Obviously the injury to Ben Roethlisberger, who has been lost for the season with an elbow injury, leaving Mason Rudolph to start under center is going to have a significant impact on all of Pittsburgh’s skill players. Could anyone’s stock actually rise due to the injury? How far will the bulk of the options fall? Let’s take a quick look:
James Conner – Running Back
Conner also came out of Sunday’s game banged up, though his knee injury is currently being considered minor and the hope is he’ll play in Week 3. Whether he does or not remains to be seen, but regardless the loss of Roethlisberger is going to have a significant impact as opposing defenses will be able to focus more on stopping Conner. That obviously doesn’t mean that he’s dropping very far down the rankings, as his importance to the offense grows, though we also can’t ignore the concerns we had prior to the season.
A lot of his success in ’18 was buoyed by one big month, as you can see by his yards/carry by month:
- September – 3.7
- October – 5.7
- November – 4.2
- December – 4.3
He’s managed just 2.6 yards/carry over the first two weeks and with defenses focusing even more on stopping the run his upside becomes even more questionable. He is a factor in the passing game, which will help, but instead of a potential RB1 he’ll likely be capped as a RB2.
Stock – Falling
JuJu Smith-Schuster – Wide Receiver
Does anyone believe that he’ll be anything but a WR1? Maybe the quarterback change keeps him outside the Top 5 most weeks, but he’ll still be among the best options in the league on a week-to-week basis.
Stock – Falling (but just slightly)
James Washington – Wide Receiver
It’s easy to overlook, but Washington has a history with Rudolph as college teammates. Just look at the numbers Washington put up over their final three years together at Oklahoma State:
- 2015 – 53 receptions, 1,087 yards and 10 TD
- 2016 – 71 receptions, 1,380 yards and 10 TD
- 2017 – 74 receptions, 1,549 yards and 13 TD
You can argue that there will be some boom or bust to his performance, but the rapport is strong and there’s no question that Washington was getting an expanded role in the offense even before the injury to Roethlisberger. At the least he’s on the WR3 radar, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see some WR2-type performances.
Stock – Rising
Vance McDonald – Tight End
He was a questionable option before the loss of Roethlisberger, but at this point is he a player you want to trust? Maybe he’s an important safety valve and has some strong weeks, but he’s more TE2 with potential as opposed to a trustworthy TE1.
Stock – Falling
Sources – ESPN, NFL.com
Make sure to check out all of our Week 3 rankings: