Jaylen Samuels, Trey Edmunds Fantasy Outlook After James Conner's Injury

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistNovember 8, 2019

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Stevan Ridley practices before an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
Gary Landers/Associated Press

The Pittsburgh Steelers' backfield will continue to operate with reserves as starter James Conner and rookie Benny Snell Jr. have been ruled out for Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Rams

ESPN's Jeremy Fowler provided the update on Friday. Both players also missed last week's game against the Indianapolis Colts.

For fantasy owners, all eyes turn to Jaylen Samuels and Trey Edmunds for help from the Steelers. 

A fifth-round pick in 2018, Samuels had a modest impact as a rookie with 455 yards from scrimmage and three total touchdowns on 82 touches in 14 games. He averaged a strong 4.6 yards per carry as Conner's primary backup. 

The Steelers had no problem transitioning Conner into the same running back/receiver hybrid role they used with Le'Veon Bell. He touched the ball 270 times and finished 10th in the NFL with 1,470 yards from scrimmage last year. 

Conner has been solid in 2019 with 616 yards from scrimmage and six total touchdowns on 126 touches through seven games. The absence of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who is out for the year due to an elbow injury, has changed Pittsburgh's entire offense. 

Mason Rudolph hasn't been asked to do much, which is a big reason why Conner ranks second on the Steelers with 29 receptions. 

Samuels showed the ability to handle that dual role as a rookie. He caught 26 passes on 29 targets, and all three of his touchdowns came as a receiver. The Steelers seem inclined to use the 23-year-old primarily as a pass-catcher based on his initial success:

This hasn't been a breakout season for Samuels, who has 216 yards from scrimmage and one touchdown in six games.

Based on the volume of touches Samuels is likely to see in Conner's absence, he belongs in your starting lineup as a No. 2 running back. He's available in 18 percent of Yahoo leagues and 22 percent of ESPN leagues. 

Edmunds was signed by the New Orleans Saints as an undrafted free agent in 2017. He joined the Steelers' practice squad in September 2018, but he was elevated to the active roster late last year and again in October amid the team's injuries at the position.

He's averaged a promising 5.5 yards per carry across 22 NFL rushing attempts, but the sample size is far too small to make any definitive conclusions. He did have a team-high 12 carries in last week's win over the Colts.

Edmunds' uncertain workload makes him a fantasy proposition in Week 10, but he's worth a flier in case the team's run of injuries eventually makes him the unquestioned No. 1 back for a bit.

Conner will be the only running back on the Steelers worth owning in most fantasy formats once he returns, though.

             

Fantasy info via Fantasy Pros

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