James Conner: A League Winner?

Kate Magdziuk
Rotoworld

As we look to close out Week 10, it's time to look at your rosters and make big-time decisions on who it is you think can carry you to and through the fantasy championships. No more messing around - who has the plus-matchups you need for that extra boom? Who's worth the risk? 

Buys of the Week

James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

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If there's one thing that's become painfully obvious in the absence of James Conner, it's that he is the core of the Steelers Offense. Conner has missed the team's last two outings due to a shoulder injury sustained versus the Miami Dolphins. Since that time, the Steelers have struggled to pack a punch in the run game and have missed the safety valve he provides Mason Rudolph in the passing game.

The good news? Per Mike Tomlin, Conner should be good to go for Thursday Night Football in Week 11. Since Week 3, Conner is averaging the third-most fantasy points per game among running backs in half-PPR formats and has lead the Steelers in touchdown conversion rate in the end zone. He’s averaged a score per game since that time, and while healthy, it appears his involvement in the passing game isn’t bound to slow down either.

The Steelers offensive line hasn't been playing up to standard since coach the departure of Mike Munchak, and the perfect cure for that is to match up against a poor rushing defense. To close out the fantasy season, Conner will face five teams ranking in the top-13 for fantasy points allowed to the running back position. If he can manage to stay healthy to finish out the season (which might be an uphill battle), he’s an easy candidate for a league winner in virtually any fantasy football scoring format.

Kenny Golladay, WR, Detroit Lions

It’s finally happening. Kenny Golladay is looking like the true WR1 that fantasy owners pined for through 2018. He ranks as the WR7in half-PPR formats through his nine games played. Since Week 5, Golladay has racked up the third-most air yards among wide receivers, ranks first in average depth of target among wide receivers with 15 or more targets in that span, and third in the number of touchdowns scored (4). 

Unfortunately, the Lions received news that Matthew Stafford could miss several weeks as he suffers from broken bones in his back. For the time being, it’s possible that it’s the Jeff Driskel show. Not to fear, fantasy owners. In 2019, Tyler Boyd ranked 18th in points per game with Driskel under center - respectable WR2 numbers. It’s difficult to come by a solid wide receiver with the possibility to create yards after the catch. Capitalize on the fantasy owners who are fearful of a life without Stafford and reap the benefits of his tremendous upside. 

Editor's Note: Here are some of the top guys to target for trades, but who should you give up? Plug your trade props into our Season Pass Trade Analyzer to make sure you're coming out on top of every deal!

Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants

Saquon Barkley is without a doubt one of the most naturally gifted runners we’ve had the pleasure to lay eyes on… but he hasn’t quite looked like it since returning from a sprained ankle in Week 7. Since that game, Barkley has averaged just 2.58 yards per carry and has as many rushes of 10+ yards than Mark Walton, J.D. McKissic, and Alexander Mattison (3). We should presume the possibility that Barkley is not quite 100% healthy. To make matters worse, Barkley required x-rays after managing just one yard on 11 carries Sunday against the Jets Defense. Pat Shurmur noted that Barkley was “banged up,” but luckily, the Giants head into the bye week just in time to give their young centerpiece some time to recover.

After their bye week, the Giants face Chicago, Green Bay, Philadelphia, Miami, and Washington - four teams ranking top eight in fantasy points allowed to the running back position. It’s just the ticket to get Barkley back on track, should he have the opportunity to return at least somewhat healthy in 2019. It’s inadvisable for just anyone to trade for Barkley, but if you’re staring down the barrel of fantasy playoffs and have a nice lead, he’s a high-risk, mega-reward asset. 

Dede Westbrook, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

Former Super Bowl MVP, Nick Foles, is set to return this week as the Jaguars’ starting quarterback after being placed on injured reserve for a broken clavicle suffered just 11 snaps into Week 1. With that move comes time to consider whether or not it’s time to make a move for Dede Westbrook. Westbrook has had a disappointing start to the season after being featured on the Jaguars hype train as a breakout candidate for 2019.

Westbrook is currently the WR62 in half-PPR formats, but it’s not impossible to see the upside moving forward given the rapport we'd heard so much about in the offseason. In Foles’ only preseason game under center with Westbrook in 2019, Westbrook soaked up seven of his 10 targets and only score of the game. Through the fantasy playoffs, the Jaguars face off against Buccaneers, Chargers, Raiders and Falcons - three of the top four teams in fantasy points allowed to the wide receiver position. Westbrook is a low-risk, low-cost acquisition that could explode in these plus matchups to win your fantasy championships.

Sell of the Week

Marlon Mack, RB, Indianapolis Colts

Marlon Mack entered the 2019 season looking as though he was ready to blow up opponents' fantasy teams. He finishes Week 10 as RB16 in half-PPR formats, despite managing just twelve receptions and three scores so far on the season. Most of his damage has been done on the ground, as Mack remains on pace for over 1,300 rushing yards, ranks ninth in yards after contact and 12th in avoided tackles.

To close out the fantasy football season, Mack sees three of the toughest rushing defenses in the NFL in the Saints, Buccaneers and Texans - each of whom have allowed just three or fewer rushing touchdowns on the season. Despite his production on the ground, it’s hard to imagine his upside through the fantasy playoffs given this schedule and minimal usage in the passing game. He’s seen just three rushing attempts inside the five-yard line, a disappointment for a workhorse back like Mack, who's on pace for more than 300 carries for the season. If you can spin his proficiency on the ground and name value for a player with a better schedule (perhaps a James Conner), it could pay dividends through your championship weeks.

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