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Pittsburgh Steelers Fantasy Football News | Shark Bites

Fantasy Football News 2022

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Steelers beat writer Ray Fittipaldo believes QB Kenny Pickett must “blow their doors off to beat out [Mitch] Trubisky to start the season opener.” We’d be surprised if Pickett doesn’t start games in 2022. But the point stands that Trubisky — with 50 career starts — has the upper hand early on. Our current QB projections have Pickett starting the majority of Pittsburgh's games next season.

Speaking at rookie OTAs, Steelers WR Calvin Austin said his weight fluctuates between 170-175 pounds. At 5’8 and even 175, he’ll likely struggle to see a full-time role — even a few years down the line. Pittsburgh also added Georgia WR George Pickens in Round 2, and he’ll join a strong top-2 of Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool. Johnson does enter a contract year, so Austin could be setup for a 2nd-year bump. Still, odds are, he’ll provide more real-life value than fantasy value. At Memphis, Austin returned 2 punts for scores on 29 opportunities.

The Steelers have declined the 5th-year option on former 10th-overall pick LB Devin Bush. None of Bush's 3 seasons to date has seen him remain a full-time player throughout. He has struggled in both coverage and run defense, which isn't a great combo for any defender -- much less a 1st-round LB. At this point, we're not betting on a big rebound for Bush's fantasy value/outlook in any setting.

Mark Kaboly of The Athletic considers 4th-round WR Calvin Austin the “biggest question mark” in Pittsburgh’s draft class. Kaboly writes that Austin could be used as a “toy” in OC Matt Canada’s offense, seeing touches on end-arounds and jet sweeps. Austin’s only 5’8 but brings exciting speed to the Steelers’ new-look offense. “He is smaller but he is extremely fast,” GM Kevin Colbert said. “I think he timed on our watches in the 4.4s at the Combine, but coach reminded me that he is a 200-meter guy and he’s probably hitting his peak speed at 40 yards.” Unlikely to ever project for high volume, Austin profiles more as a real-life asset than a fantasy one.

Steelers HC Mike Tomlin confirmed that 1st-round QB Kenny Pickett will be given a chance to start Week 1. “Yeah, he certainly has a chance,” Tomlin said. “We felt he came ready made and hopefully that’s an asset to him being ready — if performance dictates.” We’d call Mitch Trubisky the favorite to start come September, but he’ll likely be on thin ice.

The Steelers added Memphis WR Calvin Austin in Round 4 of the 2022 NFL Draft. Austin goes just 5’8 and 170 pounds, which figures to be a limiting factor. But he’s an electric playmaker, with a 4.32-second 40 time and elite agility. He earned a 90th percentile Relative Athletic Score. Austin led Memphis in receiving each of the past 2 seasons, with 63-1,053-11 and 74-1,149-8 lines. He played primarily outside the numbers in college but figures to be a slot and gadget player as a pro. He joins fellow rookie WR George Pickens in Pittsburgh, behind WRs Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool.

The Steelers added Georgia WR George Pickens with the 52nd overall pick of the 2022 NFL Draft. Pickens was a 5-star recruit and a top-5 WR in the 2019 class. He immediately delivered on that hype, leading the Bulldogs in catches (49), yards (727) and TDs (8) as a true freshman. He ranked 17th in Pro Football Focus’ receiving grades among 290 WRs with 50+ targets – 2 spots ahead of Jerry Jeudy and 3 spots ahead of Justin Jefferson. Pickens improved his per-game numbers a tad in 2020, averaging 4.5 catches, 64.1 yards and .75 TDs across 8 games. But his PFF receiving grade took a significant step back, landing 75th among 146 qualifying WRs. Pickens’ 2021 was then basically wiped out by a torn right ACL suffered in March of that year. He made it back for the final 4 games of the season but totaled just 4 catches. That freshman year is enticing, though, and Pickens pops on tape. He has long-striding speed, a big catch radius and is physical after the catch. The 6’3, 195-pounder earned a 94th percentile Relative Athletic Score at the Combine. Pickens’ limited college resume leaves him as a risky prospect. But he has the upside to develop into a #1 WR in the NFL. Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool are locked in as Pittsburgh’s top 2 WRs in the short term, but Pickens has a good shot to win the #3 WR job this summer. Longer term, Johnson is is the final year of his contract and Claypool is set to hit free agency in 2024.

The Steelers grabbed QB Kenny Pickett with the 20th overall pick of the 2022 NFL Draft. Pickett spent 5 years at Pittsburgh, starting most of the past 4. It wasn’t until 2021 that he broke out, though, throwing for 4,319 yards and 42 TDs. That more than doubled his career total for TD tosses. Pickett brings above-average mobility (72nd-percentile speed score for the position), but he has drawn comparisons with Andy Dalton and Teddy Bridgewater. We see limited fantasy football upside here, but Pickett stands a good chance to beat out QB Mitchell Trubisky this summer. That’s a situation to avoid in early fantasy drafts.

