Most people don’t think that the 2021 NFL Draft class has a superstar running back prospect in it, but many think that Alabama’s Najee Harris could be the best of the best. The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Harris with the No. 24 pick in the draft. Harris’s versatile skill set could make home an instant success in the pros, and he showcased how he can contribute to winning football in more than one way in college.
Harris led the country in rushing touchdowns his senior year and finished with 26. He also ranked third in rushing yards (1,466). Harris improved his receiving skills with each season and tallied 43 receptions for 425 yards and four scores last season.
Harris has the potential to be the Swiss army knife every team is looking for. He’s the perfect mix of size and speed and isn’t overly reliant on either. His 4.45-second 40-yard dash won’t make him the fastest on the field, but he can make tacklers miss at a high rate because of his ability to change directions and run with physicality. He can run in between and outside of the tackles and proved to be s solid route runner throughout his latest campaign. He doesn’t have breakaway speed and can get caught taking heavy contact often. That could create durability concerns for a potential three-down back like Harris.
Fantasy football impact
Najee Harris has virtually no competition in the running backs room, as he’ll be pushing the likes of Anthony McFarland Jr. and Kalen Ballage for touches. He’s an instant lock for a workhorse role out of the gate, and the Steelers are an offense that prefers to utilize a workhorse running back. If the Steelers can piece together an offensive line, Harris could finish his rookie season as a low-end RB1.
The only concern for Najee Harris’ long-term value should be the questions regarding the offense. We’ve seen offensive production take a tumble any time Ben Roethlisberger has been out with an injury, and with retirement likely looming after the 2021 season, there are questions to be answered. However, touches are king in fantasy football, and he’s a lock to receive them right out of the gate.