Najee Harris is ready to cement himself as one of the best Running Backs (RB) in the NFL in 2022, and in the process has the chance to also lock in his status as a top tier asset in the game we all love: Fantasy Football.
As a Steelers fan, you’re probably looking for any excuse to draft Harris with your First Round pick. The purpose of this article is to help determine Najee’s true value, but you’ll have to make the determination for yourself as to “how high is too high” for selecting him.
Age: 24 Experience: 2 yrs
Height: 6’1” Weight: 244
2021 Fantasy Stats:
Rushing: 307 CAR/1,200 YDS/7 TD
Receiving: 74 REC/467 YDS/3 TD
Points/Rank: 300.7 PPR/RB3
Harris broke out quickly as a fantasy asset in 2021. In Fantasy sports, volume is king, and Najee Harris certainly had volume, handling the league’s largest workload. His 381 touches are the most by a Rookie RB since LaDainian Tomlinson’s 398 touches 20 years prior in 2001.
Despite the incredible volume, Harris struggled with efficiency operating behind one of the worst run-blocking Offensive Lines (OL) in the league. Just looking at the raw numbers, his 3.9 yds per carry looks rough, but if you watched Steelers games, you realize that number is actually impressive when you factor in the OL’s consistently poor play.
Harris also hauled in 74 receptions on 94 targets in Big Ben’s dink and dunk 2021 offense. In Point Per Reception (PPR) Leagues, this was a huge boost for his production, propelling him to an RB3 finish and big expectations for 2022.
Of RBs with 200+ attempts in 2021, the average yards per carry was 4.3. I would expect Najee Harris to be a lot closer to this number in ‘22 than his pedestrian 3.9 from last year. A lot of that will depend on the OL’s improvement and a passing game that actually moves the needle. Expect a decrease in overall workload, but that should be balanced out with greater efficiency and more goal-line work.
The Ceiling? Imagine if Harris duplicates his workload from 2021 with just average efficiency. Then imagine that the Steelers actually use their sledge-hammer of a RB more inside the 5 yard line. Double-digit Touchdowns are a real possibility, as is the offense’s reliance on him to be the top catalyst of success. In such a scenario, Najee Harris could easily push for RB1 numbers and be a league-winner as a mid-late 1st Round pick.
Najee’s floor is pretty high due to the expected workload and talent. Where we could see the most regression is in the passing game. With the team’s impressive lineup of receiving talent and the additions of intriguing role players like Calvin Austin III and Connor Heyward to the passing game, a decrease in workload as a receiver is likely. However, Harris’s rushing volume should remain high as the team’s clear-cut bell-cow. At worst, he’s likely a high-end RB2 in PPR leagues, and you’d give him a boost in non-PPR formats.
I am of the opinion that the only draft slot that is too high for Najee Harris is 1st Overall, where Jonathan Taylor is the clear-cut top option. After that, Harris has the talent, volume, and upside of everyone else, including Christian McCaffrey, Austin Ekeler, and Derrick Henry, and is worthy of a high 1st Round selection.
Projected Fantasy Stats
Rushing: 290 CAR/1,350 YDS/12 TD
Receiving: 55 REC/375 YDS/ 3 TD
Points/Rank: 317.5 PPR/RB2