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Should You Start Cam Akers vs. the Chiefs? Fantasy Outlook for Rams Running Back

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In the space of three weeks, Cam Akers’ fantasy football value has increased massively. The Los Angeles Rams went from trying to trade Akers to having him as their lead early-down back in less than a month. With that in mind, is Akers a player that fantasy managers should be looking to start in Week 12, or could he be in for a tough game?

Cam Akers’ Fantasy Outlook

Last week saw Akers record his highest number of carries since Week 2 of the 2022 NFL season. Akers led the Rams’ backfield in terms of touches, even if he was behind Kyren Williams when it came to offensive snaps.

Akers dominated the workload on early downs, seeing around 75% of the usage in those situations. However, Akers was in on just one third-down play, with Williams handling the rest, as well as serving as the primary back in two-minute drills.

Therefore, it seems as though the Rams’ RB roles will split as Akers being the back on early downs, with Williams as the pass-catching back. The key determination of their ceilings will come down to who stakes a claim on the short-yardage and, therefore, goal-line work. Last week they split the short-yardage work evenly, with no goal-line opportunities.

MORE: Week 12 Fantasy RB Start/Sit Recommendations

Therefore, how the fantasy value of those two breaks down will very much depend on the projected game script. If the Rams appear set to be in tight games, we could see a lot more of Akers. In contrast, if it looks like the Rams might be chasing the game in the second half, then Williams could be the biggest beneficiary.

Should Fantasy Managers Start Akers in Week 12?

This week looks like it could be a tough one for Akers in terms of playtime. The Rams are 15-point underdogs on average across sportsbooks and around 10-point underdogs in the first half alone. Therefore, we could see a lot of Williams in the second half if the Rams are left chasing the game.

While Akers might see a majority of work in the first half, he could end up getting phased out of the game as it progresses. That presents a significant issue to both his floor and ceiling outlooks in Week 12.

The matchup itself is also not a slam-dunk one for the Rams. The Chiefs have allowed over 20 fantasy points to opposing backs in two of the last three games. However, in the third game, they held the Jacksonville Jaguars and Travis Etienne to less than 10 fantasy points.

MORE: Should You Start Kyren Williams vs. KC in Week 12?

In the two games that the Chiefs gave up more than 20 fantasy points, the lead running backs were Derrick Henry and Austin Ekeler. Akers and Williams are far from the level of those two backs, so it would be optimistic to expect the Rams’ RBs to significantly outscore the Chiefs’ average of allowing 19.91 fantasy points to opposing backs on average.

If you start Akers this week, you are ultimately hoping he finds the end zone in order to be a starter in 12-team leagues. With just six targets all year, Akers is going to struggle to produce the minimum of 10 fantasy points required in half-PPR formats to be a locked-in 12-team starting option unless he scores.

Accordingly, Akers is the RB36 in Tommy Garrett’s half-PPR RB fantasy rankings for Week 12. Personally, I am actually a touch lower on Akers even than that. This matchup appears to favor the role Williams plays in the offense, so I would lean toward him having the better chance to provide starting-level output for fantasy managers. Either way, neither is an ideal 12-team starting consideration this week, and Akers even concerns me in 14-team leagues.

Additionally, Akers is a player I may even look to fade in Underdog Fantasy Best Ball leagues this week. After he led the backfield in touches last week, he will likely require a higher investment than Williams. Even if they are at a similar value, Williams is the player I am looking to take a chance on in Best Ball leagues this week, especially in PPR formats.



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Xavier Hutchinson, WR, Iowa State

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Iowa State WR Xavier Hutchinson, despite his production and his scouting report, remains one of the more underrated receivers in the 2023 NFL Draft. It’s a deep class that can work to Hutchinson’s detriment. But looking at the tape, he has the tools to secure a role early in the NFL.

Xavier Hutchinson NFL Draft Profile

  • Position: Wide Receiver
  • School: Iowa State
  • Current Year: Redshirt Senior
  • Height/Weight: 6’3″, 205 pounds

Quietly, Xavier Hutchinson has been one of the most productive receivers in college football since 2020. He has almost 3,000 receiving yards over that span and has been a target funnel for an Iowa State passing attack that’s relied almost entirely on his presence.

