Following an absence in Week 15, the hope was that Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner would be able to return for the final stretch of the NFL season. After all, the Steelers are battling for the division title and trying to lock up a playoff berth. Unfortunately, it seems Conner’s outlook for the Week 16 matchup with the New Orleans Saints doesn’t look good.
As Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette revealed, Conner is expected to miss another game. Bouchette summed it up by stating that the high-ankle sprain “should cause him to miss a third consecutive game” this weekend.
The Pro Bowl running back even admitted that he’s not 100 percent as well, stating that he can walk fine, but he’s “just not ready yet.”
“I’m trying,” said Conner, who jogged Wednesday but did not practice. “It’s day by day. These high-ankle sprains are deceiving. I can walk around fine, I’m not limping around, but when I’m out there on the field, cutting and stuff, I’m just not ready yet.”
James Conner Getting Limited Work at Practice
Conner hasn’t received much work to this point in practices throughout the week and consistently called himself “day-to-day” while essentially stating he has to be patient throughout the process. He didn’t sound overly optimistic about playing in Week 16 either, which The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly revealed in an interview.
If Conner is indeed unable to play in Sunday’s game against the Saints, it’ll once again be rookie Jaylen Samuels handling the bulk of the work. The former North Carolina State University running back was excellent against the New England Patriots, rolling to 142 yards on 19 carries and playing a vital role in the team’s 17-10 win.
As Andrew Stockey of WTAE revealed, the Steelers have ruled Conner out for Sunday’s game.
Fantasy Outlook For James Conner & Jaylen Samuels
For many fantasy football players, having Conner on your roster likely means you have Samuels, assuming the waiver wire helped you out. But regardless, whichever running back it is or even if you’re considering one of the two in daily fantasy football, this is a tough spot. The Saints run defense has been excellent this season against the run so either player will have their work cut out for them.
New Orleans has allowed just 742 rushing yards on 230 carries with six touchdowns. The good news for either Steelers running back is that the Saints have given up 78 receptions for 607 yards and four additional scores. With the pass-catching ability of both players, there’s still plenty of fantasy upside in Week 16, especially in a game they once again need to win.
Although there may be some better options in DFS in Week 16, for those players who are in the fantasy playoffs still, it’ll be hard to keep whichever player that starts on the bench. If you have Conner and by some chance, he’s good to go, there’s more risk there, but I’d still be open to using him. As for Samuels, his ability as a receiver (12 catches the past three games) helps his value and puts him in play as a fantasy starter once again.