The Steelers claimed WR Miles Boykin off waivers from the Ravens. It's a fine landing spot considering Anthony Miller is currently the favorite for Pittsburgh's #3 WR job behind Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool. But Boykin will need to show us a lot more than he did in Baltimore before we consider him a fantasy target.

The Ravens released WR Miles Boykin. The 2019 3rd-rounder has struggled with injuries and totaled just 33 catches over his first 3 NFL seasons. We'll see where Boykin lands next, but his dynasty value is on life support. Marquise Brown and Rashod Bateman are locked in as Baltimore's top 2 WRs heading into 2022, with Devin Duvernay, James Proche and Tylan Wallace currently rounding out the depth chart.

The Steelers on Thursday signed LB Myles Jack to a 2-year, $16 million deal with $6.5 million guaranteed. That's starter money for 2022 at least. According to Spotrac, the contract seems to be structured in a way that Pittsburgh can decide about 2023 after seeing Jack for a year. The 26-year-old (until September) washed out with the team that drafted him and then extended him. We'd be surprised if he turns into a terrific real-life player in Pittsburgh. For fantasy football, on the other hand, Jack lands well in what should be a full-time role next to a LB (Devin Bush) who has been more disappointing relative to 1st-round draft status. Depending on where Jack lands in IDP drafts this summer, the new Steeler could be a nice value.

CB Levi Wallace is joining the Steelers on a 2-year, $8 million deal, according to ESPN's Brooke Pryor. Wallace started 52 games over 4 seasons with the Bills, including all 17 last year. Wallace has been relevant for IDP leagues, especially those that require CBs. But he's not a special fantasy football option -- and likely won't be with the Steelers.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that the Jaguars are releasing LB Myles Jack. He's still just 26 and had remained a starter for Jacksonville, but Jack's contract has outweighed his contributions. His release will save the team $8.35 million in cap space. Expect Jack to land at least a shot at a starting job elsewhere.

The Steelers have agreed to a 2-year deal with QB Mitchell Trubisky, according to multiple reports. It's a sensible fit for both sides. Trubisky gets another shot at starting, after a year in Buffalo. Pittsburgh gets a stopgap type with a much higher ceiling than Mason Rudolph presents. We don't believe this move keeps the Steelers from being in the market for a QB in this year's NFL Draft, but Trubisky's arrival makes it less of a glaring need. Assuming Trubisky hits Week 1 as the Pittsburgh starter, he could be especially good for WR Chase Claypool. Each of Trubisky's 1st 3 NFL seasons found him earning better Pro Football Focus passing grades in the deep range (20+ yards downfield) than intermediate or short. Claypool sported 11.4-yard and 13.2-yard average depths of target the past 2 seasons -- according to Pro Football Reference -- compared with 8.5 and 7.9 for Diontae Johnson. As for the QB himself, Trubisky has displayed top-12 fantasy-scoring potential and makes for an intriguing best-ball option anywhere outside that range.

Update: NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reports that Trubisky is getting $14.25 million over 2 years, with incentives that could make it worth up to $27 million. Clearly, the Steelers aren't committing to Trubisky but building in financial upside in case he proves truly starter-worthy.

Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger announced his retirement via a video posted on Twitter on Thursday morning. It ends an 18-year career -- all with Pittsburgh. Roethlisberger played some ugly football over the past couple of seasons but had an awesome career in totality. He currently ranks 5th in career passing yards and 8th in passing TDs. Big Ben won 67% of his regular-season starts and went 13-10 in the playoffs with 2 Super Bowl wins. Roethlisberger is a no-doubt Hall of Famer. The Steelers, meanwhile, have only QB Mason Rudolph signed for 2022. He'll reportedly get a shot to win the starting job, but expect competition to be added.

7:21pm EST 1/16/22

Steelers RB Najee Harris (elbow) is active for tonight's Wild Card game vs. the Chiefs. He put in a full practice on Friday and should be able to play his usual role in this one.

Steelers RB Najee Harris (elbow) has been removed from the injury report. It's confirmation that he'll play vs. the Chiefs on Sunday night after putting in a full practice on Friday.

Steelers RB Najee Harris (elbow) is listed as questionable for Sunday's Wild Card game vs. the Chiefs. He put in a full practice on Friday, so he seems likely to play. We'll keep you updated on Harris' status and get Pittsburgh's inactives around 7 pm ET on Sunday.

Steelers RB Najee Harris (elbow) missed practice again on Thursday. HC Mike Tomlin said the plan is for Harris to practice on Friday before the team decides whether he can play vs. the Chiefs on Sunday. Harris' absence would leave Benny Snell as Pittsburgh's likely lead back.

Steelers RB Najee Harris (elbow) did not practice on Wednesday. Harris eventually returned to last week's win over the Ravens after suffering this injury, so we're expecting him to be ready for Sunday's Wild Card game vs. the Chiefs. But Harris' status is worth monitoring over the next few days.

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