The regular season marks the culmination of an extensive investigation into who your team will be that year. By this point, you’ve gone through free agency, the draft, training camp, and the preseason. You feel good in your decisions insofar as you can create clarity without having played meaningful games. But there are still plenty of uncertainties that remain, whether at the start of the regular season or the end, and new ones continually develop over time.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: Najee Harris is the Steelers’ best player on offense right now.
Explanation: Six games into his rookie season, the running back accounts for 632 yards from scrimmage and has scored four touchdowns, being a significant contributor in the passing game as well as the running game. But they also have Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool at wide receiver, and Pat Freiermuth at tight end can be in the discussion as well.
This is not a competition. Najee Harris is both the most important and the best player the Steelers have on the offensive side of the ball, and is perhaps in the top three on the team as a whole, behind T.J. Watt and Christian Kuntz (just kidding, Cameron Heyward).
His rushing numbers might not look all that impressive on paper, but imagine what Benny Snell’s numbers would look like right now if he was given every carry that Harris has behind this very much in-development offensive line. He has done a lot with little.
And his versatility as a major contributor to the passing game cannot be overstated. Yes, most of his receptions are checkdowns, but checkdowns are pretty important, especially right now, when Ben Roethlisberger, who’s lost a lot of mobility, needs to get the ball out quickly.
I specified whether or not he is the Steelers’ best offensive player right now because I wanted to eliminate any generalizations. Right now, Diontae Johnson is the best player the Steelers have on offense, but Harris will be, I think.
Harris touches the ball more, of course, and has more of a play-to-play impact, but Johnson is the one that Ben Roethlisberger turns to. He has made some really great plays so far this season, showing off his nuanced route-running and ability to create separation. Quarterback play notwithstanding, there’s no reason he can’t put up Antonio Brown numbers.