2023 Fantasy Football Pittsburgh Steelers Preview

by Dennis Sosic
2023 Fantasy Football Pittsburgh Steelers Preview

Welcome Fantasy friends and foes as I help continue the F6P Team Previews with the 2023 Fantasy Football Pittsburgh Steelers Preview.

The first season without Big Ben still saw the Pittsburgh Steelers finish the season 9-8, which gave the Steelers their 19th consecutive non-losing season since 2003. They struggled out of the gate, going 3-7 but turned it around and went 6-1 across their last seven games.

One main reason? The Steelers gelled around rookie signal caller Kenny Pickett, and just missed the playoffs last season.

The natural progression of Pickett, along with strengthening their defense this offseason, should push the Steelers to fight for a playoff spot in 2023. However, their biggest obstacle is their offensive coordinator Matt Canada. Canada, the increasingly unpopular play-caller, oversaw an offense that scored only 28 offensive touchdowns, the third-fewest in the league. His offenses have regressed in the past three years, reaching 12th but then to 21st to 26th.

Does Kenny Pickett take the next step? How long before Head Coach Mike Tomlin fires Matt Canada? Does the Steelers' defense improve? The answers to these questions and much more can be found in the 2023 Fantasy Football Pittsburgh Steelers Preview.

2023 Fantasy Football Pittsburgh Steelers Preview

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Quarterbacks

Besides Matt Canada struggling at calling plays, the Steelers were tasked with replacing the legend Big Ben. Mitch Trubisky was signed in the offseason, and he continued playing not to lose, which ultimately cost him his starting job. Tomlin turned to rookie Kenny Pickett who initially struggled but got stronger each week and led the Steelers to three come-from-behind victories.

Pickett is the team's 2023 unquestioned starter and will look to build upon his late-season success. He finished 7-5 with a 7-to-9 touchdown pass-to-interception ratio across 13 games. Numbers have to make SteelerNation quite nervous. However, his progress following their bye week should result in enthusiasm considering the surrounding talent in the Steelers' offense. Pickett is, at best, a limited fantasy option as a bye-week fill-in as your QB2.

Trubisky and Rudolph had opportunities to lead the Steelers' offense, but both failed considerably. Unless you are completely desperate, fantasy managers will not pick up either player, even if Pickett went down.

Running Backs

Najee Harris epitomizes the workhorse running back. Harris continues to be the opportunity-based back in fantasy. He saw a whopping 384 touches in his rookie season, most of which were dump-offs by weary-armed Big Ben. Harris followed his rookie campaign with 313 touches last season with an inefficient 3.8 yards per carry. Finishing as the RB14 in fantasy points scored among running backs but was drafted by many as a top 10 RB. His incredible value during the 2021 season resulted from his 74 receptions, but he saw a considerable decline to 41 last season. Continuing the reduction in usage should push Harris into low-end RB2 territory.

Jaylen Warren's role is a third down and rotational back, and he averaged five yards per carry. More impressively, he also averaged 7.6 yards per reception, and his play-making ability should force the Steelers to give Warren more touches. Every fantasy manager that rosters Harris should make a point to add Warren late in your drafts.

The remaining backfield options for the Steelers do not amount to much fantasy relevance.

Wide Receivers

Diontae Johnson had a frustrating 2022 season, leading the team with 86 catches, but unfortunately set an NFL record for most receptions without a touchdown. Johnson also finished with the second-most drops in the league last season.

The dropoff from his outstanding 2021 season was quite evident, but the offense struggled with the transition to Kenny Pickett taking over. A potential rebound should allow fantasy managers to grab Johnson as their WR2 in their weekly lineups.

George Pickens displays how talented he is with multiple highlight reel plays. Pickens produced 52 catches for 801 yards and four touchdowns. He utilizes his 6'3" frame and 4.4 speed to help the Steelers' offense become more vertical, and is a splash play waiting to happen. His 15.6 ADOT was the third-highest in the league. Pickens is a boom-or-bust fantasy option best suited to be your WR3.

The Steelers swapped seventh-rounders with the Los Angeles Rams in the 2023 NFL Draft to obtain veteran wide receiver, Allen Robinson. Robinson struggled mightily with the Rams, with just 33 receptions for 339 yards and three scores. Acquiring Robinson was a low-risk move, but he has zero fantasy relevance, just like he wasn't with the Rams.

Tight End

Pat Freiermuth is a fan-favorite tight end who took a second-year leap last season. Freirmuth became Pickett's security blanket that saw his targets increase by 21 and his receiving yards jump by 235. The former Nittany Lion, who dropped only three passes last season, shined in the new role and finished as the TE12 in tight-end scoring.

With the addition of 2023 third-round pick Darnell Washington, we are bound to see considerably more two tight end sets in the Steelers' offense. Washington was drafted primarily for his superior blocking ability but possesses enough athletic ability to make an immediate offensive impact.

Zach Gentry and Connor Heyward flashed last season but have zero fantasy significance.

The Final Verdict

I agree with the line on the Pittsburgh Steelers' win total at over/under 8.5. The Steelers are hoping for Kenny Pickett to take another step, but there are plenty of question marks regardless of how promising he played in the second half last season.

The Steelers did improve from last season, headlining their offseason by adding pieces around TJ Watt on defense and improving their offensive line in front of Pickett.

They finished third in the AFC North last season, and it is challenging to see a scenario where they beat out the Cincinnati Bengals or the Baltimore Ravens for the division title. Like last season, the Steelers will battle the Cleveland Browns to stay out of the AFC North cellar.

The development of Pickett will be the biggest determining factor on the Steelers' record and fantasy success of the Steelers' weapons this season.


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