Malcolm Brown, Cam Akers’ Updated Fantasy Outlook After Rams’ Week 1 Win

Los Angeles Rams running back Malcolm Brown (34) scores a rushing touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis )

Ashley Landis/Associated Press

Los Angeles Rams running back Malcolm Brown is on just 25 percent of fantasy football rosters in Yahoo leagues as of midnight ET Monday. Backfield mate Cam Akers is rostered in 94 percent of leagues.

Expect Brown to be one of the hottest fantasy football free agents this week, though, after gaining 110 yards from scrimmage and scoring two touchdowns on 21 touches in the Rams’ 20-17 win over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday evening.

Brown dominated the backfield touches, as Ian Hartitz of Pro Football Focus noted:

Ian Hartitz @Ihartitz

Rams RB usage (PFF)

Malcolm Brown: 61% snaps, 18-79-2 rushing, 3-31-0 receiving
Cam Akers: 34%, 13-49-0, 1-4-0
Darrell Henderson: 6%, 3-6-0 rushing

And Andy Holloway of the Fantasy Footballers podcast tweeted how well Brown performed and what can be expected on waiver wires shortly:

Andy Holloway @andyholloway

Make no mistake, Malcolm Brown didn’t just receive the most snaps. He’s been unquestionably the best running back on the Rams side of the ball tonight. Going to be one of the bigger waiver targets this week if you didn’t already grab him at the back of drafts.

Fantasy football players might remember Brown’s Week 1 performance from last year (53 rushing yards, two touchdowns) and avoid him entirely considering that he had just 202 rushing yards and three scores for the remainder of the season.

But this season is much different: For starters, Todd Gurley, who once owned a four-year, $60 million contract extension from the Rams, is now an Atlanta Falcon. There weren’t many touches to go around with the workhorse back aboard.

Second, Brown had 21 touches despite sharing the workload in a three-man backfield. That’s an encouraging sign for anyone considering him going forward, as he’ll see enough looks to be a viable second running back option for lineups.

Brown wasn’t wildly efficient or explosive on Sunday, but he doesn’t need to be in order to become a solid fantasy starter.

He was the go-to back in goal-line situations, so scoring opportunities should be there to create more fantasy-point opportunities even if he doesn’t go off for 100 yards every game.

Brown was also the best back on the field, as Next Gen Stats noted:

Next Gen Stats @NextGenStats

#Rams Running Back Breakdown (vs DAL)

Malcolm Brown (43 snaps)
➤ 79 rush yards (+6 RYOE), 50% Over Expected

Cam Akers (24 snaps)
➤ 39 rush yards (-23 RYOE), 7% Over Expected

#DALvsLAR | #RamsHouse

Akers, who the Rams picked 52nd overall in the 2020 NFL draft out of Florida State, only had 43 yards on 15 touches.

It’s not worth giving up on him after just one game, although better starting options can be found for Week 2.

Brown ultimately won the touch battle 21-15, gaining 5.24 yards per touch to Akers’ 2.87 yards. As noted before, he’s the clear goal-line back and perhaps the go-to option in the passing game as well with his four targets to Akers’ one.

It’s worth keeping Akers to see if these trends change in his favor. For example, if the touch share develops into more of a 50-50 split, Akers’ efficiency improves and he becomes more involved in the pass game, then he’s certainly worth rostering and perhaps starting in a flex spot or even RB2 role.

This is all assuming Darrell Henderson Jr., who had just three touches on Sunday, stays as the third running back and doesn’t carve more into Brown and Akers’ playing time.

For now, however, consider Brown an RB2 for Week 2 at the Philadelphia Eagles, with Akers occupying a spot on the bench.

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