Jaylen Samuels Carving Out Standalone Fantasy Role in Steelers' Offense - Roto Street Journal
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Jaylen Samuels Carving Out Standalone Fantasy Role in Steelers’ Offense

After a breakout year in 2018, James Conner has predictably been the talk of the Steelers backfield heading into the 2019 season. But don’t forget about Jaylen Samuels, who enters his 2nd year as Conner’s backup on the depth chart. Samuels became a fantasy household name and postseason savior when Conner missed Weeks 14 through 16 to injury last year and should see a significant bump in playmaking opportunities in 2019, leaving fantasy owners with a lot to sort out regarding Pittsburgh’s backfield. 

Samuels’ top priority this offseason was becoming more of a “pure runner” — mainly focusing on straight line speed and quickness in his cuts. He’s clearly made some progress, and Pittsburgh’s coaches are taking note — while James Conner is reportedly being treated with “kid gloves” to keep him fresh, Samuels is dominating the backfield at Steelers practices. He’s been referred to as OC Randy Fichtner’s “Christmas toy that he didn’t learn to play with until the following year,” which reflects his ability to line up anywhere on the field and make an offensive impact.

Samuels had just 8 offensive snaps in Pittsburgh’s first preseason game while Benny Snell paced the offense, but Snell is a rookie that needs the work. If anything, Samuels’ lack of usage further indicates the value the Steelers see in him heading into this year.

Conner will obviously enter the season as the Steeler’s RB1 and will likely be a top 10 back, but Samuels’ potential as a penny stock and possible injury handcuff makes him an intriguing prospect come draft time. Our own Wolf has Samuels as his RB45 — 5 spots ahead of the experts’ consensus — and he’s getting drafted as late as the middle of the 10th round. Considering the potential value he brings into 2019 and the low draft capital you can use to get him, his Penny Stock Status has never shone brighter.

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