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Fantasy Football Starts and Sits: Week 1, Steelers at Bengals

Who to start and sit from the Steelers matchup this week.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Last year, Andrew Wilbar and I co-authored this very series each week, and hopefully landed more correct takes than not. Andrew will be focusing on 2023 NFL Draft prospects each week, so this year, it falls to me, Jeremy Betz, to carry your Fantasy hopes and dreams in this weekly article. Maybe I’m putting too much on myself, but I don’t thinks so. I know yinz come here first for your fantasy advice anyway, so I’ll do my darnedest not to let you down! Just know that I absolutely will run from any responsibility on bad takes in this piece.

The Steelers have several quality fantasy assets this year, starting with Najee Harris out of the backfield, who I expect to have another fantastic year. Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and George Pickens will have their ups and downs, but I expect each of them to make a fantasy impact this year, especially DJ, who should be a volume-based WR2 in 2022. Pat Freiermuth could easily rank as a weekly starter at TE, and Mitch Trubisky will have streaming/QB2 value for as long as he is the starter.

For this year’s articles, I’ll be ranking each fantasy relevant player from MUST START to MUST SIT, and I’ll also highlight the biggest DFS values from the contest.

Steelers football is here, baby! I’m looking forward to watching the 2022 version of the Black and Gold.

Anyway, with all that being said, let’s dive into it!


RB: Najee Harris

WR: Ja’marr Chase

Although Pittsburgh held Ja’Marr Chase relatively in check in 2021, he still scored 2 TDs in the 1st matchup, and is primed for another big year. The Steelers’ secondary is relatively unproven, and Chase has the stuff to take advantage. Another year in Zach Taylor’s offense with ol’ buddy Burrow tossing him won’t hurt either. Set it and forget it.

Najee Harris should continue his bell-cow ways in 2022, and I expect a little better efficiency out of the 2nd-year back. Rumors of his receiving usage going down might have been greatly exaggerated. With Mitchell Trubisky having to navigate the poor Offensive Line play in front of him, Harris will likely see his share of dump-offs. Lock and load Harris for Week 1.


QB: Joe Burrow

RB: Joe Mixon

WR: Tee Higgins, Diontae Johnson

TE: Pat Freiermuth

K: Evan McPherson, Chris Boswell

Burrow was a mixed bag in 2021, with the majority of his fantasy production coming in only 3 games. Despite the inconsistency, you can’t afford to sit a QB with this much talent and this many weapons. Don’t overthink it.

Mixon owned the Steelers in their second matchup last year, to the tune of 165 rushing yards and 2 TDs. He should be a solid RB1 in this matchup, despite what should be a revamped Steelers rush D.

Tee Higgins was quietly a top 10 PPR fantasy receiver in 2021 and benefits greatly from Ja’Marr Chase’s presence in the offense. Higgins also had his way with Pittsburgh in matchup 2.0 last year, racking up a 6/114/1 line and 23.4 PPR points. Higgins should be in lineups this week.

Diontae Johnson is the Steelers WR1 until proven otherwise. As such, he should be in starting lineups. The Bengals secondary wasn’t great in 2021, and DJ’s elite route running ability makes him fairly matchup-proof. Role with DJ this week if you have him.

Pat Freiermuth should make this list a ton this year, and I really like him this week. Trubisky will be looking for the big TE often as he settles into the offense and flow of the game. ‘Muth has fantastic Red Zone upside, making him a very solid play this week.

The Kickers on both teams are automatic. If you have them, start them.


WR: Chase Claypool

“Mapletron” is gonna be SUPER cheap this week and is the epitome of a boom or bust option this week. I like Claypool in this matchup, where he will likely lineup primarily in the slot vs. former Steeler Mike Hilton with Diontae Johnson and George Pickens playing the traditional Z and X roles in the offense. Chase has a major size advantage over Hilton, and I believe this matchup is circled on Matt Canada’s gameplan for this week. If it doesn’t work, it’s a cheap flyer, no sweat. If it works, Claypool could win your week.


WR: Tyler Boyd, George Pickens

TE: Hayden Hurst

D/ST: Bengals

Boyd will have a game here and there, but there’s too much talent ahead of him to make it worth a start this week, even in the FLEX. For Pickens, we haven’t even seen the Rookie in regular season action yet, so let’s see what type of role he has before rolling the dice. Hurst isn’t going to be a primary target for Burrow this year. The Bengals D/ST scored well in the 2nd matchup in 2021 vs Pittsburgh, but there just isn’t tape on this version of the Steelers offense, and Matt Canada’s group could take advantage.


D/ST: Steelers

Too many weapons on this Bengals team. You can find a better option this week on the waiver wire, such as Carolina against the undermanned Browns or the Titans vs the Giants.

Just remember, if you heed my advice and it goes well, I’ll own it! But if it goes south… that’s on you, friend.