Pittsburgh Steelers Depth Chart and Fantasy Preview: Najee Harris, Jaylen Warren, George Pickens, Russell Wilson, and More

With a completely revamped QB room, can this be an offense to target this season? Let's see what our Pittsburgh Steelers fantasy preview says.

In fantasy football, we want good players on good offenses. The Pittsburgh Steelers certainly don’t look like one fantasy managers want to target. Could they end up surprising, though? Our Steelers fantasy preview hopes to reveal all.

Pittsburgh Steelers Fantasy Depth Chart

QB
Russell Wilson, Justin Fields, Kyle Allen

RB
Najee Harris, Jaylen Warren, Cordarrelle Patterson, Daijun Edwards

WR1
George Pickens, Denzel Mims, Dez Fitzpatrick

WR2
Roman Wilson, Quez Watkins

WR3
Van Jefferson, Calvin Austin III

TE
Pat Freiermuth, Darnell Washington, Connor Heyward

Russell Wilson’s Fantasy Outlook

Somehow, despite playing so poorly that the Denver Broncos ate $32 million in dead cap to cut him, Russell Wilson finished as a QB1 last season. He averaged 17.7 fantasy points per game and was the overall QB12.

Now, that doesn’t mean Wilson was actually an impactful fantasy quarterback. He had three total games with more than 19 fantasy points (Weeks 2, 4, and 16). They probably didn’t help many fantasy managers.

Wilson threw for a career-low 3,070 passing yards last season. While his rushing rebounded a little bit to 22.2 yards per game, it’s still nowhere near where it was during his peak when he was a high-end fantasy quarterback. A change in scenery can’t hurt Wilson, but it’s probably not going to help him much, either.

The Steelers traded away their best wide receiver, Diontae Johnson, and brought in former Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith to be their offensive coordinator. Everything about this team points to Pittsburgh running the ball.

Wilson’s volume was low enough in Denver, and it might be further diminished in Pittsburgh.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the Steelers also traded for Justin Fields. While Wilson is going to start Week 1, it would truly be a shocker if he made it through the entire season as the starter.

Fields is almost certainly going to make starts. It wouldn’t surprise me if Wilson gets benched for Fields, is then benched for Wilson, and then benched for Fields again. It sure will be frustrating for fantasy.

Either way, Wilson’s ability at age 35, combined with his unfavorable offensive situation and zero job security, make him an unappealing fantasy QB.

Najee Harris’ Fantasy Outlook

After a seemingly incredible rookie year that saw him average 17.7 fantasy points per game and finish as the overall RB6, Najee Harris has been on a steady decline ever since.

Harris has largely been the same player his entire career. He’s averaged 3.9, 3.8, and 4.1 yards per carry in each of his three seasons. His touchdown counts have been 10, 10, and eight, respectively, yet his fantasy ppg went from 17.7 to 13.2 to 11.5.

The unique situation Harris found himself in as a rookie framed fantasy managers’ perceptions of him. Harris, playing with the ghost of a once-great Ben Roethlisberger, saw a whopping 14.5% target share as a rookie. Last year, his target share was 7.9%.

The ironic part of Harris fading into random RB3 oblivion is he actually had his best year as a runner in 2023. He still only averaged 3.13 yards created per touch (39th in the NFL), but 5.5% of his rushes went for 15+ yards. That was the 10th-highest rate in the league. He also had a 20.1% evaded-tackles-per-touch rate (22nd).

Harris no longer possesses the upside he displayed as a rookie, but he’s much more appealing than he’s been the past two seasons. Smith’s Falcons offense ran the ball 49% of the time in a neutral game script last season. As the Titans’ OC, they were also around 50%.

The Steelers also beefed up their offensive line in the draft and are going to run the ball a lot.

MORE: AFC Offseason Grades: Ranking All 16 Teams

With Wilson and Fields providing sizable upgrades on the disastrous trio of QBs the Steelers rolled out last season, Pittsburgh’s offense should be better overall. Harris certainly isn’t exciting, but he can be a mid-RB2 in 2024.

Jaylen Warren’s Fantasy Outlook

Similarly, Jaylen Warren will also benefit from the improved offensive situation and philosophy. Yet, it remains to be seen how Smith will deploy his two running backs.

