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Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 Fantasy Football Preview

There is a lot to like about this Steelers offense for 2021. Here's a breakdown of the roster for fantasy this season.

It has been a long time since the Super Bowl, and remembering exactly how things left off last year can be a challenge. So, I’ll be writing up a fantasy preview for each NFL team to give us a quick refresher on what happened last year, and what changes took place in the offseason. All fantasy stats will be in ESPN scoring format unless otherwise noted. 

If I missed any change or left out any big notes, throw them down in the comments for me!

What Did They Do Last Year

Despite a solid season on paper, the Steelers seemed to be waiting for the other shoe to drop all season. Ultimately, that shoe did drop as the Black and Yellow dropped four of their last five games and lost to the ascendant Cleveland Browns in the Wild Card round.

The Steelers finished 15th in passing yards despite Ben Roethlisberger throwing the 3rd most pass attempts. Roethlisberger was 3rd only to Matt Ryan and Tom Brady, both of whom played 16 games vs 15 for Ben. The Steelers rushing attack was dismal, finishing last in the league in yards and 28th in rushing touchdowns. 

Mike Tomlin signed an extension in April, and while offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner will be replaced by former quarterbacks coach Matt Canada, the coaching staff from 2020 remains largely intact.  

14Ben Roethlisberger153996083,804331025100263.217.5
51Mason Rudolph42543324217-6018.44.6
70Joshua Dobbs14520022002.12.1

Roethlisberger will, again, be the dominant force for this offense. With Ben calling the shots… again… in 2021, I expect we’ll see another top-5 finish in attempts. Unfortunately the schedule is projected to be much tougher in 2021 where the Steelers drew the second hardest schedule according to Warren Sharp’s strength of schedule projection, this is opposed to their seventh easiest schedule in 2020. 

Ben finished 15th in points per game for QBs who played more than 6 games in 2020. We currently have him ranked as our QB27 this year in fantasy football.

Wide Receivers
1626JuJu Smith-Schuster16128978319135.18.4232.114.51
1924Diontae Johnson15144889247135.99.1223.914.93
2214Chase Claypool16109628739152.99.6214.913.43
7668James Washington165630392569.24.399.26.2
137156Ray-Ray McCloud11222077012.

An exceptionally talented receiver corps featuring Chase Claypool (ranked as our WR24), Dionte Johnson (WR26), JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR36), and James Washington is set to run it back again, intact for 2021. We could see three fantasy viable receivers come out of this group. 

Running Backs
2725James Conner13169720643352150129.510164.512.65
6259Benny Snell151113684141061064.94.374.94.99
101101Anthony McFarland Jr.1133113010654016.71.522.72.06
117126Jaylen Samuels892801494607.40.916.42.05

The Steelers spent pick No. 24 on Alabama running back Najee Harris, all but ensuring the consensus No. 1 RB in this 2021 class will end up getting the most touches of any rookie this year. Pittsburgh and Mike Tomlin have shown a tendency to lean on a workhorse back for years, and they paid up to get a do-it-all playmaker who will start day one for this otherwise desolate running back room. We’re buying the hype as Harris is currently ranked our RB15.

Related: Best Rookie Landing Spots for 2021 Fantasy Football

The concern for Harris is that the Steelers’s offensive line is seemingly going in the wrong direction with the loss of Alejandro Villanueva and Maurkice Pouncy. Pittsburgh will rely on 2018 third-round pick Chukwuma Okorafor to man the left tackle position. Pro Football Focus ranked Chukwuma as the 70th best tackle in 2020. 

Tight End
1615Eric Ebron159156558583.85.6139.89.32
6779Vance McDonald920159909.
122122Kevin Rader110000000

The Steelers drafted Pat Freiermuth at pick 55 in this year’s draft. Freiermuth was the clear No. 2 tight end in the draft, but he’s projected to play a more traditional role splitting time blocking and receiving instead of being a gigantic wide receiver like Kyle Pitts. 

Eric Ebron will be coming back for the 2021 campaign, and he’s likely the tight end to target if you’re going to take a shot on a Steelers tight end. Ebron is currently our TE22 for fantasy this year.

2021 Draft

Harris was the big get for the Steelers, and they followed that up by taking a solid, versatile tight end in Freiermuth before drafting Kendrick Green, a guard/center prospect, in the third-round and Dan Moore Jr., a tackle out of Texas A&M in the fourth to help sure-up their offensive line. 

The Schedule

As mentioned earlier, the Steelers schedule is projected to be a lot tougher in 2021, the second toughest, in fact. It could be a tough year for Pittsburgh.

What Does It All Mean?!?! (AKA – Bold predictions)

An aging and oft-injured QB behind an inexperienced, new-look offensive line is not a great recipe for success. While Claypool, JuJu, and Harris will be obvious fantasy targets, the arrow is pointing down for Pittsburgh overall this year. It may just be the end of an era for the Black and Yellow.


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