Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 Fantasy Preview
2020 Record: 12-4
2021 Over/Under: o/u 8.5 (over -105; under -125)
2021 Divison Odds: +380
2021 Super Bowl Odds: +4000
As you prepare for the fantasy season, whether it be your home league, a big money squad or with us at Champions Round, we want you to be as prepared as possible heading into the season. And most of all we want to see you win!
The Steelers open training camp opens on Wednesday and won’t have much time to ease into the season. The team faces the Dallas Cowboys in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio on August 5th.
Here’s what we know about the Steelers: The defense is going to be a top 5 unit. In fact, they recently brought in former pro bowl defensive lineman Melvin Ingram to bolster that side of the ball. In other words, they’re going to win games even if their offense struggles a bit. And it might. The Steelers have a truly horrid offensive line that has dealt with a rash of injuries, retirements and poor play. Things didn’t exactly get better this offseason. On the bright side, Pittsburgh has a top flight new RB in rookie Najee Harris, an elite group of receivers and a solid tight end group.
The question here is how much does Big Ben have left in the tank? Last year he turned into a dink and dunk QB, similar to how Drew Brees finished his career in New Orleans. Was that due to the poor O-line play or is Ben’s arm just done? We’ll see. That will probably determine how dynamic the Steelers offense can be in 2021.
Champions Round “JUICE” Projections
2021 Expected Record: 10-7
2021 Expected Points Per Game: 24.9
2021 Expected Points Allowed Per Game: 21.7
Ben Roethlisberger - Rank: QB24
JUICE Projections: 419-645 Passing, 65% Completion, 4065 Passing Yds., 29 TD, 12 INT; 20 Rushing Yds, 0 Rush TD
Our projections still think highly of Big Ben. With the group of receivers he has and hopefully an upgraded rushing attack, Roethlisberger could have a good season. However, in terms of fantasy, he’s probably undraftable. In deepens leagues and SuperFlex leagues he may be worth a stash, but you’re not going to want to depend on him week in and week out.
Najee Harris - Rank: RB17
JUICE Projections: 233 carries, 959 Rushing Yds, 11 Rush TD; 32 receptions, 230 Receiving Yds, 3 Rec. TD
Harris figures to have at least 250 touches in 2021 and could easily eclipse the 300 threshold. Yes, he’s playing behind an awful offensive line. But he’s a young, dynamic, bell cow type of running back who should find success early in his career. The Steelers are depending on it. Firmly a third round re-draft league selection. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Harris win offensive rookie of the year.
Benny Snell Jr. - Rank: RB58
JUICE Projections: 79 carries, 316 Rushing Yds, 4 Rush TD; 15 receptions, 101 Receiving Yds
Snell figures to be the complimentary back to Harris and will be in a smaller role than he was in last season. Also, he has Anthony McFarland breathing down his neck for carries. If Harris were to go down, Snell would likely be a high end RB3.
Diontae Johnson - Rank: WR26
JUICE Projections: 87 receptions, 851 Receiving Yds, 6 Rec. TD
Johnson is one of the brightest young receivers in the NFL and the fantasy community loves his potential. I do, too. But he has some of the worst hands for a receiver of his skill level, which has held him back from truly breaking through. If he is able to solve those drops, he could be a low end WR1.
JuJu Smith-Schuster - Rank: WR30
JUICE Projections: 82 receptions, 757 Receiving Yds, 7 Rec. TD
Smith-Schuster took a step back last season, although he still produced in fantasy. The former USC Trojan got into the end zone in 2020 and still caught a bunch of passes en route to finishing as WR16. However, his depth of target is horrid and unlikely to get better in 2021.
Chase Claypool - Rank: WR29
JUICE Projections: 63 receptions, 814 Receiving Yds, 6 Rec. TD
Claypool is clearly the most dynamic of this group and has the greatest chance of the three to have double digit touchdowns. Second-year receivers are historically very productive and Claypool has a great chance to breakout in a big way in 2021.
James Washington - Rank: WR103
JUICE Projections: 28 receptions, 302 Receiving Yds, 2 Rec. TD
Washington is a good, solid receiver for the Steelers, but is pretty irrelevant for fantasy purposes. If one of the top three receivers were to go down, specifically JuJu, Washington would be a playable flex spot starter.
Eric Ebron - Rank: TE28
JUICE Projections: 39 receptions, 357 Receiving Yds, 3 Rec. TD
Ebron was disappointing in his first season in Pittsburgh, but should be more familiar with Big Ben this season. That being said, he will be competing for snaps with rookie Pat Freiermuth. Ebron is a good late round flyer in deep leagues due to his red zone potential, but that’s about it.
Pat Freiermuth - Rank: TE35
JUICE Projections: 33 receptions, 313 Receiving Yds, 2 Rec. TD
Freiermuth was an excellent tight end at Penn State and should have a productive NFL career. However, he’s competing for targets with three wide receivers and a solid tight end in Ebron. Most tight ends don’t break out as a rookie, so I would expect Freiermuth to have a pretty quiet rookie campaign. He’s definitely a good buy in dynasty leagues, though.
TL;DR 2021 Steelers
- All about the offensive line
- Is Big Ben’s arm gone?
- Najee Harris should be a RB1 and touch the ball 300 times
- Chase Claypool is who I would want to bet on at receiver given his price tag.
Thanks for reading and good luck in your drafts! Next Up: Arizona Cardinals