Fantasy Reaction: Arizona Cardinals Sign RB James Conner

Senior expert Michael Fabiano breaks down the fantasy impact of the Arizona Cardinals adding running back James Conner
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The Cardinals added a big runner to their backfield, signing James Conner to a one-year deal. Conner, 25, figures to see the early-down and goal-line work in a backfield committee with incumbent veteran Chase Edmonds. That sort of scenario is not what you would call ideal for either runner in the world of fantasy football.

Conner was considered a top fantasy back in 2018, when he helped lead many fans to a postseason berth in Le'Veon Bell's absence. He produced more than 1,400 scrimmage yards and 13 touchdowns, and ranked sixth in fantasy points among runners despite missing three games. Unfortunately, he’s been a shell of that player lately. In the last two seasons, Conner has missed nine games and was mostly an afterthought for fantasy fans down the stretch of 2020 as the Steelers went to a pass-heavy attack.

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He also had toe surgery earlier in the offseason. Still, he's expected to be back at 100 percent in plenty of time for the start of training camp and the regular season.

Now in the desert, Conner will be tough to trust as more than a flex starter. In fact, some would argue that Edmonds, who will be the pass-catching option for head coach Kliff Kingsbury, is a more attractive choice in drafts if he’s being selected behind Conner. I’d steer clear of leaning on either runner in a prominent role next season, as durability in Conner’s case in workload for Edmonds will lead to some uneven statistical lines.

In Pittsburgh, the Steelers are now left with Benny Snell Jr., Anthony McFarland and Kalen Ballage atop the depth chart in their backfield. Snell is likely the most attractive of the bunch from a fantasy standpoint, at least for now. Pittsburgh could look to add a featured back in the NFL draft, someone like North Carolina’s Javonte Williams, so stay tuned to who will become the eventual replacement for Conner in the Steel City.

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Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on Sports Illustrated and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. You can follow Michael on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram for all of the latest breaking fantasy football news and the best analysis in the business!

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