In an interview with Dale Lolley, Steelers RB James Conner commended RB Benny Snell Jr. for his Week 1 performance against the Giants. "I thought his performance was good, 100 yards, closing the game out at the end with good, hard running, falling forward," Conner said. "I see a guy who has been constantly improving. It's so cool to see."
Conner was being diplomatic regarding Snell's performance, but Snell did make the Steelers offense well-rounded and looked better than Conner for at least one week. Conner is questionable for Sunday's game against the Denver Broncos, so it is unknown how involved Snell will be Sunday.
It is important to note that Bouchette's assertion came in the form of a reply to a 'mailbag' question. Bouchette opined that Snell could earn an expanded role if he continues to play well and Conner misses time. He would go on to state that while stealing the job outright from an injured starter is not unheard of, that he expects Conner to be the lead back upon his return. Bouchette would then add this: "If Conner is ineffective when he returns and Snell is clearly better, they’ll make the switch". This is potentially damning news for Conner's already tenuous fantasy value, as he is at his best in a high volume role. Snell is our 31st ranked running back for Week 2.
HC Mike Tomlin says he'll discover the division of labor for RBs week in and week out. Says his room is diverse and he wants to utilize the diversity of talent. But - "there is no question about who our bell cow is. It's James Conner and he's our primary toter."
The big issue with Conner, of course, is staying healthy. Conner is ranked 15th on our RB list. The team drafted McFarland this past spring but have continued to say Conner is their guy. Most depth charts list Snell as the team's RB2, and given Conner's injury history, owning his handcuff probably isn't a bad idea.
RB Benny Snell Jr.'s growth as a player has not gone unnoticed by head coach Mike Tomlin and offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner, according to Mark Kaboly of The Athletic. “That level that Benny Snell is at right now and his growth in his second year (are) the kind of things that come (with) growth and happen over the course of one season,” Fichtner said Thursday. “He has put himself in a unique situation now because he is in good condition, and his usefulness and his knowledge is getting better every day.”
Snell Jr. dominated in one-on-one drills including against standout LB Devin Bush. Snell Jr. is one snap away from taking over the lead back roles from James Conner, who has had a number of injuries in his career. Tomlin also prefers a lead dog backfield, making Snell Jr. that much more attractive as a handcuff in fantasy drafts.