Shark Bites for Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 | Shark Bites | Draft Sharks

Shark Bites

Steelers insider Mark Kaboly calls Donte Moncrief a "slam-dunk" #2 WR after an impressive spring with his new team. Moncrief also drew praise from QB Ben Roethlisberger for his work ethic and ability to pick up the offense. The former Colt and Jaguar has been an enigma throughout his career, disappointing fantasy owners more often than not. But he's not even 26 yet and has always possessed an intriguing combination of size and athleticism. Antonio Brown's departure, of course, leaves tons of opportunity in Pittsburgh's WR corps. We're still not counting out James Washington in the battle for the #2 WR spot and will also be keeping an eye on rookie Diontae Johnson. But Moncrief looks like the Steeler WR to target later in fantasy drafts right now.

If you ask Steelers RB James Conner about how the team plans to divvy touches among him, Jaylen Samuels and rookie Benny Snell this season, you might get scared off drafting him in Round 1. "I think it'll be spread out pretty evenly," Conner said Wednesday, according to Jonathan Bombulie of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. We would certainly bet on Pittsburgh siphoning a bit of Conner's work for the other guys in the backfield. But he drew 62.3% of Steelers carries last season, the league's 6th largest share -- despite missing 3 games. Conner's 76% share of team carries over his 13 games would have led all RBs for the season. So he can shed some work and still deliver RB1 numbers in fantasy. His targets could be more in danger, though. Conner drew 12.5% of Pittsburgh looks over his 13 games last year, which would have ranked 15th among RBs for the season. In the lone game he shared with Samuels after returning from the ankle sprain, Conner carried 14 times vs. Samuels' 2 but drew just 3 targets to Samuels' 8. Of course, more targets figure to be available overall, with Antonio Brown gone. And last year's 2nd most pass-heavy offense could lean further toward the run in 2019 -- which would boost carry volume. We'll see how things progress in the Pittsburgh backfield this summer.

The Steelers have been using RBs James Conner and Jaylen Samuels in the same backfield during some plays in OTAs, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I think that could be kind of special with me and [Conner] in the backfield," Samuels said. "Me and him in the game, period. We’re just building on from that right now… He’s more of a runner and a catcher, as well, but I can get outside and run routes, as well. To have that dual threat with me and him in the game, it could be really scary for defenses.” Conner was excellent as Pittsburgh's feature back for 13 games last season. But Samuels also impressed when given a shot, racking up 223 yards on 5.3 yards per carry and a 12-105-1 receiving line in 3 starts late in the year. There are touches to go around this season with Antonio Brown's departure, and Samuels has the receiving ability to capture some of them. He's an intriguing later-round pick in fantasy drafts.

The Steelers selected RB Benny Snell in Round 4 of the NFL Draft. The 5'10, 224-pounder posted big rushing numbers at Kentucky, topping 1,000 yards in each of his 3 seasons en route to career totals of 3,873 yards and 48 rushing scores. He caught a just-decent 29 passes but flashed worthwhile hands on tape. In Pittsburgh, Snell will have to battle Jaylen Samuels to back up James Conner. Samuels showed well late in 2018, with Conner out. The starter will be in the final year of his rookie contract in 2020, giving Snell a bit of appeal later in dynasty rookie drafts. He doesn't look like an asset to chase, though.

The Steelers selected Toledo WR Diontae Johnson in the 3rd round of the 2019 NFL Draft. The 5'10, 183-pounder tested as a 13th percentile athlete at the Combine. But he's 1 of the better route runners in this class and racked up 2,039 yards and 21 TDs over the past 2 years. Frankly, we didn't expect Johnson to come off the board this early -- but the Steelers have earned the benefit of the doubt when it comes to drafting WRs. NFL.com's Lance Zierlein compares Johnson to former Steeler Emmanuel Sanders.

The Steelers have moved up from 20th to 10th in the 1st round of the NFL Draft to select LB Devin Bush. The former Michigan LB delivered the class' 2nd-best speed score at the position (121.5) and ranked 8th in the class in 2018 sacks per game (0.38). Bush supplied just 44 and 41 solo tackles over 2 seasons as a starter. He should fight for a starting job right away at a position where the Steelers' top 2 played 71% and 54% of the snaps last season. Pittsburgh also added former Ram Mark Barron in free agency.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that WR Donte Moncrief and the Steelers have agreed to a 2-year deal. Moncrief ranked 2nd among Jaguars with 89 targets in his lone Jacksonville season, catching 48 balls for 668 yards and 3 TDs. The targets, receptions and yards were each his 2nd-best career marks, while the 3 TDs tied his 2nd-highest. Moncrief figures to compete with 2nd-year WR James Washington for the #2 WR gig behind JuJu Smith-Schuster. We'd bet on Washington's upside first, but the ADP of each player will be interesting to watch and factor heavily into which is the better fantasy football draft value.

