James Conner And Damien Williams Owners Beware

James Conner
Oct 13, 2019; Carson, CA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner (30) celebrates with wide receiver Diontae Johnson (18) his touchdown scored against the Los Angeles Chargers during the first half at Dignity Health Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The 2020 NFL Draft is now just one week away. While it’s a joyous time of year for the hundreds of players who will be drafted or signed as UDFAs, it can be a melancholy time for some established NFL veterans who could see their starting jobs or even roster spots slip away. Two players who could see a reduced workload in 2020 because of players drafted next Thursday are Pittsburgh Steelers RB James Conner and Kansas City Chiefs RB Damien Williams.

In a piece Shawn Childs wrote for Sports Illustrated, he maps out a handful of players who could tumble down fantasy draft boards after the real-life draft, including one not-yet-drafted rookie. But two current NFL players he highlights are Conner and Williams.

Here’s part of what he had to say about Conner:

Pittsburgh has a long history of having success with a top running back, and they would love to find someone to help rebuild their offense around in 2020.

I’m not dismissing Conner as a possible value at running back this year, but the door is open for him to face more competition for snaps if the NFL draft breaks in Pittsburgh favor at the running back position.

And Williams:

The Chiefs should be aggressive trying to solidify their lead RB position in 2020 as their franchise looked poised to be a top Super Bowl contender for the next decade or so. The new incoming running back has a chance to be a top ten player in 2020 if the Chiefs invest one of their first two draft selections (1.32 and 2.31) on the position.

Conner was thrust into the starting role in the 2018 season after the unexpected season-long hold out by Le’Veon Bell. He continued in the starting role in 2019, but didn’t have as much success and battled injuries. The Steelers have been linked to Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor as a potential second-round pick and he’s be a great fit in Pittsburgh. If that happens, we’ll be looking at more of a timeshare in the Steelers backfield, partly out of need and partly to keep Conner healthy. Conner will still have value, but not in the early rounds.

As for Williams, Andy Reid simply didn’t trust the backs he had last season. Williams was the only one to get 14 or more touches in a game all season. While rookie RBs do have a bigger learning curve in Reid’s offense than the average system, the potential to play meaningful snaps on an elite offense is tantalizing for fantasy owners. Kansas City has been linked to Georgia RB D’Andre Swift with the final pick of the opening round. However, that scenario may cause both Chiefs RBs to be overdrafted in fantasy, because neither will be guaranteed a full workload on any given week.

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