Najee Harris’s 2021 Dynasty Profile

By: JayWall

Najee Harris’s 

2021 Dynasty Profile

With Najee Harris being the first running back to come off the board in the 2021 NFL Draft, there are high expectations for him in the fantasy community to produce immediately. More goes into Najee’s fantasy production than just the player himself. We’re going to take a look at the Steelers’ offense as a whole and the value Najee will have on your dynasty rosters now and in the future.

A Look at the 2020 Steelers

First, let’s take a look at the running back room for the Steelers last season. They had a total of 373 carries for 1,351 yards which is just 3.6 yards per carry. These stats are pretty rough to look at, and 51 of those carries and 121 yards came from quarterbacks or wide receivers. This raises the running backs yards per carry to 3.8 which is still very low. A lot of their rushing struggles came from injury, but mainly a bad offensive line.

James Connor led all rushers with 721 yards on 169 carries in just 13 games, followed by Benny Snell Jr. who had 368 yards on 111 carries. Anthony McFarland and Jaylen Samuels both had minimal roles. According to Team Rankings, the Steelers finished 31st in the league in rushing volume in 2020 with 34.52%.

On the opposite side, the Steelers ranked 1st in pass attempts with 42.6 per game last year. Ben Roethlisberger completed 399 of 608 attempts for 3,803 yards, 33 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. The running backs combined saw 60 receptions for 376 yards and 0 touchdowns. Conner led the pack with 35 catches for 215 yards.

Najee Harris’s Dynasty Profile

Najee Harris played all four years at Alabama and really stood out his junior and senior years. His stats were 209 carries for 1,224 yards and 13 touchdowns while adding 27 receptions for 304 yards and 7 touchdowns in 2018. His senior year he took a step up in rushing for 1,466 yards and 26 touchdowns on 251 carries with an additional 425 yards and 4 touchdowns on 43 catches.

With the 24th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Najee Harris, RB, Alabama.

The Steelers are a great landing spot for Harris who will take over the role James Conner left when he signed with the Cardinals. Najee will be the bellcow back on this team, and will command more carries and targets than Conner did just a season ago. A big reason they drafted Harris in the first round of the NFL Draft was to create a stronger ground game, as they don’t want to be as unbalanced as they were last year. I think Pittsburgh will finish in the middle of the league in rushing volume with Harris back there.

Unfortunately, Harris will be running behind a weak offensive line. PFF has them ranked as the 31st offensive line in the league heading into the 2021 season which doesn’t bode well for him. So just how efficient will he be next season and in the years to come?

The fact of the matter is that you don’t need to be an efficient running back to produce in fantasy football, you just need a high workload. Najee will be in line for 300 touches in 2021, and that is a high indication that he’ll finish as a RB1 this year. Along with that, Harris is a sneaky good pass catcher which will rack up points in PPR formats as Big Ben will look to dump the ball off to him, especially if he doesn’t have much time in the pocket.

I would expect Najee to be a low-end RB1 this year with the upside of a top 5 running back. I also expect his value to be a first or early second round startup pick next season. He’ll be a top back for the next five years as he’s on his rookie contract. Harris is 23 years old coming into the NFL, but I wouldn’t let his age be much of a factor in how productive he’ll be for your fantasy team.

Trade Value

When looking at equal value in picks for Najee, I wouldn’t take anything less than two future 1st round picks. I don’t see his value dropping even if he doesn’t quite live up to expectations. I expect his value to shoot up next offseason.

Players with similar value to Harris would be guys like D’Andre Swift and Antonio Gibson at running back. At wide receiver, CeeDee Lamb, Calvin Ridley, Stefon Diggs and DeAndre Hopkins would be great targets here. I’m not targeting any quarterback for Harris in 1QB leagues. In Superflex settings, I’d go after Joe Burrow, Russell Wilson, Trevor Lawrence and Trey Lance. I know Lance here may come as a surprise, but I imagine he’ll be a top 5 quarterback in the next couple years, especially with his rushing upside. So I’d take advantage of his low value while you can. You could probably even pair a pick with Lance.

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