James Conner Injury Update Clouds Fantasy Outlook of Steelers Backfield & Jaylen Samuels in Week 12

Carolina Panthers v Pittsburgh Steelers
Carolina Panthers v Pittsburgh Steelers / Joe Sargent/Getty Images

After missing time with a shoulder injury, James Conner returned for a Week 11 matchup against the Cleveland Browns, only to reaggravate the injury and make an early exit once again.

His status is up in the air for the Pittsburgh Steelers' Week 12 meeting with the Cincinnati Bengals, clouding both Conner and Jaylen Samuels' fantasy outlook.

Members of the Pittsburgh backfield have been banged up all season, and we only have a five-game sample of how the workload is divided when both Conner and Samuels are healthy. Those five games saw Conner average 11.6 carries and 4.0 targets per game, compared to 3.6 carries and 3.0 targets for Samuel. Both have shown to be workhorses when the other sits, though, and in two games as the lone lead back, Conner averaged 12.3 carries and 4.5 targets, while Samuels averaged 11.0 carries and 10.0 targets in his two starts.

Week 12 provides a plus fantasy matchup for the backfield as well. The Bengals have the NFL's worst defense according to Football Outsiders' DVOA metric, and they've given up top-five fantasy production to opposing RBs on the season.

Accounting for Conner suiting up, he sits at RB7 in our Week 12 PPR fantasy football rankings, thanks in part to the terrific matchup. If Conner doesn't play, Samuels' value will explode as a high-end RB2 for the week, making him a near must-start in that scenario.

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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 their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.