James Conner: Who is he?

We all have heard the Le’Veon Bell debacle that has resurfaced over the past couple of days. The Steelers and Bell failed to come to an agreement on a contract extension by the deadline in July, and Bell was set to play on the franchise tag for yet another year after being in the same situation just a year prior. Bell was expected to report around Labor day, and that obviously did not happen. This would go on and on including into Week 1, where the Bell-less Steelers went into Cleveland and tied (yes I know, weird right) 21-21. So, with no end in sight for the Le’Veon Bell situation, who filled in for the Steelers in the backfield? Well that would be none other then PITT product and second-year rusher James Conner.

Who is he?

James Conner is a second-year halfback out of the University of Pittsburgh, as stated above. He is widely regarded as a touching success story, as Conner fought, and beat cancer during his college career. After many doubted that he would ever continue his football career professionally after he was diagnosed with the deadly disease, he found himself suddenly thrown into one of the most storied franchises’ backfield, with big shoes to fill. With the likes of notorious backs such as Franco Harris, Jerome Bettis, and even Le’Veon Bell suiting up for the Steelers in the backfield, Conner clearly had some pressure on him to solidify himself as a premiere back in the league. James Conner was clearly up for the challenge as he was seen bumping music pre game before the week 1 matchup against the Browns, and he appeared ready.

How did he do Week 1?

To put it lightly, Conner did unbelievably well in his first career start. Conner recorded 33 rushes for 135 yards (4.4 average), and even added 5 receptions for 57 yards to go along with his stellar performance on the ground. Conner finished with 2 touchdowns, both on the ground, and the only negative in his stat line on Sunday was the 1 fumble that he lost. Overall, phenomenal game. I personally was very happy to see this young man who has been through so much already in his 23 years of life have success in the NFL. He worked his butt off for this exact moment, and boy did he answer.

When is Bell coming back?

Le’Veon Bell is clearly trying to conserve his body for free agency in 2019. Now, take that how you want it but that’s the hard truth. Each week that Bell misses, he essentially forfeits approximately $855k in a game check. Obviously, this man wants his money, or else he wouldn’t have turned over a lucrative contract extension that the Steelers offered him this season, so it’s hard to imagine Bell missing out on too many of those checks. Le’Veon Bell must report by Week 10, or else he will not receive credit for a full season and effectively will remain under the Steelers control for another year. So, essentially Bell can report anytime from Week 2 to Week 10 because it is quite obvious that Bell will not be forfeiting an accrued season by failing to report by Week 10. If I had to guess, I would air more on the Week 10 side of the scale because there is simply nothing that tells me Bell will report now when he technically doesn’t have to. If this is true, this sucks for lots of people including Bell’s teammates, coaches, and Steelers fans. It also destroys fantasy teams far and wide, and leaves players in despair at the running backs’ absence.

Regardless of who is in the Pittsburgh Steelers backfield, it is clear that they must step up if they want a shot at Super Bowl glory. And if you’re a Le’Veon Bell fantasy owner, chances are is that you have already picked up James Conner who had 29.2 points in Standard scoring leagues in Week 1. Don’t stress over the Bell situation, instead let’s all admire James Conner and his skill that is finally being showcased to all of us.