Fantasy football owners have endured a wild two weeks to open the 2023 campaign, and it doesn't look like things are going to be slowing down heading into Week 3. One of the biggest surprises so far has been how many top-tier contributors have been on the Los Angeles Rams offense, but one guy who was not a part of their success was running back Cam Akers.
Puka Nacua has been a waiver wire gem so far, Kyren Williams looks like one of the best running backs in the league, and Tutu Atwell has been a solid FLEX option as well. But Akers, who was presumably going to be the Rams lead running back this season, split touches with Williams in Week 1 before he was a healthy scratch for their Week 2 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
Akers went through a similar ordeal last season, but he ended up actually being traded this time around, as he landed with the Minnesota Vikings on Wednesday afternoon. This deal is big for the NFL, but it's also very notable for fantasy football owners. So with that in mind, let's pick out three winners and losers from a fantasy perspective as a result of this Akers trade.
Winner: Cam Akers
It goes without saying that it's great that Akers finally got out of Los Angeles. For whatever reason, Akers hasn't seen eye-to-eye with head coach Sean McVay, which has led to him playing sparingly when he's been healthy over the past season and two weeks now. On the Vikings, Akers should have an opportunity to actually make an impact in their high-powered offense.
Akers won't be a viable starter right off the bat, as he will likely be working behind Alexander Mattison, but he went from being a Week 1 starter, to cut in Week 2, to being a nice stash option in Week 3. We saw last season what Akers is capable of when he plays up to his full potential, and after getting dealt off the Rams, Akers will have a nice opportunity to reach that potential with a new squad.
Loser: Alexander Mattison
On the other hand, Mattison finds himself set to lose touches to Akers just two weeks into his first stint as the team's full-time running back. After being a viable fantasy option as Dalvin Cook's backup option for the first four seasons of his career, Mattison was seemingly an easy starting running back choice this year with the lead role being his and no one else's.
The problem is that Mattison has looked awful to start the season, and it's telling that the Vikings went out and made a move for Akers after his ugly Week 2 contest against the Philadelphia Eagles. Mattison will still be the top option out of the backfield for Minnesota for the time being, but his stranglehold of the position isn't as secure as it once was, especially if he continues to struggle like he has to begin the season.
Winner: Kyren Williams
Williams already can be considered a winner since he dominated in Week 2 when handed the lead running back role in favor of Akers, but talk about a meteoric rise to fantasy football superstardom. Heading into the season, Williams was a complete afterthought in the Rams backfield. Now, ahead of their Week 3 action, Williams is owned in 89.4 percent of ESPN's fantasy leagues, and is projected to be a top five running back in Week 3.
If you were lucky enough to land Williams off of the waiver wire (or he is still somehow available in your league), he should be an immediate plug-and-play in your lineup moving forward. Williams dropped 28 fantasy points (using standard PPR scoring) in Week 2 against a tough San Francisco 49ers defense, and with no competition for touches, he should remain one of the top running backs in the league.
For our discussion on the best fantasy football breakout and sleeper candidates, listen below:
Loser: Matthew Stafford
On the other hand, Matthew Stafford can't be too pleased to see the Rams desolate offense lose another playmaker for no good reason. Stafford has made due with Williams, Nacua, and Atwell through two games, but dealing away Akers, who was the most proven player of this group, surely won't make Stafford happy.
Given how Akers didn't make a huge contribution in the passing game, this shouldn't have a massive impact on his fantasy output, but if Williams ends up struggling or gets hurt, Los Angeles' run game is going to be in trouble. And in that scenario, a lot more pressure gets put on pressure, which is why this trade doesn't exactly benefit him.
Winner: Kirk Cousins
Kirk Cousins has already been the top fantasy scoring quarterback in the league to start the season, and he's been doing so without getting any sort of help from the ground game behind him. Adding in Akers, who is admittedly inconsistent, should end up making his life easier and open up more options in the passing game.
Cousins has a bevy of top targets, which makes his life fairly easy, but opposing defenses have been able to key in on him behind his porous offensive line through their first two games of the season. Getting some help on the ground, whether it be through the newly acquired Akers, or Mattison having a fire lit under him, will surely help Cousins be even more productive in the air moving forward.
Loser: Opposing defenses playing against the Vikings
Many fantasy owners typically stream their defense on a weekly basis, and while playing the defense going up against the Vikings was never really a great idea, the addition of Akers, and potentially a legitimate rushing attack, makes starting the defense going up against Minnesota a bad idea.
Cousins is already going to wreak havoc in the air, but in the same vein of thought from above, if they can get production on the ground, this unit will be even more dangerous than they already are. This obviously isn't going to be a weekly concern for fantasy football owners, but if you have a defense that goes up against a weak opponent one week, then the Vikings the next, it may be worth investing in another defense.