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Buy Or Sell: Anthony McFarland Will Start To See Larger Role In Offense

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: Anthony McFarland will begin to see an expanded role from this point forward.

Explanation: After a long stint on the Reserve/Injured List to start the season, and then a spell during which he was a healthy scratch, McFarland finally dressed again Sunday and played 12 snaps, with three touches.

Buy:

The Steelers are entering the point of the season at which they are going to be more conscientious about the workload that Najee Harris gets. That’s going to involve giving some work to a running back like Anthony McFarland who can do some things with his speed that the other backs cannot.

The coaching staff has been talking up the need for and importance of getting some explosive plays, and they know they’re not getting them with McFarland. They drafted him because of the different dimension that he can bring, but he can’t do that from the sideline.

And you know Matt Canada loves his sweeps, jets, and end-arounds. McFarland can be used in those. Now that he’s back in the mix, it should be no problem finding some opportunities for him.

Sell:

Sunday’s was the first game in which Najee Harris played under 80 percent of the snaps for reasons other than health. Right now that’s a fluke, not a pattern. Assuming that he continues to get 80 percent of the playing time, there isn’t even going to be room for a role.

On top of that, they’ve already shown their hand. Benny Snell and Kalen Ballage are going to play, as well. The two combined for six touches between them. The totality of all running backs other than Harris resulted in nine touches, and that remains an aberration. They’re going to split up whatever workload isn’t left on the rookie’s shoulders.

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