The Pittsburgh Steelers selected running back Najee Harris out of Alabama at 24th overall in the 2021 NFL Draft last week. He’s now expected to be the team’s bell cow ball carrier moving forward. Due to the expected high volume of carries that Harris is expected to receive in his first season in the NFL, 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’ 2021 prospects. “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.”
Harris is indeed the expected complete every-down running back for the Steelers, especially based on how Alabama used him. He has great size at 6013, 232 pounds. Not only can he run inside and outside and in different zone and man blocking schemes, but he can also catch the ball out of the backfield in addition to being a solid pass protector. In short, Harris can play on all three downs for the Steelers, starting Week 1 of the 2021 regular season.
It’s easy to project Harris as having at least 1,200 total yards from scrimmage as a rookie along with at least six total touchdowns. He’ll likely touch the football at least 250 total times as a rookie if he stays healthy.