James Conner Fantasy Football Value Climbing Amidst RB Contract Concerns

Jason Schandl
Pittsburgh Steelers v Cincinnati Bengals
Pittsburgh Steelers v Cincinnati Bengals / Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The season hasn't even started, and already it's a war of attrition among first-round fantasy football running backs.

Melvin Gordon's average draft position (ADP) has fallen out of the first round amidst contract disputes, and Ezekiel Elliott may follow suit. Concerns around Todd Gurley's knee has caused him to fall out of the first round.

With players around him dropping, James Conner has held steady, and is now being drafted as a top-10 pick on average. That could prove to be a great investment.

James Conner Stats 2018

Despite missing three games last season, Conner scored the sixth-most fantasy points among all running backs – only being out-scored by RBs with at least 14 games played.

He had massive shoes to fill replacing Le'Veon Bell, and the Steelers let him shine with a huge workload, averaging 16.5 carries and 5.5 targets per game. He converted that into 1,470 yards and 13 touchdowns.

James Conner 2019 Fantasy Outlook

The Steelers' offense has been a gold mine for fantasy production in the past. They have placed a running back in the top 10 for fantasy production in each of the last five seasons, doing so with three different backs.

Only two of the running backs being drafted ahead of James Conner in 2019 averaged more opportunities (carries plus targets) per game than Conner's 22.0 last year, and one of those two is Ezekiel Elliott -- who is threatening a holdout.

When you're drafting an RB in the first round, you obviously want them to offer big upside, and Conner showed that last year with 28-plus fantasy points in five of his 13 games.

You also want a player that isn't going to sink your fantasy team though. No RB is safe from injury concerns, but you can do yourself a favor by not adding contract issues into the mix.

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Jason Schandl is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Jason Schandl also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jaymun. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.