Shark Bites

Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (toe) put in a limited practice on Wednesday. He's fully expected to play against the Seahawks this weekend, although it'd be nice to see him get in a full workout on Thursday and/or Friday.

X-rays on the toe Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster injured in Sunday night's loss to the Patriots came back clean, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. We'll track his practice participation this week, but JuJu should be fine for Week 2 against Seattle. Even in a complete dud from Pittsburgh's offense in the opener, he racked up 78 yards on 6 receptions.

Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster suffered a toe injury late in Sunday night's loss to the Patriots. He's scheduled for further tests this week but told reporters after the game that he expects to be ready for Week 2. Former NFL head team Dr. David Chao believes Smith-Schuster is dealing with a "mild" sprain of his big toe based on video of the injury. We'll update this situation as we learn more.

Steelers RB Jaylen Samuels is expected to play a big role in the team's passing game this season, according to The Athletic's Mark Kaboly. "The Steelers have been so enamored with his route-running ability that a good chunk of their post-Antonio Brown offense has been modified to incorporate Samuels’ best skills: running routes, catching footballs and creating mismatches," Kaboly writes. Samuels racked up 195 receptions over his final 3 seasons at North Carolina State and then posted a 26-199-3 receiving line on 29 targets as a rookie. He ranked 14th in Pro Football Focus' receiving grades among 62 RBs with 20+ targets last season. Antonio Brown leaves behind 168 targets from a year ago, and it sounds like Samuels is in line to soak up a bunch of those. He has a shot at RB3 value in PPR leagues -- even behind a healthy James Conner.

The Steelers on Sunday activated OLB T.J. Watt off the PUP list. Watt opened camp on the active PUP after experiencing hamstring tightness during the initial conditioning run. He appears good to go now, though.

The Steelers placed OLB T.J. Watt on the PUP list before Friday's opening practice. According to the team website, Watt experienced some hamstring tightness after Thursday's conditioning run. "He may be on for a very short period of time," Tomlin said. "He was able to complete the test. He just expressed some tightness there at the end. So we will do what is appropriate from that standpoint." It doesn't look like IDP owners need to worry about Watt.

Colts TEs Eric Ebron and Jack Doyle were on the field for the 1st day of training camp on Thursday. Both guys are coming off surgery -- groin for Ebron and hip for Doyle -- but are clearly on track for Week 1. We'll be watching this situation closely for clues on how snaps and targets will be divvied among Colts TEs. Doyle actually out-targeted Ebron 33 to 22 in their 6 games together last year.

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.

Colts GM Chris Ballard said WR Deon Cain (knee) is expected to be on the field for training camp but likely won't be back to 100% until "midway" through the season. Last year's 6th-rounder is still rehabbing last August's torn ACL. He was buzzing before that injury and remains a nice dynasty stash. But Cain is a long shot to make a 2019 fantasy impact in a WR corps that added Devin Funchess and Parris Campbell this offseason.

Colts GM Chris Ballard revealed Tuesday that TE Eric Ebron recently had groin surgery, according to multiple reports. The team has yet to specify how long Ebron will be out, but it doesn't seem serious. We'll see whether he's ready for the start of training camp, which is when Jack Doyle's expected to return from his hip issue. Ebron's been overvalued in early drafting after last season's huge TD rate, so it'll also be interesting to see whether this news affects his ADP.

Update: GM Chris Ballard said Ebron's surgery happened in April.

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.

6:12pm EST 12/30/18

Colts TE Eric Ebron (concussion) is active for tonight's game against the Titans. He's totaled just 36 scoreless yards over the past 2 weeks but remains a strong TD bet.

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.

The Colts are "optimistic" about WR T.Y. Hilton (ankle) and TE Eric Ebron's (concussion) status for tonight's game against the Titans, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Hilton is listed as questionable, but there's been no doubt that he'll play. We still don't have official word that Ebron passed through the concussion protocol, but he was trending that way on Friday. Despite the late kickoff, Ebron can be penciled into fantasy lineups.

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.

 
 
 

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