Seeing his production, you’d almost be surprised that Hutchinson wasn’t a highly-coveted recruit out of high school. As a matter of fact, Hutchinson had to take the JUCO route to the FBS level.

Two years at Blinn JC helped get Hutchinson onto the map. After a sophomore season that saw him catch 47 passes for 652 yards and five touchdowns, he started to field offers from Power Five teams as a JUCO transfer. Oklahoma, Utah, TCU, and Nebraska all offered Hutchinson, but he chose to stay in Iowa and signed with the Cyclones.

Since then, Hutchinson has known nothing but production. He caught 64 passes for 771 yards and four scores in 2020. 83 catches for 987 yards and five scores in 2021. And in 2022, he’s amassed career-highs in all categories, with 105 catches for 1,160 yards and six touchdowns.

A 2022 Biletnikoff semifinalist with massive numbers to his name, it’s a foregone conclusion that Hutchinson will see the field on Sundays. But how does he project, and where might he come off the board in April?

Xavier Hutchinson Scouting Report

Production, size, experience — Hutchinson passes a lot of the surface-level eye tests. But does his profile hold up when we put it under the microscope? Let’s dive in.

Hutchinson’s Positives

Whether you use film or analytics as your primary mode of evaluation, you’ll find that Hutchinson checks a lot of boxes. We’ve already noted his production, and as one might expect, he’s a very well-rounded receiver on the field.

First and foremost, Hutchinson brings solid size and athletic ability. He’s a well-built receiver with great height and weight and has great accelerative capacity off the line.

He can gear up quickly with urgent steps and shows off good burst upfield when attacking space or surging inside on mesh and drag routes. And while he’s not a burner downfield, he does have enough speed to stack DBs with long-strider acceleration.

Expanding on Hutchinson’s athletic skill set, the Iowa State WR possesses good lateral twitch and loose hips in space. He’s shown he can sink to a degree and levy quick cuts to create space and disrupt tackling angles. He’s also able to press upfield at sharp angles out of cuts after starting horizontally.

To a degree, Hutchinson’s athleticism translates to good natural route running potential. He flashes smooth lateral athleticism at stems and can square up defenders with split releases, then roll his hips and stack upfield.

The Cyclones star has the loose hips and lateral agility to cut stems quickly and attack sharp angles, and he can also press upfield, tempo his advance into stems, and explode laterally on out routes.

Overall, Hutchinson has above-average timing and zone awareness as a route runner. He can sneak into blind spots and attack open windows. Additionally, he’s shown he can manipulate DBs with lateral twitch and stride variations on double-moves.

Plus, he can use a dead-leg move to freeze DBs at the stem. In a similar vein, Hutchinson can manipulate DBs with initial attack angles before displacing laterally and exploding upfield.

Hutchinson’s lateral agility, for his size, allows him to gain separation with relative ease, as well as line up in the slot or on the boundary. But what truly accentuates his profile as one with early-round upside is his elite catching instincts. Hutchinson is extremely natural at the catch point and impressively consistent across different situations.

MORE: 2023 NFL Draft Big Board

Hutchinson can naturally corral short passes over the middle of the field in-stride, cradling with his hands. He’s also shown he can elevate and extend beyond his frame to bring in high passes, and he actively clamps down with his hands to secure throws.

The Iowa State WR has excellent ball-tracking ability downfield as well. He can roam under passes and guide with his hands while extending beyond his frame, and he very naturally adjusts to passes high or behind him with smooth body control.

Hutchinson can make high-difficulty adjustments with little response time as a catcher. He flashes especially absurd focus and coordination on deflected passes, as he can instantly recalibrate and reposition himself.

Hutchinson’s hands also enable him to convert in these situations. His hand/eye coordination is exceptional in high-difficulty situations, and he consistently uses diamond technique to get his hands in the right spot.

Hutchinson’s proven he can secure passes with his hands while diving or making catches from other points of imbalance. In these instances, he showcases exceptional hand strength when working amidst contact and can maintain possession through the catch process.

His hands are authoritative in 50-50 situations, and he seeks out the ball with zeal. But he also makes an effort to keep the ball away from his frame, minimizing body-catching before securing and protecting the ball with his frame.

With his size, Hutchinson has proven he can get an edge on defenders with targeted physicality, play strength, and frame usage. Over the middle of the field, he’s able to secure passes amidst contact. But he can also use proactive, targeted physicality to pry past defenders at stems.

He’ll utilize double swipes to compound separation before breaking inside, and he can sync his swipes with lateral moves to maximize space.

This physicality and play strength shows up after the catch as well. While Hutchinson doesn’t often bounce off first contact, he can fight and step through arm tackles and recollect his feet to carry acceleration forward. Moreover, he can reset his feet quickly after catches to align himself for contact, and he has the size and leg drive to churn through solo tackles for decent yardage.

Lastly, Hutchinson is, at the very least, a willing blocker who can square up defenders and use his frame to box out opponents on running plays.

Hutchinson’s Areas for Improvement

While Hutchinson is a solid overall athlete for his size, he might not be elite in any one physical area.

Hutchinson doesn’t have elite explosiveness upfield or out of breaks, and he lacks elite deep speed, showing a visible cap in downfield range. Moreover, Hutchinson lacks the elite agility, foot speed, and twitch to immediately sink, decelerate, and evade tackles after securing throws in stride. When aiding direction changes, he can’t always uncoil quickly after gaining momentum.

Hutchinson’s non-elite athletic traits don’t tank his upside in the NFL, but they do necessitate further growth as a route runner because the margin for error may be a bit smaller for him.

At times, Hutchinson can be more disciplined pressing upfield ahead of stems on quick hitches and comebacks. He sometimes drifts back a bit after breaking, and he’ll also rotate around on quick breaks, failing to freeze DBs.

MORE: PFN Mock Draft Simulator

Overall, Hutchinson is a bit tall and upright as a route runner and lacks elite hip sink. Naturally, he can be a bit sharper and more efficient with transitions at times. He occasionally unhinges his hips too early at stems, keying in DBs on breaks. On a related note, he can be more consistent squaring up at stems to hold DBs, and he sometimes drifts a bit on vertical paths.

Hutchinson can seek more efficiency with his usage of physicality as well. Although he’s fairly proficient at using targeted physicality, he occasionally gets too grabby in contact situations, risking offensive pass interference.

Among other things, Hutchinson doesn’t have the elite hand strength to consistently convert on acrobatic one-handed opportunities, and he sometimes lets the ball bounce free at contact with the ground.

While he has decent length, his proportional length is middling and slightly limits his catch radius. And as a blocker, he sometimes only seeks to obstruct and doesn’t sustain blocks or engage with hands.

Current Draft Projection for Iowa State WR Xavier Hutchinson

Hutchinson grades as a solid Day 2 prospect at the wide receiver position. Within that range, there may be some variance based on team preferences and individual evaluations. But Hutchinson is undoubtedly deserving of consideration in the top 100, and a strong offseason — with Senior Bowl and NFL Combine showings on deck — could move him up.

Hutchinson has good size, decent length, and a solid overall athletic skill set. Although he plays a bit tall at times as a route runner, he has the necessary lateral agility, twitch, hip fluidity, and burst to create separation. He has enough juice as a long-strider to stack DBs. And few WRs in the 2023 NFL Draft are better than Hutchinson at the catch point.

Since he’s not a quantifiably elite athlete, Hutchinson should work to keep refining his route running efficiency at the next level. There’s still some wasted motion at times, and he can work to expand his route tree and release package a bit more.

But there’s enough there already — he has enough foot speed and sink to work with. And Hutchinson can also be a RAC threat in space with his play strength, leg churn, and lateral agility.

As a movement Z who can man both the slot and the boundary, Hutchinson presents a lot of projected appeal. He can win in one-on-one situations or use space to his advantage. On Day 1, he can be a valuable addition to a WR rotation, and he has enough physical upside to develop into an above-average NFL starter with safety blanket value.



