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What to do with Jaylen Samuels in Week 5 fantasy football

Jaylen Samuels used gadget plays to become viable in Pittsburgh’s Week 4 win over Cincinnati. Will the same recipe work against Baltimore?

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jaylen Samuels rushes the ball against the Cincinnati Bengals during the first quarter at Heinz Field. Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s a stat that’s both not all that surprising, but also completely random: only one player in the history of the NFL has attempted at least three passes, been targeted at least five times, and has carried the ball on at least 10 occasions in a single game. It happened when Jaylen Samuels helped the Steelers crush the Bengals on Monday Night Football earlier this week. The man who was drafted out of North Carolina State, in part because of his versatility, did it all. Samuels completed a few touch-passes operating out of the Wildcat formation, he scored a touchdown on a late-game goal line carry, and he tied James Conner for the team lead in targets with eight. Actually, he tied Conner in a lot of things.

While Conner out-snapped the sophomore running back 38-to-26, the duo would share the field for a number of plays and each finish with exactly 18 touches and a touchdown. It definitely didn’t hurt matters that the pair was going up against a Bengals defense that had hemorrhaged fantasy points to opposing backfields through three weeks, but it became clear that both of these men could be viable moving forward. It also became obvious that Mike Tomlin would be more willing to get creative about giving his most talented players the football in the absence of Ben Roethlisberger.

Fantasy Football Analysis, Pittsburgh Steelers RB Jaylen Samuels

Pittsburgh ran the Wildcat seven times against Cincinnati. If Samuels’ value was only tied to the success of that single formation, there wouldn’t be much optimism surrounding his fantasy prospects in Week 5. However, Mason Rudolph has shown a major affinity for targeting his running backs in the passing game. The rookie directed 60.7% of his 28 attempts on Monday towards either Samuels, Conner, or Benny Snell; and, for the year, he’s averaging a microscopic 2.2 air yards per throw. Combine that with the fact that the Ravens are surrendering 4.9 yards per rushing attempt in 2019, and Samuels is easily someone who can be considered a FLEX play in PPR formats this weekend and, possibly, a salary-saving value play on DraftKings.

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