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Cam Akers, Damien Harris on Fantasy Buy and Sell Value Running Backs List

Plus, Chase Edmonds could make a splash in 2022 with the Dolphins.

Before the NFL draft later this month and the rookie class that comes with it, I feel it’s important to attune your mind to player values ahead of redraft season or by tweaking your dynasty rosters via trade—in the same way front offices and general managers around the league prep their rosters. Not only establishing an internal positional set of rankings, but also how your opinions are different from a sort of broader general consensus.

Buy & Sell: Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Wide Receivers | Tight Ends

cam akers

RB Buy

Cam AkersLos Angeles Rams

Last January, I predicted Akers would be a top-three fantasy running back. It didn’t quite play out that way as a torn Achilles abruptly ended his season before the start of training camp. However, I once again believe Akers is primed for a dominant fantasy season.

In his absence last season, Sony Michel and Darrell Henderson Jr. combined for 257 carries for 1,533 yards with 50 receptions for 304 yards and 14 total touchdowns. Michel is a free agent; assuming he isn’t brought back, that opens up 208 carries and 33 targets. We’re now one torn Achilles away from where we were ahead of the 2021 season—Akers RB1, Henderson RB2.

The offensive line needs help—including, but not limited to the retirement of left tackle Andrew Whitworth—and the Rams are without a pick until Round 3 (104th overall). But let’s put it this way: Is anybody pumping the brakes on the Rams' top guys like Cooper Kupp or Matthew Stafford in fantasy because they’re a little thin on the offensive line? Akers is on track for a full, healthy offseason as the backfield centerpiece in one of the best offenses in the NFL. Now ranked the consensus RB13, I’m willing to move him up at least a few spots on my rankings, plus his upside is much higher.

Chase EdmondsMiami Dolphins

Now entering his fifth season, Edmonds will have a new opportunity with the Dolphins. I’ll be honest—I’ve been waiting for this guy to break out since he entered the league back in 2018. Every year, I go back to the well despite the fact he’s never rushed for more than 600 yards or had more than 120 carries in a season and never scored more than five touchdowns in a season.

I may have moved off of him if he had stayed in Arizona, but if he’s good enough for new Miami head coach Mike McDaniel, he’s good enough for me in 2022. Given a full healthy season, he could easily catch 70 passes for 500 yards and a handful of touchdowns to pair with 150 carries for 700 yards.

You may be wondering, “Well what about Raheem Mostert and Myles Gaskin?” It’s a valid concern, although Mostert appears to be this backfield’s main competition. Given Edmonds’s RB29 ranking, there’s room for growth and a ton of volume at play. There’s a lot of speed in this offense now with Tyreek Hill joining Jaylen Waddle—and Edmonds can just as easily take a dump-off pass to the house. Strong PPR performers have a strong scoring floor and I’d be ecstatic to have Edmonds as an RB3 or RB4 on my fantasy bench should I go RB heavy.

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Oct 31, 2021; Inglewood, California, USA; New England Patriots running back Damien Harris (37) carries the ball against the Los Angeles Chargers in the second half at SoFi Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Chargers 27-24. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

RB Sell

Damien HarrisNew England Patriots

I considered Harris a sleeper last fantasy draft season. He exceeded my expectations because he found paydirt 15 times in 15 games in 2021. If you draft a fantasy player who needs to score 15 touchdowns to match their production, you’re gonna have a bad time.

Let’s say Harris “only” scores seven rushing TDs—which would still be pretty impressive—that equals a loss of 48 fantasy points. He’d have to rush for another 480 yards to match that. So Harris rushed for 929 yards last season, but do you think he’s good for 1,409 yards when Rhamondre Stevenson is likely to see 175-plus touches? Even if the Patriots rush the ball like they did during that Bills snow game -- you know the one where they passed it only three times -- Harris produced at or near his ceiling as far as I can tell. He finished 2021 as the RB14 (PPR) and RB8 (standard).

The former Crimson Tide star is ranked RB26 in PPR, which on paper may still feel like a value. But as a limited participant in the passing game, a two-down skill set, and stiff competition for touches from Stevenson, I’m not interested at this price point.

Aaron JonesGreen Bay Packers

Follow opportunity, touches and points—that’s fantasy football, folks. With that in mind, we have to talk about the precipitous slide of Jones. The former UTEP standout will be three years removed from his monster 2019 season (second-best scoring RB) when he totaled 1,500-plus total yards and 19 combined touchdowns. He was still really great in 2020 (fifth-best) but more touches for A.J. Dillon took a big bite of Jones’s 2021 production (11th-best).

We again have to acknowledge the slide and the fact that the Packers offense isn’t likely to be quite as good thanks to the departure of Davante Adams. Am I counting Green Bay out? Never. Is Aaron Rodgers going to get his even with a bunch of JV wide receivers? Probably. But there will be more offensive inefficiencies, probably a few more three-and-outs, a few more drives that stall in the red zone, where the offense has to settle for a field goal. Green Bay’s top three receivers are Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb and Juwann Winfree so forgive me for having a glass half-empty—or would it be cheese half-eaten?—outlook for this offense.

Plus, let’s give credit to Dillon. Entering Year 3, he did lead the team in rushing yards although he played in every game and Jones missed two games. I think the key takeaway here is this is effectively a split backfield while the consensus rankings lean it a bit too heavily toward Jones. Dillon had 1,116 yards from scrimmage a year ago, Jones had 1,190. Furthermore, I believe the push to give Dillon more work will continue. With that in mind, Jones’s consensus RB15 ranking is a tier too high for my tastes and I’d bring him down closer to Dillon at RB24.

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