Steelers ILB Vince Williams (toe) is inactive for today's game against the Bengals, as expected. He entered the day doubtful.

2:12pm EST 12/30/18

Steelers RB James Conner (ankle) is active for today’s game against the Bengals. He put in 3 practices this week and passed his final test in pregame warmups. We’re expecting Conner to step back in as Pittsburgh’s lead back, with RB Jaylen Samuels in a change-of-pace role.

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport confirms that Steelers RB James Conner (ankle) is expected to return for today's game against the Bengals. "But the team wants to see how he is after he warms up to be sure," Rapoport adds. Conner got in 3 full practices this week, so it'd be a major surprise if he didn't play. We won't get Pittsburgh's inactives until 3 pm ET, but Conner can be penciled into fantasy lineups.

Steelers ILB Vince Williams (toe) is doubtful for Sunday's finale against the Bengals. That likely means more playing time for L.J. Fort, but no Pittsburgh ILB has given us consistent enough playing time to be worth trusting in IDP lineups this week.

Steelers RB James Conner (ankle) is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Bengals. He was a full-go in practice all week, though, putting him on track to play. Conner might cede some passing-down work to Jaylen Samuels, but we’re expecting him to step back in as Pittsburgh’s lead back.

10:12am EST 12/28/18

The Steelers have placed K Chris Boswell on IR with an undisclosed injury. Boswell struggled throughout the season, connecting on just 13 of 20 FG attempts and 43 of 48 XPs. He'll be a free agent this offseason. Pittsburgh signed K Matthew McCrane to replace Boswell. McCrane went just 5 of 9 on FGs with the Raiders earlier this season, so we'd lean against using him in Week 17 fantasy lineups.

Steelers RB James Conner (ankle) was listed as a full participant in Wednesday's practice. That presumably puts him on track to return for this weekend's game against the Bengals. Conner might lose more work than he had been to Jaylen Samuels, but that matchup will make him a strong Week 17 fantasy play.

Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (groin) is active for today’s game against the Saints. He got hurt on Thursday and didn’t practice on Friday — but JuJu announced via Twitter on Saturday that he’d play in this one. Smith-Schuster comes with more risk than usual but still boasts WR1 upside.

Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (groin) says he'll play against the Saints tomorrow. He's officially listed as questionable after injuring his groin on Thursday and not practicing on Friday. "A lot on the line this week. The whole season comes down to this," JuJu tweeted. "Yes, I’m talking about the fantasy football championship round. Of course I’m playing Sunday!!! Theres no way I can let down the real ones who believed in me by drafting me!! Let’s get it!!" What a hero. Smith-Schuster comes with more risk than usual this week but still carries top 5 upside.

Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (groin) is listed as questionable for this weekend’s game against the Saints. After getting hurt on Thursday, he didn’t practice on Friday. G Ramon Foster did say that Smith-Schuster took part in Friday’s walkthrough, and WR Antonio Brown expects his teammate to play. We’ll look for an update on JuJu Sunday morning. Steelers-Saints doesn’t kick off until 4:25 pm ET. If Smith-Schuster can’t play, James Washington is expected to step in as Pittsburgh’s #2 WR.

Steelers RB James Conner (ankle) remained sidelined all week and is out for Sunday’s game against the Saints. So Jaylen Samuels gets another game as lead back. It’s a tough draw against a stout Saints run defense, but Samuels can do damage in the passing game. He’s a RB2 with more value in PPR lineups.

Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster left Thursday's practice after injuring his groin, according to The Athletic's Mark Kaboly. Smith-Schuster didn't speak to reporters afterward, so that's the only info we have right now. We'll see if he's able to get back on the practice field tomorrow, but fantasy owners should make sure they have another option lined up. James Washington would likely move into the starting lineup if JuJu can't play against the Saints on Sunday.

Steelers RB James Conner (ankle) remained sidelined on Thursday. He's shaping up as a long shot to play against the Saints this weekend. Look for Jaylen Samuels to again serve as Pittsburgh's feature back in the Superdome.

 
 
 

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