Steelers top position projections for the 2021 fantasy football season
By Luke Sawhook
The Steelers were an interesting entity throughout the 2020 fantasy football season. Will 2021 bring more stability? Let’s take a look.
In 2020 the Pittsburgh Steelers were a high-powered fantasy offense through the air. Big Ben threw the ball way more than his career average which led to a three-headed monster at WR for fantasy football purposes. The running game was rough, to say the least, and the play of Eric Ebron left more to be desired. With the additions of Najee Harris, and Pat Freiermuth how will the 2021 fantasy season look for the Steelers?
Let’s start with number 7. Ben had a solid fantasy season in 2020 finishing as the QB 14 in 4 point passing TD leagues. I think we see Ben maintain this level of production in the 2021 NFL season. That reason mostly being the addition of Najee Harris greatly increasing Ben’s efficiency with opposing defenses respecting the rushing attack of Najee. I think we certainly see a decrease in pass attempts per game from Big Ben this coming season.
However, he had a very low average depth of target last season at 6.3, one of the lowest among starting QBs in the NFL. I feel strongly this was due in part to the team “running through the air” by having a lot of dump-offs underneath due to a weak short-yardage attack. I project Big Ben to finish no higher than QB 10, and no lower than QB 16 in 2021.
Steelers addition of Najee Harris
The addition of Najee Harris is nothing to sneeze at. A high pedigree running back out of Alabama that has an excellent blend of running and receiving skills. Najee will see a very high volume of touches in the Steelers offense that I strongly believe makes him a lock for a top 10 fantasy running back based on sheer volume alone.
Let me address the elephant in the room here. Obviously, the offensive line of the Steelers is a massive question mark. However, the touches that Najee receives don’t even need to be efficient. For fantasy purposes, Najee will see such a large amount of touches that even if he is an inefficient back, all the goal line carries and receptions will propel Najee to instant fantasy success.
Let’s hop over to the newly renovated tight end room. The Steelers saw Eric Ebron have a major case of the drops over the back half of the season and invested in their tight end of the future in Pat Freiermuth in the 2nd round of the draft. Ebron finished 2020 as the TE 14 in fantasy football which was honestly a bit of a disappointment.
Eric Ebron was signed by the Steelers to hopefully become a featured weapon, and quite frankly he was just way too inconsistent. I expect Freiermuth to eat into Ebron’s TD total since he’s an extremely efficient red-zone weapon coming out of college. Freiermuth will likely finish no higher than TE 24 in 2021, however, his future looks very bright. I predict a TE 17 finish for Ebron, taking a step back in volume from the 2020 season but still being a viable streaming option.
Which WR will take the step forward?
The three-headed monster of the Pittsburgh Steelers WR room is quite the puzzle to crack. With all 3 of the young wideouts finishing outside of the top 15 and none of them outside of the top 24, the question remains, who will take the step forward?
My prediction is Diontae Johnson. Diontae is by far the best route runner of the group and is peppered with targets on a weekly basis. If Diontae cuts out the drops and can stay on the field he is certainly in the conversation to be a WR 1. With that being said, I strongly believe that all 3 of these guys have top 10 potential and that they all will finish inside the top 24 once again in hopefully a much more efficient Steelers passing offense.
Thank you for checking out my 2021 Steelers fantasy football projections, in a year that could lead to a lot of questions answered for the Steelers offense, I’ll be here to bring you weekly updates throughout the upcoming fantasy season. Stay tuned!