As we gear up to the start of the NFL season, Football Absurdity is going to bring you a comprehensive breakdown of every notable player that will be available in fantasy football drafts. James Conner finished up his breakout 2018 campaign by breaking out every injury under the sun and breaking his owners’ hearts and souls. Which James Conner will show up for 2020?
James Conner ADP and AAV:
Standard Scoring ADP: RB21, 43 overall
PPR Scoring ADP: WR21, 40 overall
Average Auction Value: $14
James Conner Statistics:
James Conner Overview:
Officially, James Conner appeared in ten games last season. Unfortunately, like the rest of the 2019 Pittsburgh Steelers, “appearing” doesn’t mean he necessarily did anything. Conner failed to garner fifteen snaps in two of those games, and he was in-and-out of the lineup following the Steelers’ seventh game. He averaged 18 touches in the first seven games of the season, and played just three of the next nine games, managing just eight touches per game across 56 snaps across those three contests. It was plain bad, and all goes back to a lingering shoulder injury and a thigh injury that happened after the Steelers were already well out of contention.
Injuries are definitely a concern with James Conner, as he had several injuries over the course of his time as the Steelers’ lead back that has cost him time. That having been said, Mike Tomlin called Conner “a featured guy and a proven runner when healthy,” with this coming after Ed Bouchette idly theorizing that the Steelers would cut back on his carries to give them to Benny Snell, of all players.
I like James Conner; he’s a multi-talented running back who looks to regain the lead back role now that he’s healthy. Since Mike Tomlin has entered the league, few teams give one back twenty or more touches than the Steelers. They don’t use multiple backs if they can help it, and James Conner is the best back in that room in 2020. The only real potential touch thief that gives me any level of worry is rookie Anthony McFarland, and he doesn’t particularly fill me with existential dread for Conner.
James Conner Draft Strategy:
James Conner is going in the question mark range of running backs. Mark Ingram, Lev Bell, Conner, Devin Singletary, David Johnson, and David Montgomery all go within ten picks of each other between picks forty and fifty. Of those guys, the only one who ended up downgraded to that range from injury is Conner. Bell and David Johnson are former studs who are on the back nine of their careers, Singletary and Montgomery are ascendant talents that we hope can fulfill their draft stock, and Mark Ingram is a very good player in a crowded backfield. Only Conner ends up in that range thanks to what might have been flukes.
Like Chris Carson on the Seahawks, if I’m getting Conner, it’s as my RB3, or I am aggressively pursuing an upside RB3 that I feel very good about having start for me if need be. I can’t downplay the injury risk with Conner, but the Steelers are one of the few remaining teams with a bell cow philosophy that they impart on their team, regardless of player talent level. Conner is very good, and should get commensurate touches, and should return great value… if he can stay healthy.
Best Case Scenario:
We get a full sixteen game season from Conner on his pace through 2018 and the first half of 2019: 1,000+ rushing yards, nearly 600 receiving yards and fifteen touchdowns.
Worst Case Scenario:
James Conner gets beat out for touches in a straight-up contest with Benny Snell. He’s forced to rethink his life, his decisions, and his career. He uses his BSOHL offseason workout body to become The Incredible Hulk 2020, wandering from town to town helping the downtrodden.
[Statistics are sourced from pro-football-reference.com and airyards.com]