team will lean on AJ Dillon “a lot more this year.” (Source: Jason Wilde, Wisconsin State Journal)
This isn’t too surprising of a statement after the Green Bay Packers moved on from Jamaal Williams this offseason. Williams appeared on 40-percent of the squad’s offensive snaps last year while AJ Dillon played just nine-percent.
Both his snaps and touches will spike in 2021, as he saw just 48 touches last season. Dillon likely won’t cut too much into lead back Aaron Jones’ workload as he just received a nice four year, $48,000,000 contract this offseason. Dillon still profiles as a RB3 while Jones will remain a low-end RB1.