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2023 Dynasty Fantasy Football Faller: Najee Harris

Najee Harris - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris was selected with the No. 24 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft after a stellar career at Alabama. The 232-pound back displayed juicy receiving upside given his size and was fully expected to be a PPR fantasy machine immediately. Harris delivered an RB3 season in PPR formats as a rookie, rushing for 1,200 yards on 307 attempts and catching 74 of his 94 targets for 467 yards. He also totaled 10 touchdowns.

However, his sophomore campaign was disappointing, to say the least. We knew he would probably see some regression in his overall workload from his 381-touch rookie year, but his rushing efficiency declined and his overall receiving production took a sharp hit. Harris failed to finish the year as an RB1 in a mediocre year for the position as a whole – and is now one of the biggest dynasty fantasy football fallers heading into 2023.

In this edition of dynasty risers and fallers, we'll dive into Harris' 2022 campaign, his dynasty value and trade market, and his 2023 fantasy football outlook. Let's get to it!

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers won two writing awards and received 12 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. A big congrats to our very own Byron Lindeque (Golf) and Jordan McAbee (NASCAR) for both winning Writer Of The Year awards! Be sure to follow RotoBaller's analysis and advice all year long, and win more. Win More With RotoBaller!

2022 Season Review

Harris entered the 2022 season with a foot injury that cost him time in the preseason, but that didn't stop him from being a top-five RB in preseason ADP. His Week 1 workload and production would foreshadow the mistake that would become.

Harris rushed 10 times for just 23 yards and caught two passes for three yards and a touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals with Mitch Trubisky at QB. His fantasy performance was saved thanks to the one-yard receiving score, but his fantasy managers were immediately put on notice.

He followed that up with 15 rushes for 49 yards and five receptions for 40 yards in Week 2, posting his first RB1 week of the year at RB12. Little did fantasy managers know – it would be one of just three RB1 finishes in 2022.

From Week 3 to Week 5, Harris rushed 44 times for 150 yards (3.4 YPC) and caught six of seven targets for 21 yards. He scored zero touchdowns during that stretch. That production made him just the RB36 with 9.0 fantasy points per game in PPR formats in the three-game span – leading to full-blown panic mode for his drafters. He also saw a lackluster workload and wasn't efficient in Week 6 – rushing 14 times for 42 yards and catching two passes for seven yards – but another red zone touchdown saved his fantasy day.

In summary, he posted RB22 numbers through six weeks and only delivered respectable fantasy performances with touchdowns near the goal line. His pass-catching volume would pick up a bit between Weeks 7 and 10, but he still only finished as the RB28, RB26, and RB28 in those three games, respectively.

His spike came in the Week 11 rematch with the Bengals as the Alabama product handled 20 carries for 90 yards and two touchdowns, adding four receptions for 26 yards on his way to an RB3 finish. Rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett had his best day as a pro as the Steelers scored 30 points and Harris finished inside the top 10 weekly RBs for the first time since Week 17 of 2021.

Harris was a respectable fantasy option at RB from this point on – posting RB28, RB25, RB15, RB18, RB13, RB9, and RB13 finishes (in that order). His overall fantasy production improved as Pickett got more comfortable in the Steelers' offense, but again, Harris was a preseason top-five running back selection, so 14 finishes outside the top 12 weekly RBs surely hurt his stock.

Overall, Harris finished his sophomore season with 272 carries for 1,034 yards and seven rushing scores, and 41 receptions on 53 targets for three receiving touchdowns. According to PlayerProfiler.com data, Harris ranked 59th in true yards per carry (3.7), 52nd in yards per touch (4.0), 51st in breakaway run rate (2.6%), 45th in yards created per touch (2.13), 28th in yards per route run (0.92), and 63rd in fantasy points per touch/target (0.69) among running backs.

He ranked 14th in total fantasy points, but RB19 in fantasy points per game. It was a positive sign to see him make it through the season without any missed action after a monster workload as a rookie, but he failed to deliver fantasy managers. Harris was one of only eight running backs to see 300 or more touches, but all the other seven backs finished as top-11 running backs in 2022. People who used a first-round pick on him likely finished near the bottom of their league rankings.

 

Najee Harris Dynasty Value/Market

While player valuations will vary widely from league to league, KeepTradeCut.com is a helpful resource for getting an idea of a player's value. These crowdsourced rankings have Harris as the dynasty RB12 and the 39th most valuable player or draft pick overall (single-QB leagues). At this time last year (April 17), Harris was valued as the RB3. Needless to say, it has been a sharp decline for the former first-round pick.

Najee-Harris-Dynast-Value

Najee Harris Dynasty Value

He's now in the range of banged-up RBs like Javonte Williams and aging veterans like Austin Ekeler. At peak value last season, he was easily worth an early first-round rookie pick, but it's hard to expect even a mid-first-round selection in return for him after a disappointing season.

 

2023 Fantasy Football Outlook

In early FFPC draft ADP, Harris is coming off the board at the RB14 spot (37.43 overall). Generally speaking, this is probably an appropriate spot for Harris. With a mobile Pickett under center instead of the aging Ben Roethlisberger from his rookie year, he's less likely to see consistent high-volume passing game usage. Pickett has the ability to scramble or extend plays outside of the pocket, so it was natural for Harris to see target regression from 2021 to 2022.

However, he's still likely to see one of the heaviest workloads among all running backs and if the Steelers' offense takes a significant leap in the upcoming season, Harris could have more touchdown upside. A healthy Harris should have a mid-level RB2 floor with an RB1 ceiling, but unless he sees elite volume and Pittsburgh's offense is a top-10 unit in the NFL, we likely won't replicate his stellar rookie-season performance.

It's worth noting undrafted free agent rookie Jaylen Warren was the more efficient and explosive runner last season, but given his lack of draft capital, it's tough to see him taking a large chunk of Harris' touches. He could see more opportunity, but it shouldn't be enough to cause us to fade Harris. As a general rule, we shouldn't fade players altogether after a down season. At Harris' RB14 ADP, he's more than worth taking on in early 2023 fantasy drafts.



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