James Conner Injury: Update, Fantasy Football Fallout For Steelers RB

The early reports are encouraging for the Steelers back

Monday night was largely successful for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but it didn’t come without an injury scare.

The Steelers overcame a slow start to beat the New York Giants 26-16 at MetLife Stadium in the first of two games of a season-opening “Monday Night Football” doubleheader.

However, Pittsburgh running back James Conner suffered an ankle injury in the process. Conner, whom Steelers coach Mike Tomlin dubbed the team’s “bell-cow” back a week ago, sprained his ankle early in the game. He rushed six times for only 9 yards before exiting.

Here’s what Conner’s injury means from a fantasy football standpoint:

PROGNOSIS
The good news, if you’re a Steelers fan or Conner owner in fantasy, is the worst-case scenario seems to have been avoided. In fact, Tomlin on Tuesday even left the door open for Conner to be back in the lineup Sunday when the Steelers host the Denver Broncos in Week 2.

THE BACKUP
Given Conner’s injury history — he’s never played more than 14 games in a season — drafting him probably should have been accompanied by a handcuff in deeper leagues. In this case, that probably should have been Benny Snell Jr.

The Kentucky product certainly made the most of his chance to shine, rushing for 113 yards on just 19 carries in relief. In fact, some even believe Snell is the better back and could supplant Conner as the featured back if he gets some extended run in Conner’s potential absence.

WAIVER WIRE OPTIONS
If you don’t have Snell on your lineup and have a strong waiver priority, Los Angeles Rams running back Malcolm Brown should be at or near the top of your list for waiver pickups. LA’s crowded backfield might not be great for his long-term value, but he averaged 4.4 yards per carry with a couple of scores in Week 1 against the Dallas Cowboys while also hauling in three receptions.

Indianapolis Colts running back Nyheim Hines was a bright spot in Indy’s otherwise disappointing Week 1 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. The 2018 fourth-round pick ran for just 28 yards, but he did score a rushing TD in addition to catching a touchdown as part of an eight-reception, 45-yard performance through the air. He’s still readily available in leagues and should get even more touches with Marlon Mack out for the season.

Thumbnail photo via Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports Images

Thumbnail photo via Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports Images