Fantasy Football Week 14: Big questions center around Stevan Ridley, Jaylen Samuels, Jeff Wilson, Alshon Jeffery

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Surprise: We're going to talk a lot about Jaylen Samuels in this piece this week. We're going to talk a lot about Samuels this week in general. In our written content, on our podcast, on our CBS Sports HQ shows ... it's the hot topic this week, with James Conner sidelined for at least this Sunday's game.

Jamey Eisenberg, Dave Richard and Heath Cummings will give you their takes on the Steelers' backfield, as well as their top options on waivers, and more, but I want to get some thoughts on the Steelers' backfield down, too. Samuels is obviously the guy to get — after all, he scored a touchdown last week after Conner's injury, while Stevan Ridely didn't even see the field despite being active.

But there are some interesting factors at play with this situation, and not all of them point in the same direction at the same time. For one thing, this is not a team that typically splits work in the backfield: When Le'Veon Bell sat out four games in 2016, DeAngelo Williams got 106 touches, while all other running backs combined for 11 touches. If the Steelers settle on a back as their lead option, history tells us that guy is going to get fed early and often.

On the other hand, there is basically no history of Samuels being a workhorse. His career high in carries over four seasons in college was 12 carries, and his senior year of high school saw him get just 109 carries in 16 games. As a junior in high school, he played wide receiver. That versatile skill set fits in with a lot of what Pittsburgh likes to do -- and helps explain why he is tight end eligible in Yahoo! Fantasy leagues -- but it shouldn't make you optimistic about his chances to dominate work for the Steelers.

All that is to say, while we're going to see a lot of Samuels, and we should be excited about it, don't discount Ridley when waivers run. He started in Week 17 last year and rushed for 80 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. He could just as easily wind up getting 12-15 carries for the Steelers, in Week 14 against the Raiders (Sunday, 4 p.m. EST, available on fuboTV) and beyond.

Now, let's see what Jamey, Dave, and Heath have to say:

1. How do you expect work to be split up in the Steelers' backfield?

  • Jamey Eisenberg: Jaylen Samuels should get 70 percent of the touches, even though most of it will likely come on passing downs. He should get the priority touches as well, meaning at the goal line. I like the chances of Stevan Ridley playing well this week. But I love the upside for Samuels now that James Conner (ankle) is out.
  • Dave Richard: I'm expecting Stevan Ridley and Jaylen Samuels to split the early down work and for Samuels to handle the passing situations and goal-line opportunities. This is until Ridley gets hurt or until Ben Roethlisberger realizes he likes having Samuels' versatility in the backfield, at which point Samuels will dominate the workload. 
  • Heath Cummings: It's maybe the most important question of the week and one of the hardest. There are two conflicting pieces of information: The Steelers generally don't use RBBC, and they said they're going to use RBBC. Samuels has never been a workhorse back at any level, so I'm expecting a near even split in carries between him and Ridley. I do expect Samuels to get most of the work in the passing game and be a top-20 back in PPR.

 2. If I have to win this week, who is the top waiver-wire target?

  • Eisenberg: Samuels. He's playing the Raiders.
  • Richard: Samuels is first up, followed by Justin Jackson, then Jeffrey Wilson.
  • Cummings: I'm going with Jeff Wilson. The 49ers gave him 15 carries last week and he saw nine targets in the same game. Matt Breida has already been ruled out,  and I feel more comfortable with Wilson's workload than Samuels'.

3. If I don't have to win this week, who is the top waiver-wire target?

  • Eisenberg: Samuels. We don't know how long Conner will be out. If this is a multi-week injury then you want Samuels on your roster.
  • Richard: You mean if you have a bye? Samuels is still first up, followed by Wilson, then Jackson.
  • Cummings: I'll stick with Wilson. We don't really know if Breida's or Conner's injury is more significant, so I'll stick with the guy I like this week.

4. Which universally owned players are you dropping this week?

  • Eisenberg: Alshon Jeffery (97 percent), DeSean Jackson (86 percent), Sterling Shepard (86 percent), Trey Burton (86 percent) and Duke Johnson (86 percent).
  • Richard: There isn't a definitive answer -- many names are listed in the Cut List. But I'm expecting to see Dak Prescott, Alshon Jeffery and Trey Burton flood most of my leagues' waivers.
  • Cummings: I'm fine with dropping Duke Johnson, Dion Lewis, Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson. I'm not even sure Jackson will play again this year.

5. Who is your top plug-and-play QB for Week 14?

  • Eisenberg: Josh Allen. He's been better as a waiver-wire quarterback than Lamar Jackson the past two games, and he has an easier matchup in Week 14 against the Jets.
  • Richard: Baker Mayfield is too widely owned to be named here, so I'll say Josh Allen. He's got a treat matchup against the Jets at home. Use him over Marcus Mariota or Lamar Jackson.
  • Cummings: There isn't one I love, but Lamar Jackson is still my favorite of the guys owned in less than 65 percent of leagues. He hasn't popped yet, but he's been a reliable low-end start in leagues that count four points per pass touchdown, and I don't believe we've seen his upside yet.

6. If I'm a big underdog this week, who is a high-upside WR I could target on waivers?

  • Eisenberg: Adam Humphries (48 percent), especially if DeSean Jackson (thumb) remains out. Humphries has scored at least 14 PPR points in five of his past six games, with a touchdown in three in a row. Without Jackson in Week 13 against Carolina, Humphries had nine targets for seven catches, 61 yards and a touchdown.
  • Richard: There are two: Dante Pettis and Curtis Samuel. Both should continue to see a nice dose of targets and both have potential to make plays after the catch. Both are incredibly fast and have good matchups too.
  • Cummings: Both Adam Humphries and Dante Pettis fit the bill, even if one seems far more exciting than the other. Humphries has become a red-zone crutch for Jameis Winston, and he's seeing a lot of targets. Pettis has big play ability and avoids Chris Harris. The Broncos secondary isn't special without Harris.

So who should you sit and start? And what shocking quarterback could win you Week 14? Visit SportsLine now to get Fantasy football rankings for every single position, and see which shocking QB finishes in the top 10 this week, all from the model that out-performed experts big time last season.

Fantasy Writer

Though he can be found covering three different sports depending on the time of year, there is one unifying theme in how Chris Towers approaches sports; "Where's the evidence?" It doesn't matter how outlandish... Full Bio

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