When it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers offense in 2020, players looking to “bounce back” from performances in 2019 are littered across the depth chart. Whether it be Ben Roethlisberger coming back from injury, or players such as JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner attempting to get back to his Pro Bowl caliber performance in 2018, the offense as a whole is needing to have a recovery after last season.
While the oddsmakers are not overly optimistic that Ben Roethlisberger will return to leading the league in passing as he did the last time he played a complete season, a bounce back season from JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner are ones they feel are much more likely. When it comes to the odds of leading the NFL in rushing yards for 2020, Conner is currently at 20/1 which is tied with Marlon Mack for the 17th best odds of all running backs according to BetOnline.
On the top of the list is the NFL’s 2019 rushing leader Derrick Henry who is currently at 6/1 odds. The next most likely player to win the rushing title according to the oddsmakers is the 2019 leader in all-purpose yards Christian McCaffrey at 7/1. Nick Chubb rounds off the top three at 8/1 odds as the final player with better than 10/1 odds.
Dalvin Cook and 2018 rushing leader Ezekiel Elliott are tied at 10/1 to round out the top five spots. In all, 37 players were included on the list which went all the way to 40/1 odds. For the Steelers, Conner was the only player on the list.
When looking at strictly the AFC North, Conner finished last out of all the starting running backs. The Cleveland Browns’ Nick Chubb has already been mentioned at 8/1 odds and the Cincinnati Bengals’ Joe Mixon comes in at 16/1 odds. The Baltimore Ravens leading rusher from 2019 was Mark Ingram who is currently at 18/1 odds to win the rushing title. Another player of note from the AFC North was the only non-running back on the list. Lamar Jackson is currently 25/1 odds to win the rushing title. Ironically, he’s tied with former Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell.
When it comes to Conner’s production for 2020, it ultimately is going to come down to his health. Appearing and only 10 games in 2019, Conner has yet to play a full season in his three-year career. While missing a game throughout the season has become the norm for the majority of NFL running backs, the number of games Conner has missed is quite troubling and definitely contributes to his lack of production. Should Conner stay healthy through the 2020 campaign, it will be interesting to see if he can put up the yards to finish at the top of the NFL.