What a world we live in where differing opinions on the same topic are a commonality.
This is the case for a multitude of topics, including sports. As far as the NFL goes and more specifically the Pittsburgh Steelers, we have been hearing plenty this offseason how TE Pat Freiermuth is primed for a breakout season according to several media outlets. Some have tabbed the second-year TE to be Pittsburgh’s first-time Pro Bowl selection while others have proclaimed him to push the rest of the field for consideration as one of the top five at his position in the game.
Still, while these outlooks have examined Freiermuth with rose-colored glasses, not all analysts see his situation improving heading into 2022. According to a recently published CBS Sports piece that broke down projection model featured on SportsLine, Freiermuth is actually in-line to be a “bust” when it comes to his outlook for the 2022 fantasy football season.
“As for players to avoid, the model lists Pittsburgh tight end Pat Freiermuth as one of its 2022 Fantasy football busts,” the article said on Freiermuth. “With so many mouths to feed and uncertainty when it comes to quarterback production next season, the model projects Freiermuth as a worse Fantasy value than others being drafted after him like George Kittle, Dalton Schultz and Kyle Pitts.”
First off, I do believe that the author means that Freiermuth projects to be a worse fantasy value than others being drafted before him, seeing as Kittle, Schultz, and Pitts all rank higher in average draft position (ADP) than Freiermuth on all major fantasy sites.
Regarding the comments made above on Freiermuth, there is some truth to the unsure situation he figures to face in 2022. It is true that Ben Roethlisberger developed a chemistry with Freiermuth early in the 2021 season, especially around the red zone where he managed to come down with seven TD receptions on 79 targets. That comes out to nearly a 9% TD rate-per-target which ranks way about the league average at both the TE and the WR positions. Should Pittsburgh throw the ball less in 2021 with Roethlisberger no longer under center and the other options in the passing game that the article references demand targets their way as well, Freiermuth may have a tough time replicating that TD total on a per-target basis.
Still, while state of the Pittsburgh passing game is cause for concern, we also must be mindful of what could go right for Freiermuth heading into Year Two. First, we expect him to start the season as Pittsburgh’s #1 TE and start all 17 games if healthy, something he didn’t do to begin last season with Eric Ebron in the fold and given the fact he was a rookie. Should he accomplish this, we should expect him to play more than just 62% of the offensive snaps this season, leading to him being on the field for more routes, thus being able to draw more targets and catch more passes.
Pittsburgh’s offense also could open with a more mobile passer, allowing Freiermuth to stretch the filed more in 2022 rather than operating as a check down/safety blanket option for Ben who was getting the ball out in just over two seconds on most of his passes. Being used more down the field will allow Freiermuth to have a better ADOT which could correlate to a higher YPR and possibly more yards after the catch.
This shouldn’t be a ringing endorsement that Freiermuth will be the next Rob Gronkowski in fantasy football this season, as even he didn’t like the “Baby Gronk” nickname he had coming out of Penn State. Still, while the SportsLine model may project Freiermuth as a bust, it all comes down to context. If Freiermuth is expected to produce the same yardage and catch totals as George Kittle and Kyle Pitts, then he should be considered unlikely to meet that threshold. However, if his expectations are more in line with his ADP as the 12th TE off the board, Freiermuth should be able to match that projection in 2022 and likely exceed it should his role increase as he becomes a stable presence in the offense for years to come in Pittsburgh.
What are your thoughts on Pat Freiermuth? Do you think he will be a “bust” in fantasy football this year? Do you think he is more likely to exceed expectations or underwhelm this season? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below and thanks again for reading!