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What Cam Akers trade does for Ronnie Rivers and Zach Evans

Kyren Williams has been a do-it-all back through two games but who is his backup?

Los Angeles Rams v Denver Broncos Photo by Tyler Schank/Getty Images

Two of the biggest 2023 fantasy football surprises through two games play for the Los Angeles Rams; standout rookie WR Puka Nacua and second-year RB Kyren Williams.

Williams has earned head coach Sean McVay’s trust as a do-it-all running back, and he sent veteran back Cam Akers, who was traded this week to the Minnesota Vikings, packing. The Rams have revamped their rushing attack and Williams is at the center of it all. LA is no longer over-reliant on zone running concepts as they’ve mixed in more gap scheme plays. Williams has also worked the underneath area of the field in the passing game and has been the Rams’ best receiving threat out of the backfield since star Todd Gurley.

On the surface Williams’ 29 rushes for 104 yards don’t seem too impressive however, he’s scored four total touchdowns (three rushing, one receiving) and accumulated another 50 yards through the air on six receptions. The yards will come at some point for the young running back, as the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers have been stout against the run. Things don’t seem to get immediately easier on Monday Night Football versus the Cincinnati Bengals; however, the Bengals defense has allowed 13 explosive rushes in their first two contests. Still, the Cincinnati front has plenty of talent and their struggles seem due for regression (or progress in this case).

But Akers’ departure does more than cast Williams into the forefront—it also begs questions as to who the Rams’ primary backup is now and if the team plans to involve rookie Zach Evans sooner than later. LA traded up to the sixth round in this spring’s NFL Draft for the opportunity to select Evans. At first, it seemed the former TCU and Ole Miss product was headed toward a redshirt year; however, only Ronnie Rivers stands between him and significant playing time.

Unfortunately for Evans, with Akers out last week against San Francisco, the Rams instead promoted veteran Royce Freeman from the practice squad and left the rookie as a gameday inactive.

Rivers won’t cede his #2 spot on the depth chart easily, and he fended off Evans over the course of this past preseason. Through three appearances in the exhibition games, Rivers carried the ball 21 times for 105 yards (5.0 average). His longest run was only 15 yards, which shows the young back was consistently effective—in other words, his average wasn’t bolstered by a single outlier. The second-year back was afforded playing time last week against the 49ers with Akers a healthy scratch and he managed a single reception for four yards.

What were the Rams’ motivations for trading Cam Akers? Was it an opportunity to move on from a player that no longer was a good fit within the locker room, or was LA hoping to create opportunities for a promising young stable of three running backs? Will we see more from Freeman and Rivers, meaning Evans is destined for a redshirt year unless injuries set in?

Right now there are more questions than answers, but we will learn more soon enough.