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Jaylen Samuels (RB, PIT) - 2019 Fantasy Football Sleeper


BALLER MOVE: Target Around ~130 Overall

Current ADP: ~140

This is probably the most obvious name on the list of handcuffs with standalone value. James Conner is a top pick in fantasy leagues. Jaylen Samuels' role isn't clearly defined just yet. The preseason will likely give us some greater insight into how the Steelers plan to use Samuels, but right now, we have a lot of coach speak about how they have packages for Samuels and he will be on the field with Conner.

I love Samuels because he has the talent, athletic profile, and size to be a three-down back in the event of a Conner injury. We also know this because we saw it last season. Samuels played RB, WR, and TE in college. He is an excellent receiver and can run legitimate routes. He is a far better pass catcher than Conner, which is not to say Conner is a bad receiver - he's just your typical solid pass-catching RB whereas Samuels is an actual receiver. He had a 20.2% college target share (97th percentile) and posted an 89.7% catch rate as a rookie. I think he is better at football than Conner.

There are multiple paths to a Samuels RB1 season. The easiest path is a Conner injury. But the reason Samuels is so valuable is that he doesn't need a Conner injury to succeed. Samuels can be a viable RB3 in tandem with Conner. Samuels also has the talent to work himself into a pure timeshare with Conner and potentially even take the job without Conner getting hurt. And when we're talking about a Conner injury, it doesn't have to be a season-ender. Conner can tweak something minor, miss one or two games, and not come back to his job because Samuels is that good.

Now, please don't mistake any of this for me suggesting it is easily going to happen. Conner could stay healthy, play well, and be the RB1 he is being drafted as. Even if that happens, Samuels should still be a useful asset. He is the exact type of player you want - a useful asset that has multiple paths to being a very good or even great asset.


Check out RotoBaller's famous fantasy football draft sleepers and waiver wire pickups list, updated regularly!