On the one hand, he actively avoided giving the ball to his best player in Atlanta, which, in this case, would be Warren. On the other hand, Smith showed an aversion to utilizing his first-round picks, which would be Harris. Ultimately, it’s anyone’s guess.

As a result, we should just focus on talent. Warren averaged 11.6 fantasy points per game, finishing as the overall RB29. Considering where he was drafted, Warren reaching double-digit fantasy points in 10 of 17 weeks is pretty impressive.

Warren averaged 5.5 yards per touch (seventh in the NFL), had a 31.9% evaded-tackles-per-touch rate (first), and took 8.1% of his carries for 15+ yards (third). His 4.65 yards created per touch was third in the league as well.

Warren touched the ball a mere 210 times all season. That is certainly low, but it’s fair to wonder if we even want him to touch the ball more.

Warren averaged 5.3 ypc on just 149 attempts. Through the air, he saw a 15.3% target share (sixth in the league) and averaged 1.58 yards per route run, ninth among running backs.

Harris will inherently cap Warren’s upside, but Warren once again looks like an appealing later-round option.

George Pickens’ Fantasy Outlook

Last season, George Pickens had perhaps the quietest 1,100-yard season of all time. I exaggerate, but it’s still quite impressive, especially given the quarterbacks he was playing with. He also only saw a 21.9% target share and was targeted on a mere 20.4% of his routes run.

The problem with Pickens has been consistency. He’ll give fantasy managers a couple of massive blow-up games, but then completely disappear for the rest of them.

Last year, Pickens posted games of 22.7, 26.6, 35.5, and 20.1 fantasy points. Yet, he averaged just 12.3 fantasy ppg and scored in the single digits a whopping 10 times.

Pickens’ erratic nature combined with the expected run-heavy offense are certainly marks against him, but there’s reason for optimism. Johnson is gone, solidifying Pickens as the clear WR1.

Pickens only has four career games without Johnson on the field. He averaged 16.6 fantasy points per game in those contests. In 30 games with Johnson, he was only at 10.3 on average. Limiting our window to last year, Pickens averaged 10.9 points per game with Johnson on the field.

If Pickens remains cheap in fantasy drafts, he just might be worth taking as your WR3/4, even in a seemingly unfavorable offensive environment for wide receivers.

Pat Freiermuth’s Fantasy Outlook

It’s really difficult to find a reason to be excited about Pat Freiermuth. As a rookie, he averaged an impressive 9.5 fantasy points per game and looked poised to be one of the next great tight ends.

As a sophomore, Freiermuth failed to progress, averaging 9.3 fantasy ppg.

Then, last year happened. Freiermuth’s target share fell to 13.9%. He battled injuries throughout the year, and when it was all said and done, he averaged 6.4 fantasy points per game. He wasn’t even a fantasy TE2.

The guy we saw as a rookie might still exist. But this isn’t the offensive setup likely to facilitate a breakout.

Johnson’s leaving does open up more opportunities for Freiermuth. However, I doubt he suddenly emerges into a reliable weekly fantasy option.

Steelers Fantasy Sleepers

The Steelers have one true sleeper in the traditional sense of the term. Then, they have another who is perhaps the most unique fantasy asset of all time. Let’s start with the basic one.

Rookie WR Roman Wilson has a chance to step into the WR2 immediately. His primary competition is journeyman Van Jefferson and failed New York Jets WR Denzel Mims.

Wilson may only have third-round draft capital, but the Steelers lack a clear WR2, and they have a pretty impressive history of drafting wide receivers, especially on Day 2.

As for the unconventional sleeper, that’s Fields. What we have here is a complete anomaly — something I can’t remember ever existing before.

Fields is a backup quarterback right now. In fantasy, outside of Superflex leagues, we don’t draft backup QBs. The issue is Fields is a guaranteed fantasy QB1 with elite QB1 upside if and when he inevitably becomes the starter.

KEEP READING: Ranking the NFL’s Best Backup Quarterbacks

The moment Wilson gets benched, Fields will instantly be scooped up off the waiver wire in every league. But how can fantasy managers justify rostering a completely useless (for fantasy) player from the outset?

It’s a fascinating dilemma, especially considering the high likelihood Fields does make starts this season. While I can’t endorse burning a roster spot on an NFL backup QB to start the season, fantasy managers should try and pick up Fields before Wilson plays his way out of a job.

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