Samuels will have to compete for touches once again this season after the Steelers selected Najee Harris with the 24th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Mark Kaboly of The Athletic reports. After James Conner signed with the Cardinals during the offseason, the Steelers signed Kalen Ballage at the end of March before selecting Harris with their first pick in the draft. Samuels was mainly limited to special-teams work in 2021, and he could have to compete for a roster spot during training camp and the preseason now that the team's depth chart at running back is even more crowded. Samuels rushed nine times for 28 yards while hauling in nine passes for 46 yards in 2020.
Samuels was on the field for only 10 snaps on special teams during Sunday's 24-22 loss to the Browns. Even as the Steelers relied heavily on their depth players in Sunday's Week 17 matchup, Samuels wasn't on the field for any offensive snaps against the Browns. The 24-year-old was far less involved in the Steelers' offensive attack this year than he had been in past seasons. He rushed nine times for 28 yards while hauling in nine of his 14 targets for 46 yards. He could move up the depth chart in 2021 if James Conner doesn't return to the team during the offseason, but he should continue to see a minimal role in the playoffs and will likely serve in a depth role once again next year.
Samuels recorded one carry for four yards while hauling in his lone target for 12 yards in Monday's 27-17 loss to the Bengals. Samuels played a considerable role for the Steelers over the past two weeks and figured to be in line for increased work against Cincinnati with James Conner (quadriceps) sidelined. However, he was only on the field for seven offensive snaps after playing 27 offensive snaps in each of the last two weeks. The 24-year-old has now brought in seven of his nine targets over the past three weeks, but he has only recorded 74 yards from scrimmage on 18 touches this season.
Samuels is expected to slot in as the No. 2 running back in Monday's game against the Bengals because James Conner (quad) has been ruled out. When Conner sat out in Week 13 against Washington, Samuels logged a 38 percent snap share and four touches as the backup to Benny Snell. Anthony McFarland rotated in as the clear No. 3 back. The Steelers figure to roll with a similar rotation in Week 15. As a result, Snell may be the only dependable fantasy option, although Samuels could see more work if they start running up the score. Through 11 games this year, Samuels has been inefficient with just 58 yards from scrimmage on 16 touches.
Samuels logged four carries for 15 yards while hauling in three of his four targets for 18 yards in Sunday's 26-15 loss to Buffalo. Even with James Conner back from the reserve/COVID-19 list for Sunday's primetime matchup, Samuels led the Steelers backfield with 27 snaps in the loss. Samuels garnered a season-high seven touches, but he was unable to record much production with the ball in his hands. It's not yet known whether Samuels' increased snap count will continue while Conner remains healthy.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
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