Depth Chart Fantasy Impact
For the 1st time since 2003, Pittsburgh won’t have Ben Roethlisberger around. The team signed Mitchell Trubisky in free agency after the vet’s retirement, and then drafted Pitt QB Kenny Pickett in Round 1. (No other QB would come off the board until the middle of Round 3.)
Trubisky flunked out of Chicago without the team even exercising his 5th-year option, after the Bears selected him 2nd overall in 2017. After a year of backing up Josh Allen in Buffalo, he’ll battle Pickett and Mason Rudolph (to a much lesser degree) for the starting job.
Pittsburgh’s backfield depth chart didn’t change after Najee Harris dominated work as a rookie. Harris ranked 2nd in the league in carries last season and tied Austin Ekeler for the target lead among RBs. Only Derrick Henry and Alvin Kamara garnered more opportunities per game (carries plus targets), and each missed multiple games.
Benny Snell returns as the primary backup and says he has slimmed down. He has also seen his yards per carry dip 2 straight years, from 3.9 down to 3.3 and 2.7. Snell managed only 40 total opportunities in last year’s shallow backfield.
Anthony McFarland barely saw the field in his 2nd season. An MCL tear at the start of the year certainly didn’t help. We’ll see whether he can become more of a factor.
WR Diontae Johnson heads into a contract year after tying for 2nd most targets in the league in his 3rd season. Only Cooper Kupp finished ahead in that category, while just 4 WRs caught more passes.
Chase Claypool comes off a rocky 2nd season to find new challengers for targets. Pittsburgh drafted WR George Pickens out of Georgia in Round 2 and then speedster Calvin Austin III from Memphis in Round 4. Claypool could be a candidate for more slot work in his 3rd year. No obvious replacement remains for that role after the Steelers shed JuJu Smith-Schuster and Ray-Ray McCloud – 2021’s top 2 slot players – this offseason.
The team also signed former Patriot Gunner Olszewski in free agency. He likely arrives primarily to return kicks and punts but also drew some 1st-team work at slot WR in spring drills.
Up front, the only addition is G James Daniels. He’ll take over for 1-year starter Trai Turner at right guard.
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