Cardinals high-flying RB James Conner missed Week 16 with an ankle injury. His presence in Week 17 would be a boon for fantasy football managers who invested in him, but also a painful pie in the face for managers banking on another big Chase Edmonds performance. What is Conner’s injury outlook for this weekend, and what might we expect from him and/or Edmonds?
James Conner’s Week 17 injury and fantasy outlook
Conner’s injury and fantasy outlook in Week 17 is concerning for three reasons. First, he’s missed games due to injury in the second half of each season of his career, dating back to 2017. In the five games when he’s returned to the field after an injury absence, he’s averaged only 9.9 fantasy points. In each of those contests, he was the unquestioned lead back. Simply put, his track record returning from an injury is — at a minimum — concerning.
Second, he’s now splitting a backfield with Edmonds, a highly undervalued RB who’s taken a backseat for much of this season due to Conner’s greater usage near the end zone. It also didn’t help that Edmonds was on the injured reserve for several weeks. But after Edmonds’ huge Week 16 performance, it’s fair to wonder if Conner’s days as Arizona’s “lead” fantasy back are over, at least for this year.
And that brings us to the talent gap between Conner and Edmonds. This might seem controversial, but it shouldn’t be. Conner is averaging only 3.7 yards per carry, benefitting from an outsized 16 touchdowns in only 14 games. That’s simply not sustainable. As I’ll share below, Edmonds has played far better between the 20s.
If Conner is active this week, realistically, he’ll need to score against a tough Cowboys run defense that is giving up the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing backfields. I’m tagging Conner as an RB4-floor, RB3-ceiling option — not what managers would have hoped for.
Chase Edmonds’ Week 17 fantasy outlook
If Conner sits, our decision is easy. Edmonds would be a bell cow with high-RB2 upside and maybe a mid-range RB3 floor. He is superb in the passing game, logging 91 catches for 684 yards in his last 27 games despite frequently splitting snaps with other RBs (such as Conner).
He’s also averaging 5.5 yards per carry — nearly 2 more yards per rushing attempt than Conner. The problem is that he only has 2 touchdowns.
Edmonds is certainly not allergic to the end zone, having racked up 10 scores on only 222 touches in his previous two seasons. But this year, Conner’s been getting first dibs, which has hurt Edmonds in the fantasy realm.
So if Conner can play, all bets are off regarding Edmonds, whose usage would be capped at about 10-12 touches. Although receptions might keep him in the RB4 conversation, I’d be very concerned about Conner or even Kyler Murray poaching a goal-line touchdown, rendering Edmonds more valuable on the field than in the fantasy box score. He would be a desperation streamer.