Studs and Duds 2020 – Volume 3 – Cam Akers and Preston Williams

by Jay Felicio · Studs and Duds

We all have them. The players we attach ourselves to over the course of the pre-draft process. The ones we try our damnedest to draft or acquire in fantasy football. For better or worse, these are the players we end up attaching our reputations to as fantasy players and/or analysts. This series will focus on both sides of that particular coin.

In this new Underworld venture called Studs and Duds, we will talk about one player we planted our proverbial flag on that was a hit and one that was a bust. Along the way, we’ll be using PlayerProfiler’s advanced stats, metrics and analytics to analyze the process, figure out how and why these players hit/busted, and decide whether we want to target/fade said players next season.


Volume 3 – Jay Felicio

Stud: Cam Akers

While he finished his rookie campaign with a lowly average of 9.3 (No. 37 among qualified running backs) Fantasy Points per Game, his impact was felt most near the end of the season. He capped off an impressive three week stretch of production with a 21.4-point outburst in Week 14, good for RB10 on the week, before unfortunately suffering a high ankle sprain in the middle of the fantasy playoffs.

How Many Leagues Did You Have Him In?

With all the hype surrounding the other rookie running backs, I snagged Cam Akers in five redraft, three keeper, and two dynasty leagues. He was the fourth back off the board in almost all my rookie drafts and practically free in most redraft leagues. If I didn’t draft him, I was able to pick him up off waivers in redraft with his slow start.

When Did You Know He Was One of Your Guys?

I was a fan of Akers when he was at Florida State, and the second he was drafted by the Rams, I knew I wanted him everywhere in fantasy. Sean McVay isn’t afraid to use a bellcow back, and although it didn’t happen at the beginning of the season, Akers showed by season’s end what he could do as a featured back.

Cam Akers Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

While everyone was hyped up on Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Jonathan Taylor, and D’Andre Swift, I scooped up Akers everywhere.  

Why Did You Like Him So Much?

What’s not to like? He boasts a 39.8-percent (90th-percentile) College Dominator Rating, a 10.4-percent (79th-percentile) College Target Share, a 4.47 (86th-percentile) 40-yard Dash, and a 108.7 (90th-percentile) Speed Score. Akers had the metrics, the college performance, and the landing spot for NFL success.

His senior season was impressive; in 11 games, he rushed for 1,144 yards, adding in 30 catches for 225 receiving yards and a total of 18 touchdowns. Once he landed in Los Angeles, the thought of Akers getting the Todd Gurley treatment had me salivating at the mouth. 

What Did You Learn?

Patience, patience, patience, especially with rookies. Far too often, fantasy managers are too reactionary. And if a rookie doesn’t come out of the gate performing like prime Adrian Peterson, he’s labeled a bust and given away at a discount. The 2020 season was like no other having to deal with the pandemic, and once both Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown began performing in the backfield while Akers wasn’t, panic ensued. The echo chamber was pushing Clyde Edwards-Helaire up and up, but when I took time to sit back and look, Akers was the guy set up to perform at the next level.    

Where Would You Be Comfortable Drafting Him In 2021?

While I’m afraid the hype train will push his average draft position even higher, Akers is currently being drafted at a reasonable 11.8 ADP per Underdog Fantasy. All of the running backs outside the first six or seven have warts. The top-5 potential of Akers paired with the expected usage makes him a prime target at the back end of the first or the top of the second round.

We’re still early in the offseason, and ADPs will change by full-on fantasy draft season. If Akers creeps up too far past players like Aaron Jones and Ezekiel Elliott, that price would be a little too rich for my blood.  

Dud: Preston Williams 

After losing the second half of his impressive rookie season to a torn ACL, he came back to average a wholly unimpressive 8.8 (No. 63) Fantasy Points per Game before once again suffering a season-ending lower body injury. At least he had his league-leading 22.2-percent Touchdown Rate, scoring four (No. 48) Total Touchdowns on 18 (No. 119) Receptions.

How Many Leagues Did You Have Him In?

I’m the type of fantasy manager that when I’m in on a guy, I go for him everywhere. I don’t diversify for the sake of diversification. If I’m in on a player, right or wrong, I’m in on him for a reason. Unfortunately, that led me to having many shares of Preston Williams. He made it onto six of my redraft teams, but thankfully I wasn’t the only one who was in on him. I didn’t have him on a single dynasty or keeper team.  

When Did You Know He Was One of Your Guys?

I’ve been a fan of Preston Williams since his rookie year. He scored double digit fantasy points in five of his eight games in his 2019 rookie season, and was well on his way to a breakout before tearing his ACL in Week 9. In a cruel twist of fate, the game he was injured happened to be his best of the season. Williams grabbed five catches for 72 yards and two touchdowns before going down. 

Why Did You Like Him So Much?

Williams’ ADP going into the 2020 season was around the 15th round. A guy who was emerging as the WR1 on his team before going down with injury was a lottery ticket I was willing to scratch. Ryan Fitzpatrick was back under center at least to start the season, and whenever Tua Tagovailoa took over, I was confident that he’d still be able to feed Williams the ball.  

Preston Williams Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Although his workout metrics weren’t impressive, he did have a 45.3-percent (91st-percentile) College Dominator Rating and a 34.9-percent (95th-percentile) College Target Share. Williams has produced at both the college and professional levels, and I thought he would continue to improve. 

What Did You Learn?

I had a few fantasy basics reinforced that I was blind to with my love for Preston Williams. Don’t buy into the narrative. Yes, DeVante Parker‘s breakout didn’t begin until Williams went down with an injury (averaging eight more points per game in 2019 without Williams on the field), but that didn’t mean Parker was going to step aside. He’d taken a step forward and was here to stay.

Taking Williams’ first eight games and expecting him to continue that type of production was a fool’s errand. While I knew there would be rust to knock off, I thought his breakout would continue in 2020. Plenty of factors change year to year; the Dolphins defense drastically improved, Williams was recovering from an ACL injury, and Miami drafted a new quarterback. Looking at the past for future production is inane; situations change for every team every season. 

Where Would You Be Comfortable Drafting Him In 2021?

Williams is nothing more than a late-round flier at this point. While I still believe in talent, Miami’s wide receiver corps got crowded with Will Fuller‘s signing. The Dolphins are going to add more offensive weapons via the NFL Draft. Williams has also yet to prove he can stay healthy for an entire season, which is concerning. He’s already, at best, the third option in the passing game, and will fall even further down the pecking order post-draft.