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The Los Angeles Rams were dealt a tough blow when second-year running back Cam Akers was ruled out for the entire 2021 season after rupturing his Achilles Tendon while working out. Many NFL minds anticipated that Akers was getting ready to have a breakout season in 2021. The former Seminole playing very well down the stretch of the 2020 season. In the final six games of 2020, including the Rams' two playoff games, Akers performed like a true RB1. He was carrying the ball over 15 times per game, and he saw action in the passing game. He had one game with 131 rushing yards and one game with 171 rushing yards. Akers was supposed to be a big part of what many are still predicting will be a big season for the Rams.
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Prior to the injury news, PointsBet had the Rams with a 10.5 regular season Win Total. They were co-favorites with the 49ers to win the NFC West at +190. More season-long odds: the Rams were -185 to make the playoffs, +600 to win the NFC only behind the Buccaneers and +1200 to win the Super Bowl only behind Kansas City and Tampa Bay. Upon hearing about the injury, my first thought was that the futures market would overreact and I would be able to get Rams markets at a better price. PointsBet had a different idea. They did not touch any of the Rams markets. Every number they had on the Rams pre-Akers injury is the same number they have on the Rams now. The lack of overreaction to the news lets me know two things: the oddsmakers at PointsBet are ruthless, and the Rams are legit title contenders. Oddsmakers do not want to give the Rams a better number out of fear it could get hammered by sharp bettors.
I reached out to a PointsBet trader to ask why the Rams number did not move and this was his response:
“The running back position in the NFL is largely tied to the offensive line which the back is running behind. Therefore, the running backs' impact can only go so far and their ceiling is a lot lower than many other positions. The difference between the fifth best running back and the 25th is very minimal. It’s definitely a 'next man up' type position.”
I wouldn't go that far, personally. Akers is a dynamic talent on a team that really wants to run the ball well.
LA's backfield will likely feature Darrell Henderson as the primary back with Akers out for the season. I could see them bringing in a veteran back to help out. Former Rams running back Todd Gurley could even be an option.
Since oddsmakers still like the Rams to be contenders this season, it may be a good idea to put a few dollars on Matthew Stafford to win the league MVP award. PointsBet has Stafford at +1800 to win the league's Most Valuable Player Award.