2014 Fantasy Football Profile: Steelers RB LeGarrette Blount

By Tony DelSignore Jr.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are excited about adding another weapon to their offensive arsenal. Signed as a free agent from the New England Patriots, LeGarrette Blount will join Le’Veon Bell to form an impressive duo in the Steelers backfield. The Steelers running game has been anything but impressive over the past few seasons. Rookie Le’Veon Bell helped the Steelers make strides in the run game at the end of 2013, but the team still ranked 27th with only 86.4 rushing yards per game last year.

The Steelers were unhappy with the production of their reserve running backs over the past few seasons. Isaac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer and Felix Jones did not provide the quality depth at running back that Head Coach Mike Tomlin was looking for. This off season, they went out and signed Blount to bolster the intentions of establishing a power running game again in Pittsburgh. Blount has been extremely impressive during his four year career. Last year with New England he averaged 5.0 yards per carry on 153 carries, which ranked 6th in the NFL. Blount really made a name for himself at the end of the 2013 season when he ran for 189 yards and two touchdowns in a week 17 win against the Buffalo Bills. Blount followed up that stellar performance with an incredible 166 yards and four touchdowns in the AFC Divisional Playoffs against the Indianapolis Colts. As a rookie in Tampa Bay, Blount also averaged 5.0 yards per carry on 201 carries. His career mark of 4.7 yards per carry will add a lot of value to the Steelers run game that averaged only 3.5 yards per rush in 2013.

Aside from the improvement at running back in the off season, the Steelers are very excited about the potential of their young offensive line this year. In 2013, there was significant improvement in the offensive line over the final two months of the season. The Steelers oft injured line was able to gel with a mix of backups and young players to help improve the offensive efficiency as a whole. This season Maurkice Pouncey will return from injury to boost the talent along the offensive line. Continuity at every other position on the line, along with the hire of top-shelf offensive line coach Mike Munchak could make Blount and Bell a feared running tandem around the league.

Concerns from Le’Veon Bell fantasy owners over the signing of LeGarrette Blount are somewhat overblown in my opinion. Blount was clearly brought in to backup Bell, and will serve the purpose of keeping Bell fresh throughout the season. Blount may see some short yardage and goal line work but he has not excelled in that area, dating back to his days in Tampa Bay. With Blount and rookie Dri Archer in the mix with starter Le’Veon Bell, the Steelers will keep defenses on their toes throughout the season with the running attack. Expect the Steelers to return to more of a balanced offensive attack this season, which may create even more chances for Blount to grind down defenses at the end of games.

According to Fantasy Football Calculator (which tracks average draft position of every player in real and mock fantasy drafts throughout the offseason), LeGarrette Blount is being selected at the end of the 11th round at pick 11.12 (*based on standard & PPR 12 team, 16 round drafts). Begin targeting Blount at the beginning of the 11th round in your upcoming fantasy drafts if you feel that you need to handcuff starter Le’Veon Bell. I typically do not recommend drafting backup running backs but in Thursday’s press conference, Mike Tomlin hinted that both Bell and Blount will see their fair share in the running game. Although I still believe Bell will see the majority of work in the Steelers backfield, Blount may be worth grabbing in deeper drafts as a deep flex option.

My season projections for LeGarrette Blount are: 90 rushing attempts, 432 yards, 4 touchdowns. 11 receptions, 92 yards.

Follow me on Twitter at @TonyD_12 and @SteelersDepot for more Steelers fantasy analysis and projections throughout the 2014 season.

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