Najee Harris Fantasy Outlook Includes Top-10 Upside as a Rookie in 2021

Jason Schandl
Najee Harris' fantasy football outlook includes serious top-10 upside as the top rookie running back in 2021.
Najee Harris' fantasy football outlook includes serious top-10 upside as the top rookie running back in 2021. / Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

One of the least surprising picks in the 2021 NFL Draft came when the RB-needy Pittsburgh Steelers selected Najee Harris in the first round — a pick they had long been rumored to be set on.

Pittsburgh making that kind of investment in the former Alabama workhorse gives Harris an incredible fantasy football outlook in 2021.

Najee Harris Fantasy Football Value

To start with, there's no doubting Harris' talent. There's a reason he was selected No. 24 overall despite the devaluing of the RB position in recent years.

Harris averaged 6.0 yards per carry on 638 rushes over his four-year NFL career, still managing 5.8 yards per carry when he was the focal point of the Alabama offense with 251 carries in 2020.

He also showed an uncommonly versatile skillset for a college back, adding 425 yards on 43 receptions as a senior.

But talent without opportunity doesn't mean much in fantasy football. Opportunity should be given in spades as a Steeler. The Pittsburgh backfield couldn't stay healthy in 2020, but whoever was starting was getting a serious workload.

James Conner saw 18-plus opportunities (rushes plus targets) seven times and Benny Snell hit that mark three times. When he was at his healthiest in 2018, the Steelers also gave Conner an average of 22.0 opportunities per game.

And of course, Mike Tomlin's love of a workhorse goes back as far as Le'Veon Bell (26.2 opportunities per game from 2013 to 2017) and even Rashard Mendenhall (17.9 opportunities per game from 2009 to 2011) and Willie Parker (22.0 per game in 2007 and 2008).

There's little doubt that Harris is next in line for the workhorse role, and that makes him a safe bet to see more than enough volume to show off his talent.

Harris is going off the board as the RB11 according to FantasyPros' average draft position (ADP) data, and that's a fair price considering his top-10 upside. He comes in at RB18 in The Duel's 2021 rankings.

After all, Tomlin's Steelers have had a running back finish as a top-10 PPR fantasy producer on a per-game basis six times in the last eight seasons.

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Jason Schandl is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Jason Schandl also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jaymun. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.