|ADP:||Round: 9, Pick: 10|
|Ht / Wt:||5'11" / 225 lb.|
|Born:||July 20, 1996|
|Drafted:||2018 / Rd. 5 (165)|
Samuels expects the Steelers to use formations that put him and James Conner on the field at the same time, ESPN.com's Jeremy Fowler reports.
Analysis: The double-halfback formation is a common offseason storyline; one that rarely comes to fruition as anything more than an occasional trick during the regular season. It does make more sense than usual given the involvement of Samuels, who often lined up as an H-back or tight end at NC State. There's also the matter of Pittsburgh losing Antonio Brown and Jesse James, leaving the team with shaky depth at wide receiver and tight end. Samuels is far more likely to find his fantasy value from passing downs or a Conner injury, but the potential for two-RB sets at least will be worth monitoring come August and September. Conner already said he expects both Samuels and rookie fourth-round pick Benny Snell to get touches this upcoming season.
Backfield mate James Conner expects Samuels to "make a lot of plays" this season, Jonathan Bombulie of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports.
Analysis: Conner made his comment during a larger conversation about the Steelers potentially dividing snaps between multiple running backs. The third-year pro essentially served as a three-down workhorse in 11 of his 13 games last season, with his snap share falling below 72 percent just twice. One of those instances came in Week 17 when the Steelers used Samuels and Conner in an even timeshare during the latter's first game back from a knee injury. While the injury probably had something to do with that plan, Samuels took advantage of his opportunities in December to make the case for a more consistent role in his second pro season. He was particularly effective as a pass catcher, hauling in 26 of 29 targets for 199 yards (6.9 YPT) and three touchdowns. The Steelers understandably still want Conner to serve as their lead runner, but they'd be wise to put Samuels on the field for most passing downs.
Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert mentioned Samuels as one of the reasons the team is comfortable letting Le'Veon Bell leave, Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.
Analysis: James Conner is also a big part of the equation, not to mention the financial aspect and Bell's fractured relationship with the team. There was never a realistic scenario for Bell to rejoin the Steelers after sitting out an entire season, especially after the team saw what Conner and Samuels are capable of doing. The former should enter training camp unchallenged as a starter, while the latter made a strong case to replace Conner in passing situations, hauling in 26 of 29 targets for 199 yards and three touchdowns as a rookie. Conner was also productive in the passing game, but he doesn't have comparable receiving upside to Samuels, who often lined up as a tight end and H-back at NC State.
Samuels ran twice for two yards and caught seven of eight targets for 40 yards during Sunday's 16-13 win over Cincinnati.
Analysis: Pittsburgh struggled on offense the first half, managing just 27 yards on the ground, and it was no surprise that Samuels was used more as a pass receiving back than a rusher with the return of James Conner (ankle) after a three-game absence. Samuels finishes his rookie season with 56 carries for 256 yards (4.6 average) and 26 catches (on 29 targets) for 199 yards and three touchdowns in 14 games. He has three years remaining on his current contract -- and with Le'Veon Bell (held out) likely to be playing elsewhere next season -- Samuels is the clear backup to James Conner heading in to the 2019 season.
Samuels ran for 53 yards on 12 attempts, adding three receptions for 11 yards and one touchdown during Sunday's 31-28 loss to New Orleans.
Analysis: His eligibility as a tight end on some fantasy outlets will be discussed for generations, but Samuels' production over the past three weeks has resembled that of a low-end RB1 -- 109.3 total yards per game, with 12 receptions and one touchdown during that span. If James Conner (ankle) is ruled out for a fourth consecutive contest in Week 17, Samuels will likely garner double-digit carries once again, while providing the benefit of a pass-catching high floor in PPR formats. Opposing running backs have tortured Cincinnati all season, as the Bengals have allowed 20 total touchdowns to the position in 2018 (second most to only the Bills).
