Rookie running back Najee Harris was drafted in the first round by the Pittsburgh Steelers in this year’s NFL draft. Coming off of a monster season with Alabama, and winning a national championship, Najee Harris finds himself on a team looking for a rejuvenated rushing attack looking to give him a big workload.
Najee is a very talented power running back with plenty of juice, mixed with very good receiving skills. Harris will likely see a full three-down workload in the 2021 season, even Steelers GM Kevin Colbert came forward Wednesday morning and said that he’d be disappointed if Harris didn’t have a three-down back role on the team.
With the sheer amount of volume that I project for Najee Harris this season, I could easily see Najee averaging up to 20 touches a game, with plenty of touchdown opportunities. We’ve seen many rookie running backs have immense success in their rookie seasons, and I strongly believe that Najee Harris could be next up. Not just due to his talent as a runner, but his talent as a pass-catcher is what really sets him apart in my projections.
In PPR scoring formats Najee Harris projects to be a bit of a cheat code mixed with his high rushing totals. I highly doubt any running back besides maybe Alvin Kamara will see more targets than Najee combined with his workload.
The Steelers had by far the worst run-blocking offensive line unit in the NFL last season. A horrifically poor line that barely exploded off the ball and really struggled to form holes in short-yardage situations. The question is, can this brand new Steelers offensive line improve from last season?
I believe they absolutely will. The average age of the Steelers offensive line last year was reminiscent of a retirement home, with several members of the line in the twilight of their career. Now with only one starter returning from last season in Chucks Okorafor, who is switching positions this offensive line just got a lot more youthful, The point I’m getting at here is I really just don’t think this line can be worse at pass blocking than they were last season. The mixture of a fully new unit and youth has to mean good things for this line and their run blocking capabilities.
However, even if the line play is below average, I really don’t think it will affect Najee’s fantasy football success. Take a look at James Robinson last season in Jacksonville. Sure he was given a monstrous workload on a bad team with limited options; but the point I’m getting at is that Robinson, although not very efficient still finished as a top 5 running back last year in an offense that had far fewer red zone opportunities than the 2021 Steelers offense is going to have. In other words, Najee will be just fine given his workload.
The moment you’ve all been waiting for! With all that being said, do I think that Najee Harris can crack the top 10 running backs his rookie season? Yes, yes I do. Why? Volume, volume, volume. In fantasy football volume is king, always.
Najee Harris is being essentially guaranteed to be on the field almost always and people are feeling ‘meh’ about him at times. With his current ADP being in the middle of the second round in PPR redraft leagues Najee Harris is a smash value for me currently. I have him ranked as my RB 10 currently, and he will likely climb before the season starts.
Najee Harris is one of the few running backs in fantasy football that you can look at on paper and feel confident that he will be in a true bell cow, workhorse type situation, and that in itself is a fantasy goldmine, because it provides your players with a true top 3 RB ceiling at the position.
Draft Najee Harris this season, and ride those monster quads all the way to the championship!
(All photos courtesy of steelers.com)