Running back James Conner returned to the Pittsburgh Steelers lineup one week ago after missing the team’s previous two games with an injury.
However, if you were a little late to get to your TV for this past Thursday night’s game, you may not have even known that Conner made his long-awaited return to the playing field. That’s because Conner re-aggravated a previous shoulder injury early on against the Cleveland Browns, knocking him out for the conclusion of the game.
The injury will now leave Pittsburgh without their leading rusher at their disposal come this Sunday.
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James Conner Injury Status for Week 12
It’s official, the Pittsburgh Steelers will be taking the football field without their star running back James Conner on Sunday.
Recent reports circulating believe that the Steelers will already be without a fellow teammate of Conner’s vs. the Cincinnati Bengals, wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster. However, in the midst of informing his twitter followers of that information, Adam Schefter also decided to quickly weigh in on the possibility of the Conner joining Smith-Schuster amongst the Week 12 inactives.
Fantasy Fallout From Conner’s Injury
Losing Conner is certainly a major blow for fantasy football owners this week, mostly due to the fact that he was likely selected in the top-two rounds of nearly every draft this summer.
Prior to sustaining his injury, a healthy Conner had averaged a valiant 27.45 fantasy points over a two-game span. With that said, it’s not as if the running back has been very impressive to the trained eye this season. Conner has averaged 3.9 yards per carry or fewer in all but two games this year, while rushing for 55 yards or less in all but one.
Backup Jaylen Samuels (see Samuels fantasy advice here) had already made it known that he’s ready for a larger role if Conner wouldn’t be able to give it a go.
“I don’t know James’ status yet…whatever his status is, I will be ready to go if he is not ready. If he is ready to go that is a blessing. If he is not, I have to step up. Next man up mentality.”
While Samuels may be ready for a larger role, what he does with that role is a whole other story. Samuel presents PPR upside, as he’s hauled in 21 receptions over the team’s last three games. Unfortunately, that success has not carried over to the run game, where the former N.C. State Wolfpack has averaged just 21.6 rushing yards per game over that same span.
If there was a Steelers running back to be optimistic about this week, it may very well be rookie Bennie Snell (See Snell fantasy advice here), a player who coach Tomlin spoke glowingly about earlier this week.
“I’m excited about the potential return” when discussing Snell. “Who’s coming off a knee injury. He has been cleared to practice this week, and we’ll get him on the field and see what he looks like.
Whoever is leading the way in the Pittsburgh backfield in Week 12, they are presented with a more than welcoming matchup. The Cincinnati Bengals defense has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.
However, don’t go running to insert a Steelers running back in your lineup, as the league’s sixth-worst rush offense has done very little to show they can move the football on the ground. Now, with the potential loss of both their top two receivers, expect Cinci to hone in on the run game.