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James Conner Fantasy Football Preview



2023 fantasy football preview: James Conner

With 468 touches—including 83 catches on 97 targets—for 2,209 scrimmage yards and 26 TDs over his first two campaigns with the Cardinals, James Conner appears to be teed up for another heavy workload, quite possibly the largest of his career (health permitting).


With Kyler Murray likely to miss the first half of the season (at least) and DeAndre Hopkins in a different uniform, the Cardinals will likely want to limit pass attempts from Colt McCoy/David Blough/Jeff Driskel/Clayton Tune as much as they can.


Which, of course, fits perfectly with the run-heavy histories that new Head Coach Jonathan Gannon and new Offensive Coordinator Drew Petzing bring to the coaching staff.


In 3 seasons where Conner has handled at least 229 touches—which is just 13.4 touches per game over a 17 game season—the Steelers' 2017 3rd round pick finished as fantasy football's RB 6 (2018), RB 5 (2021) and RB 19 (2022).


That's notable considering James Conner is currently being drafted as the RB 28 in early best ball drafts...


In 58 career games where he's handled at least 10 touches, James Conner is averaging a sturdy:

  • 17.4 PPR points per game

  • 18.1 touches—including 3.5 catches on 4.1 targets—per game

  • 89.1 scrimmage yards—including 27.6 receiving yards—per game

  • 0.9 TDs from scrimmage per game (50 total)

  • 0.1 lost fumbles per game (4 total)

Not surprisingly, in 40 career games where Conner handled at least 15 touches, he averaged:

  • 20 PPR points per game

  • 20.9 touches—including 3.9 catches on 4.6 targets—per game

  • 104.7 scrimmage yards—including 32.1 receiving yards—per game

  • 1 TD from scrimmage per game (39 total)

  • 0.1 lost fumbles per game (4 total)

Showing a safe floor, Conner scored 15+ PPR points in 26 of 40 career games (65%) where he's handled at least 15 touches.


And in those 40 games, Conner has more games over 30 PPR points (6) than he has games under 10 PPR points (5), including a career high of 40.3 PPR points in 2021.


Of course, the concern here for Conner is that the 2023 Cardinals' offense will be the worst of his career, and likely to be one of the worst in all of football.


The biggest thing working against Conner is that the Cardinals might be so bad—they're projected for just 4.5 wins—that:

  1. Conner might not see many scoring chances—noteworthy since he's averaging about 1 TD per game.

  2. The Cardinals might get "scripted" out of several games, meaning they fall so far behind that they need to abandon the run and embrace a pass-heavy approach to try and catch up.

Of course, with 190+ vacated targets following the departures of DeAndre Hopkins, AJ Green, Robbie Anderson and more, it's also possible Conner sees increased usage in the passing game as a dump-down option, especially with Kyler Murray on the shelf (mobile QBs don't "dump down" as frequently as pocket passers, opting instead to take off and run).


Health permitting, James Conner *should* get all of the work he can handle in his age 28 season, possibly teeing him up for career highs in touches in 2023.

2023 fantasy football preview James Conner: Mikey is all in on James Conner in 2023

As the unquestioned bellcow back on a bad team, Conner is best approached as a high end RB 2 with upside for more.


Dynasty Leagues: Entering his age 28 season, the clock is ticking on James Conner's fantasy football relevance. Rebuilding teams should look to sell after a hot start. Contending teams should hold.


Redraft Leagues: James Conner is currently the 28th RB drafted in early best ball leagues, drafted around pick 81 overall (late 7th round). He is a screaming value at that price.


Best Ball Leagues: James Conner is currently the 28th RB drafted in early best ball leagues, drafted around pick 81 overall (late 7th round). He is a screaming value at that price.


Max best ball exposure: 25%


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