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Can Najee Harris Reach the RB1 Mountain Top?

Najee Harris finished as RB3 last year but can he climb the mountain top to be RB1, or even more? @MandrewH_ takes a look at the pros and cons in this argument.

Najee Harris received all the hype in the NFL Draft process, and then he landed in a dream spot. The Pittsburgh Steelers would select Harris in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. After drafting him, they made him a cornerstone in their offense by overwhelming him with touches.  

Despite all those touches, Harris was leaving a lot to be desired. We saw him start slow once he was given the starting job, and it wasn’t till the end of the year he hit his stride. Will that momentum carry over to 2022? Or will he have a slow start again that fails that get him to the RB1 mountain top?

There are several arguments for both sides of that coin, and both are easily attainable as well, sadly. Breaking down those pros and cons should help you with that in mind. It can help you decide to draft him this year or acquire him versus potentially trading him away to someone else. Harris is an easy to like player, both on the field and off, keep in mind. If you aren’t a fan, he should be an easy trade-away piece by the end of this all. If not, then acquiring him may prove to be a challenge depending. 

Regardless, let’s share some information and key talking points as we decide if Harris can be this year’s RB1.

Pro: History is on His Side 

The folks over at Fantasy Pros have been tracking fantasy scoring going back to 2013. In the nine seasons that they have tracked positional scoring, no RB has repeated as the fantasy scoring champ. What does that mean? It means players get hurt, rosters change, and the running back position is unforgiving. Last year, Harris finished as RB3 behind Jonathan Taylor and Austin Ekeler. Taylor is on a team with a new fantasy quarterback to pass the ball with. Ekeler has been overused for a while now. The odds do not favor them taking or maintaining the number one spot. Harris, on the other hand? The sky is the limit for him.

Con: The Steelers Offensive Line 

There is no sense in beating around the bush. The Steelers’ offensive line is bad. The team has a bunch of young and flexible players on the front but no one who can be strong and reliable at their position. They have lost several key veterans over the last couple of years, and despite their best efforts through the draft, they just can’t hit. Behind that offensive line last year, Harris could only get 3.9 YPC on 30 carries. I worry how much longer he could handle that enormous workload and stay healthy behind this type of line.

Pro: The Steelers Want to Play Kenny Pickett 

This year, Ben Roethlisberger leaving the Steelers may be the best move possible for this offense. Sadly, his arm was just so far gone that teams knew to stack the box. Stacking the box, one could say, did play a major part in Harris having such low yards per carry. However, the addition of Mitchell Trubisky and Kenny Pickett could be great news for Najee Harris. NFL coaching staffs know that rookie QBs need to be coddled. Best way to coddle them? Take the ball out of their hands as they learn. Last year is a prime example. Mac Jones was considered the most successful rookie QB last year. Why? The Patriots ran the ball. The Steelers have a good, smart staff; expect Harris to continue to be the most consistent thing in the team’s offense. 

Verdict

I loved Harris as a prospect, he could have come out as a junior, but he didn’t. He waited a year, got better and stronger, and hit the ground running in the NFL. He has the build to be sustainable in this league, and he can be a gold mine for you, the dynasty player. Hold your shares, acquires them if you don’t have them, and grab some oxygen. You will need some when you plant your flag with Harris atop RB1 mountain.

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