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The Steelers selected running back Najee Harris out of Alabama at 24th overall in the 2021 NFL Draft last week. He'll be the bell-cow running back that Mike Tomlin has been craving for. Tomlin and the Steelers believed they had that in James Conner, but he had troubles staying durable and is just not a top-tier running back. No disrespect to Conner, but Harris is a tremendous upgrade at the position. It's just that simple. The Steelers arguably had the worst running backs room in the league last year.
Harris is the complete package. He has great size at 6-foot-2, 230 pounds and can run inside and outside, along with catching the ball out of the backfield. He's also a solid pass protector. So, he can play on all three downs. He brings a different dimension to the Steelers at the running back position and he'll for sure be the starter in Week 1. He should also get plenty of touches, as the Steelers try to restore their proud tradition of running the ball effectively and imposing their will on opponents.
Due to the expected high volume of carries that Harris should receive in Year 1, Jarad Evans of Pro Football Focus has the Alabama product as the No. 1 rookie running back for fantasy football in 2021.
"The Steelers drafted Harris to be their next Le’Veon Bell — a true bell cow running back capable of handling a monster workload," Evans wrote of Harris. "From 2013-2017, Bell averaged a whopping 24.9 touches per game. That's the type of workload that fantasy managers dream of — Christian McCaffrey averaged 25.1 touches per game in his record-breaking 2019 season.
"Jump all over any Harris discount that arises out of concern for Pittsburgh’s reigning 31st-ranked run-blocking offensive line. The former Alabama standout impacts the game as both a runner and receiver with the size and strength to hold up as an every-down playmaker."