Najee Harris Start/Sit Week 2: Will Harris capitalize on the favorable matchup?

The Steelers need a big year from Najee Harris, but will he deliver for fantasy football managers in Week 2 against the Patriots?

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris’ rookie debut against the Bills was underwhelming, rushing 16 times for 45 yards and catching 1 of 3 targets for 4 yards. Will Harris have a better fantasy football outing against the Raiders at home in Week 2?

Will Najee Harris’ collegiate production translate to the NFL?

I believe it will. However, Pittsburgh’s offensive line is an obstacle Harris will have to overcome. The rookie had to consistently deal with Bills defenders behind the line of scrimmage last week. According to Pro Football Reference, 49% of Harris’ rushing yards were accumulated after contact. He also played 100% of the Steelers’ offensive snaps.

Harris excelled at generating yards after contact and making tacklers miss at the University of Alabama. This ability should translate well to the NFL. Harris totaled 3,843 career rushing yards, which ranks first in Crimson Tide history. He accumulated 4,624 all-purpose yards in his Alabama career, which ranks second in school history. Harris also finished his career as the Crimson Tide’s all-time leader for career touchdowns with 57 (46 rushing, 11 receiving).

Harris has the athleticism to transcend mediocre to poor offensive line play. This is important information as we look ahead to the Steelers’ Week 2 matchup against the Raiders.

How should you view Najee Harris in Week 2?

Harris can be viewed as a low-end RB1 against the Raiders. Pittsburgh’s OL has a much more favorable matchup against Las Vegas’ defensive front. The Raiders’ defense did give up yardage to Ty’Son Williams last week, who finished with 12 touches and 94 total yards.

Over the last five regular-season games, the Raiders’ defense has allowed top RB scorers to average 20 touches, 123.4 total yards, 1.2 touchdowns, and 23 PPR fantasy points per game.

The Raiders will be coming off a short week, having defeated the Ravens on Monday Night Football. This could give Pittsburgh a slight edge in the matchup. The Steelers are less than a touchdown favorite against the Raiders. The game has an over/under of 47.5 points.

There is a good chance that the combined points scored in this game will go over 47.5. This bodes well for Harris’ fantasy outlook. The Steelers played six games last season with 47.5+ points scored. On the other hand, the Raiders played 15 games last season with a combined score of more than 47.5 points.

Rachel Gossen of the Raiders’ official website reported Friday [September 17] that starting defensive end Yannick Ngakoue is listed as questionable ahead of Sunday’s matchup per the Week 2 NFL injury report. However, head coach Jon Gruden also confirmed that he’ll play. This is notable because Ngakoue is one of Las Vegas’ top players on defense and will be one less defensive weapon Pittsburgh’s offensive line has to worry about.

The bottom line

Don’t hesitate to insert Harris into your Week 2 lineup. He’s in a position to have the fantasy performance against the Raiders that we envisioned back in Week 1. Harris is firmly on the RB1 radar.

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