With James Conner (ankle) still out, Samuels is once again slated to head the Pittsburgh backfield in Week 16, Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette reports.
Analysis: Samuels, who racked up 172 total yards against the Patriots last weekend, including 142 yards on 19 carries, is once again in line to serve as the Steelers' top back Sunday, with Stevan Ridley on hand to work in a complementary role. In his third straight start, Samuels will go up against a Saints run defense that has allowed a league-low average of 79.1 rushing yards per game to date. Still, with double-digit carries and involvement in the passing game presumably on tap, Samuels represents a viable Week 16 fantasy lineup option.
Samuels rushed 19 times for 142 yards and brought in both of his targets for 30 yards in the Steelers' 17-10 win over the Patriots on Sunday.
Analysis: Frequently bottled up in Week 14 by a Raiders run defense that was among the worst in the league coming in, Samuels played like a man unleashed Sunday. The rookie frequently found expansive running lanes against an over-matched Patriots front, and he particularly enjoyed success on counter plays that frequently seemed to catch New England defenders off balance. Samuels also appeared to run much more decisively than he had in his starting debut versus the Raiders, and his performance certainly has to give Steelers coaches confidence in his ability to fill for James Conner (ankle) in Week 16 against the Saints if necessary. Conner's outlook for that contest isn't likely to be known until late in the week, so owners of either player will have to monitor the situation frequently heading into the showdown against New Orleans.
Samuels is expected to retain his starting role in the Steelers' backfield with James Conner (ankle) likely unavailable Sunday, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports.
Analysis: Samuels should get the majority of the work out of the backfield, similar to Week 14 when the rookie compiled 92 total yards off of 18 touches, but Stevan Ridley wound up vulturing a late red zone touchdown in that contest, mitigating Samuels' fantasy value. With James Conner (ankle) expected to return to the field in Week 16, Sunday's contest against the Patriots might be one of the last opportunities for Samuels to showcase his versatile skillset this season.
Samuels' role in the Steelers offense could take a hit with James Conner (ankle) questionable for Sunday's game versus the Patriots, Teresa Varley of the team's official site reports.
Analysis: With Conner out of the lineup last Sunday in Oakland, Samuels earned the majority of the snaps (48 of on offense) among active Pittsburgh running backs. Samuels also outpaced Stevan Ridley in touches (18 to five) and yards from scrimmage (92 to four), but the latter did score a touchdown. If Conner returns this weekend, all bets are off as to how much work Samuels and Ridley reasonably can expect to see. However, the above breakdown may be the reality if Conner sits out again, helping Samuels maintain relevance for another week.
Samuels rushed 11 times for 28 yards and brought in all seven of his targets for 64 yards in the Steelers' 24-21 loss to the Raiders on Sunday.
Analysis: Samuels couldn't deliver much on the ground, but he did offer a pretty decent James Conner (knee) impression through the air. The rookie appeared to lack explosiveness on many of his runs, although he also appeared to have precious little in terms of running room on some of his carries. Samuels could be in line for another starting opportunity in a critical Week 15 matchup versus the Patriots if Conner remains sidelined, although it's possible that veteran Stevan Ridley also logs more than the five carries he saw Sunday.
Samuels, who will start Sunday's game against the Raiders, said he received more first-team work than fellow running back Stevan Ridley during the Steelers' practices this week, but only by a small margin, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com reports.
Analysis: The Steelers are without James Conner (ankle) for the first time all season, leaving Samuels, a rookie fifth-round pick, as the next man up on the depth chart to fill the backfield void. Though his skills as a pass catcher make him a more viable fantasy option in Week 14 than Ridley, Samuels' comments point to the Steelers making use of both players rather than just handing Samuels the lead role outright. Even so, Samuels' status as a tight end-eligible player in certain fantasy formats makes him worthy of including in lineups at least in those leagues, with the North Carolina State also offering a modicum of upside in leagues where he's only usable at running back or in a flex spot.
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