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What Week 1 tells us about Rams running backs in fantasy football

Malcolm Brown out-performed Cam Akers, but don’t sleep on the rookie. We break down the fantasy football considerations.

Los Angeles Rams running back Malcolm Brown carries the ball during a scrimmage at SoFi Stadium. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams made a significant change this offseason, spending a second round pick on running back Cam Akers to replace veteran Todd Gurley. Akers joined a backfield that included Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson Jr. with all three competing for an opportunity in what could be a prolific Rams offense.

In Week 1, the Rams ground game was voluminous, albeit not super efficient. Brown led the team with 18 carries for 79 yards and two touchdowns and added three receptions for 31 yards. Akers rushed 14 times for 39 yards and added a four-yard reception. Henderson had three rushes for six yards. From a snap count perspective, Brown was on the field for 44 offensive snaps, Akers for 24, and Henderson for 5.

Fantasy football analysis: Rams RBs Malcolm Brown, Cam Akers, Darrell Henderson

Brown is the clubhouse leader coming out of Week 1, which is not a shocking development. He made a start in place of Gurley last year, and finished second on the team with 69 carries for 255 yards. He’s the closest LA has to an established veteran, and coming out of an offseason limited by the Covid-19 pandemic, rookies have an extra hurdle to securing playing time.

Akers is the guy the Rams want to secure the long-term starting role, but we can expect the team to play with more of a rotation for the time being. Before Sunday’s game, head coach Sean McVay said he was planning on a three-man rotation for Week 1. Henderson is working his way back from a hamstring pull, so it was not surprising to see him get a smaller workload.

Week 2 recommendation

Brown seems to have the early edge, but don’t sleep on Akers. Brown has the higher floor for now, but Akers is the upside guy. Brown is the guy to start for now, but Akers should eventually break out. If both are available on waivers, you can play it safe and place a claim on both players, but which is first depends on your depth. If you just need bodies, Brown is probably the better play. If you can afford to be more patient with the claim, Akers is the better. Neither is available in most leagues, but smaller leagues could offer an option.