Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris is dealing with an elbow injury entering Wild Card Weekend. He suffered the injury in the first quarter of last week’s win against the Baltimore Ravens, although he finished the game. Is Harris playing against the Kansas City Chiefs this weekend, and what should fantasy football managers expect from him?
01/16/22: Najee Harris is officially active for the Steelers game against the Chiefs. For the rest of the Steelers inactives, make sure to check out our Wild Card Round Inactives.
Najee Harris’ 2021 production
Harris quietly enjoyed an outstanding rookie campaign, although volume played a large part in his success. He posted 1,200 yards and 7 touchdowns on 307 carries over 17 games. He also recorded 74 receptions for 467 yards and 3 touchdowns on 94 targets.
Harris hasn’t been an overly dominant runner, as he produced 100+ yards in only three games. With that said, he did have 90+ rushing yards in six contests.
Harris saw his best game of the season in Week 17. He ran for 188 yards and 1 TD on 28 carries against the Cleveland Browns. He also added 3 receptions for 18 yards through the air.
One of Harris’ best attributes is his ability to contribute in the passing game, as it adds versatility to Pittsburgh’s offense. That was on full display in Week 3 against the Cincinnati Bengals. Harris hauled in 14 receptions for 102 yards on 19 targets in that game.
How would his absence affect the Steelers’ offense?
If Najee Harris were to miss the game this weekend, Benny Snell would likely take over as a workhorse running back. Harris has played the majority of the snaps this season, with all of Pittsburgh’s backup RBs playing limited roles. Snell did see 12 carries last week, but he generated only 22 rushing yards.
Kalen Ballage could potentially see a slightly larger role. However, Snell would likely receive the majority of the snaps in this scenario.
Ultimately, the Steelers would rely more heavily on their passing attack than their rushing game. Diontae Johnson would see low aDOT (average depth of target) targets as an extension of the run game. JuJu Smith-Schuster is also returning, and he’d be in a similar situation to Johnson as a second extension of the rushing attack.
Nevertheless, Harris is likely to be a full go this weekend.
Will Najee Harris play vs. the Chiefs this week?
Harris injured his elbow in the first quarter of Pittsburgh’s game against the Ravens last week. He finished the contest, although it was clear the injury was bothering him throughout.
Harris failed to participate in the Steelers’ practice on Wednesday or Thursday, recording a pair of “DNPs.” That was likely for rest, though, as he returned to a full practice on Friday. Thus, the Steelers removed Harris from their injury report. He’ll be a full go on Sunday, barring a setback during warmups or the game.
Are fantasy points available vs. Kansas City?
The Chiefs are a tough matchup for any running back. They’re only allowing 17.3 fantasy points per game to opposing RBs, which ranks 20th in the NFL.
Still, Harris is a versatile weapon that can contribute against any defense because of his ability to produce in the passing game.
Harris comes with ample risk because of the matchup, but he’s a workhorse running back in the playoffs. He’s a solid option, specifically in PPR formats.