By Mike Hersh
Last season James Conner had a pretty impressive year especially given whose shoes needed to be filled. Lately there’s a lot of talk pertaining to James Conner, and his current ranking in the NFL. I believe some are still stuck on what Bell left behind but I think the stats have a little to say. In 2017 Bell rushed for 1291 yards off of 321 attempts with an average of 4.0 yards a carry and 9 TD’s. Bell through the air caught 85 of 106 targets for 655 yards and 2 scores. In 2017 Bell played in 15 games. When James Conner took over in 2018 he rushed for 917 yards of 215 attempts with an average of 4.5 yards a carry and 12 TD’s. Conner caught 55 of 71 targets for 497 yards and 1 touchdown with 4 fumbles in 13 of the 16 games that he played. Bell Averaged 19.9 fantasy points per game and Conner averaged 19.4 fantasy points per game in .5 PPR respectively.
I honestly believe Bell and Conner’s numbers wouldn’t of been far off if given same situations. I’m not saying Conner is going to pick up where Bell left off. I just believe James Conner has the potential to be a top ten running back every year and rb 1 every week. Conner finished tied for 7th last season in fantasy points per game and he is being drafted as the 9th running back off the board for 2019 as of may 25th.
In weeks 1-13 when Conner was healthy he tied Saquon Barkley with the most broken tackles with 57. While on the field he had the skill set to handle 20 plus touches a game. Conner was also one of just nine backs who played at least 60% of their offense’s snaps during the regular season. Conner possesses a special skill set that can flourish in the Steelers offense given the opportunity.
Now I understand Jaylen Samuels is going to get an uptick in snaps this year and it’s definitely looking like Benny Snell Jr. is looking good in the camps. So that’s definitely going to weigh in with Conner’s production. If they keep him involved with the passing and rushing there’s no doubt I think he could keep up his numbers and progress. With Brown and Bell now gone their is plenty of targets to go around.
James Conner’s current ADP is around 1.10-1.11 which is averaging 11th over all. If you are planing on taking a rb 1 in the first round Conner needs to be on your list. Sometimes people are looking for the top receiver but if your on the back end of first found most of the big names are taken. If you are picking 11th or 12th a good strategy would be to go with a top 5 wide receiver in Julio Jones or Michael Thomas and pair him with Conner and start your team off with a potential top 5 finisher at the running back and wide receiver position.