The Pittsburgh Steelers rushed for 172 yards last week against one of the league’s top defenses, the Cleveland Browns. After doing that to the top-ranked defense in the NFL, the Steelers will be going up against the 31st-ranked defense in the Cincinnati Bengals.
Which Steelers running back — Jaylen Warren or Najee Harris — is worth a start in your fantasy football lineup? Let’s break down their fantasy outlook.
Should You Start Jaylen Warren or Najee Harris This Week?
In the Pro Football Network Start/Sit Optimizer, our Consensus Rankings say that Warren is the player to start. His projected 10.6 points include 36 rushing yards, four catches, and 28 receiving yards. That projected stat line outperforms the consensus projections for Harris (8.7 points).
I’m going with the optimizer on this, as Warren has simply been better recently than Harris. Warren isn’t on the field nearly as often, but he’s still outperforming Harris.
Fantasy Outlook for Warren This Week
The Steelers made big news this week when the team fired offensive coordinator Matt Canada. Much of the talk this year has been about the inept play of the offense, as the team has been out-gained in every game this year, despite being 6-4.
Harris was the higher pick and all of that, but there’s no denying that Warren has been the better player this year. For anyone who has watched the Steelers this year, Warren has shown to provide the offense with more pop.
Warren has been playing his best football as of late, especially in the last three weeks. He had a career-high 88 rushing yards against the Tennessee Titans, and each week since then, he has surpassed that career high.
Last week was Warren’s best game to date, with 129 rushing yards and a touchdown against the Browns and their elite defense. But even though he’s been great recently, Warren had only nine carries against Cleveland. And for the game, he had just 12 touches.
In the last three games, Warren has averaged 106 yards per game and has scored two touchdowns. With those numbers, you would think he would be the focal back of an offense where he’s the only guy playing well.
Yet, Warren has been on the field for 50% or more of the Steelers’ offensive snaps just once this season. That came two weeks ago when he had a career-high 15 carries for 101 yards — his first 100-yard game.
Sunday should be a good indicator of what new offensive coordinator Eddie Faulkner is going to change.
Fantasy Outlook for Harris This Week
Two weeks ago, Harris had 85 rushing yards and a touchdown. However, as has been the case all year, he couldn’t follow that up with another big game and rushed for only 35 yards against the Browns.
In 10 games this year, Harris has rushed for at least 50 yards only five times. Pittsburgh’s offensive line is not an elite group, but Warren can make plays out of the backfield. As much as it seems like he should see the ball more, there is still a chance Faulkner continues to use Harris as the RB1.
Right now, it just feels like the team has to give Warren the ball more moving forward. He has big-play ability, which is something that Harris just hasn’t shown yet.
Looking to make a trade in your fantasy league? Having trouble deciding who to start and who to sit? Setting DFS lineups? Check out PFN’s Free Fantasy Football Trade Analyzer, Start/Sit Optimizer, and DFS Lineup Optimizer to help you make the right decision!