RB - PIT
If Conner were able to stay on the field, he'd be considered as a top-10 running back in fantasy. Unfortunately, he hasn't done that, and it's led them to draft Jaylen Samuels, Benny Snell, and now Anthony McFarland. While none of them are better than Conner, it's likely we see them take some of the workload away from him in 2020.
7th among RBs in FAN PPG over past 2 seasons (better than Cook, Henry, Mixon, to name a few), but in a prove-it season health wise - figure he's playing for his future in PIT
Many people consider 2019 to be a bad season for Conner but before getting hurt, he was averaging over 14 points per game. Now, Ben Roethlisberger is slated to return and the Steelers offense of old could be coming back together. Getting a piece of that in the 3rd-4th round is terrific value.
If Conner stays healthy this year, he's almost certainly going to be a draft-day bargain. Through Week 7, before his season was derailed by injury, he was on pace for more than 1400 total yards and 14 touchdowns. Mike Tomlin has come out and essentially stated that Conner is going to be a workhorse back, and he may get even more work in the receiving game if Ben Roethlisberger doesn't push it downfield as much as he used to after elbow surgery. In other words, it's just health with Conner. If he has it, he should be no worse than an extremely strong RB2 in half- or full-PPR leagues.
People are quick to write Conner off, but injuries are the only difference from this season to last where he was being drafted as a first-round pick. In fact, Big-Ben is back, so Conner should have more running lanes than he did last season when he excelled. From weeks 1-8 last season, Conner saw almost 18 touches per game, was sixth among RBs in fantasy points per snap, and forced the second-most missed tackles on receptions. He's also played at least 10 games every year of his career and is an RB1 whenever he's on the field. He's easily worth the third round pick.
Conner's a dicey pick, but that seems to be built into his ADP right now. If everything goes his way this season, Conner will drastically outperform where he's being drafted right now. However, we just simply don't know at this point whether or not he's going to remain healthy for all 16 games. In fact, I might bet against that happening.
What an awful season 2019 proved to be for those who draft James Conner in the first round of drafts. Big Ben was injured, the offence fell apart, Conner's body fell apart and other backs like Benny Snell, Jaylen Samuels and even Kerrith Whyte (who oddly didn't look too bad) swarmed in. With Ben back, Conner ripped like a flying squirrel and another RB in 4th rounder Anthony McFarland in the mix, 2020 has turned into a real crap shoot. With a 4th round price tag though, Conner might just be worth the risk as an upside gamble returning to a good offence where he should be the lead back.
Conner went from 1,470 yards from scrimmage and 13 touchdowns in 2018 to 715 yards from scrimmage and 7 touchdowns in 2019. The big issue for me is durability, Conner has RB1 talent, but missed 3 games in 2018 and 6 games last year. He has a lot of upside due to his ability, but a lot of downside due to his durability.
Hard not to like.
24 years old - UFA 2021
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