As if the four studs I gave you guys last time weren’t enough, here are two more fantasy superstars who are catching fire just in time for your playoff run. They may have been inconsistent or irrelevant up to this point, but the numbers don’t lie. These gentlemen are about to turn it around and produce at a high level.
Cam Akers – RB LAR
This Rams running back has shown signs of big-play ability this year, much like he did in Week 5 against Washington and Week 8 against Miami. But not as big as the plays he made in Week 12 against San Francisco. In that game, Akers posted 84 yards and a touchdown on only 9 carries.
His coaches have since rewarded his success with more opportunities in both the running and passing game. McVay and company have drastically spiked Cam’s snap percentage over the past two weeks with a 63 percent snap share in Week 13 and a 79 percent snap share in his dominant Week 14 performance against New England – his highest totals since a 33 percent snap share all the way back in Week 1.
Akers has separated himself from the rest of the backs in this backfield on a good team with a good defense that is fighting for a playoff spot. The Rams’ offense is finding that success through a run/play action scheme and is recording one of the highest run rates with 29.9 run plays per game, ensuring plenty of volume for Akers.
You might be thinking, “Well don’t the Rams run a running back by committee backfield? Surely, this won’t last.” And that may be true so up to this point in the season, but that is no longer the case. Akers’ aforementioned snap percentages from Weeks 13 and 14 earlier happen to be the highest by any Rams’ running back this season. Clearly, the coaching staff is moving away from their original RBBC approach for simply playing the most productive back.
The cherry on top of it all is that this team is getting their star tackle back, Andrew Whitworth, who will help solidify and improve this run game even more. If you don’t think one lineman can make that much of a difference, you’re wrong. “Big Whit” is currently rated by Pro Football Focus as one of the four highest graded offensive tackles in the league with a mark of 88.7.
With so many different factors working in his favor, it is safe to say that Cam Akers will be in many favorable situations and game scripts during the fantasy football playoffs.
Ronald Jones II – RB TB
Throughout the regular season, both Ronald Jones’ snap percentage and production have been up and down. But all that is about to change.
The best running back on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is Ronald Jones II. He is currently fourth in the entire league in rushing with 820 yards while mired in a committee backfield. His 5.1 yards per carry is a full 1.2 yards higher than Leonard Fournette’s mark of 3.9 yards per attempt this season. In the five games in which Jones received 17 or more carries, he rushed for 106 yards or more in four of them. Fournette has not broken that mark a single time this season.
As for Fournette being the third-down/pass-catching back, their nearly identical numbers in the passing game would suggest otherwise:
Ronald Jones II – 40 targets | 27 receptions | 161 yards | 1 TD
Leonard Fournette – 37 targets | 28 receptions | 171 yards | 0 TD
I have great respect for Fournette and all he’s done throughout his career, but it is Ronald Jones II time in Tampa Bay. And it couldn’t have come at a better time with a schedule of MIN, @ATL, @DET, and ATL again to finish out their season.
Detroit is obviously the easy one to pick on here simply because they have given up more fantasy points to the running back position than any other team in the league. They’ve also given up an average of 395.6 yards per game this year to opposing offenses.
As for the Vikings and Falcons, they both seem to be trending in similar directions when it comes to their run defenses. They both struggled against the pass but managed to be somewhat stout against the run during the first eight weeks of the season. However, over the last three weeks, Minnesota has given up an average of 137 rushing yards per game while Atlanta has posted a similar mark of 137.7 rushing yards per game over their last three contests, including giving up 207 yards rushing in Week 13 to New Orleans.
The bye week in Week 13 for the Buccaneers also allowed them ample time to recover from any lingering injuries and even get some key pieces back in their lineup, like Ali Marpet. I cannot wait to see what this offense can do at full strength with such great matchups for the remainder of the season. And RoJo will be the primary benefactor of all that success as the lead back. Start him up for your playoff push.
So there you have it, a couple more fantasy studs who are about to crank up their fantasy production right in time for playoffs. If you have any questions about these gentlemen or any other players in the league, you can follow me on Twitter @ParkerJamesFF and ask me anything. Thank you for reading and good luck this postseason!