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Reese’s Senior Bowl Invites 2023

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Stay up to date with the entire list of athletes that have accepted their 2023 Reese’s Senior Bowl invites and their lead-up to the 2023 NFL Draft.



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Is It Time for Fantasy Managers To Trust Hollins?

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The quickest way to fall behind in a fantasy football league is to become complacent and rely on the team you drafted, neglecting the all-important waiver wire. As managers make numerous waiver claims for Week 13 hoping to strengthen their roster, should Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Mack Hollins be a priority addition off the waiver wire vs. the Chargers?

Mack Hollins Has Another Solid Performance Against the Seahawks

Like many, the 2022 season has been a bit of a roller coaster for Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Mack Hollins. However, the 6’4″ fifth-year receiver has quietly put together a sneaky good résumé that fantasy football managers need to pay attention to while submitting waiver wire claims for Week 13.

Playing on 96% of the Raiders’ snaps on Sunday, Hollins has a 100% route participation and sat second behind only Davante Adams amongst wide receivers in targets with five. While low in volume, he made them count. Hollins hauled in four of those passes for 63 yards and scored his third touchdown of the season to finish with just over 16 PPR points as the WR20 on the week. It’s the second game in a row as a top-36 receiver and his fourth since their Week 6 bye.

MORE: Top Week 13 Waiver Wire Targets

Do you think Hollins can ride the momentum? Well, over on Underdog Fantasy, you can take the higher or lower on Hollins’ projections as part of their Pick’em contest and win up to 20x in the process. Sign up at Underdog Fantasy today for a 100% deposit bonus of up to $100.

But things get interesting when you look at the breakdown for Hollins when acting as the Raiders’ No. 2 option. In the five games without wide receiver Hunter Renfrow this year, Hollins has averaged 7.2 targets, 4.6 receptions, and 64.8 receiving yards. That’s double-digit fantasy points before we even factor in any touchdowns.

Sunday marked Hollins’ third game with 50+ yards in his last five weeks, and his 531 yards on the season now have him tied for 36th at the position. With likely one more week without Renfrow and Darren Waller in the lineup, is Hollins a clear-cut waiver wire target or a roster clogger?

Should Mack Hollins Be a Top Waiver Wire Priority for Fantasy Managers in Week 13?

Like the on-field performances, the waiver wire each week can be up and down. Some weeks there are tons of talent, and others, there’s only a little out there. But if you need a receiver, Week 13 could treat you well.

I would undoubtedly have Hollins on this list. There is enough of a pattern in his performances as the No. 2 to warrant a certain level of security as a flex option. Although it is not the easiest of matchups, the Los Angeles Chargers are 15th in DVOA, 25th in EPA/dropback, 19th in success rate per dropback, and 28th in points allowed on the season (27.51) but 20th over the last four games (24.55).

With that said, the Chargers are No. 3 in DVOA vs. No. 2 wide receivers thanks to Asante Samuel Jr. and Brian Callahan stepping up after losing prized free agent acquisition J.C. Jackson.

As a depth option, Hollins makes sense off the waiver wire and likely won’t get you into a bidding war, as he is rostered in just 12.5% of leagues and could go a bit under the radar. Having said that, he is not the top player I would look to target.

MORE: Early Week 13 Fantasy Start/Sit Recommendations

At RB, Kyren Williams, Gus Edwards, Isiah Pacheco, Zonovan Knight, and JaMycal Hasty need to be rostered. Additionally, Benny Snell Jr. and Darrell Henderson are in the mix, too. At receiver, there is even more with Treylon Burks, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Zay Jones, Michael Gallup, Elijah Moore, Nico Collins, and Isiah McKenzie available. Even George Pickens is rostered in only 64% of leagues.

While Hollins is an intriguing player in games where the Raiders are missing depth, he’s never going to be the No. 1 and will be, at best, the No. 3 behind Davante Adams and Waller. Players like Pickens, Burks, DPJ, Jones, and Gallup all present a higher ceiling and a better rest-of-season value due to more security in their individual roles.

Hollins does carry some value, though, which makes him worth a look in deeper leagues, but there are others I prefer over him in most formats. And as always, it’s all dependent on your league’s availability.



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