A Lisfranc foot injury harpooned the first half of Harris' 2022 season, but a lack of explosiveness over his two-year career keeps his Fantasy value bottled up. It might be a little unfair to hold his first eight games of 2022 against him when he averaged 10.9 PPR points per game, averaged 16.9 touches per game and scored three times while playing hurt. The final nine outings of 2022 were more representative of what he's capable of, averaging 20.1 touches per game and scoring seven total touchdowns with improved (but not great) efficiency. That second half was close to what Harris was as a rookie, save for lower catch numbers (16.7 PPR points per game). But that simply reinforces that Harris is a volume-driven, touchdown-needy running back who has 10 career plays of 20-plus yards over 694 touches. That's sad. Without much competition for playing time, Harris is a very easy fade within the first 30 picks on Draft Day but is tougher to resist as startable RBs fly off the board. If you get him in Round 4, you're doing just fine.
Harris entered last season with a foot injury and struggled to produce in a slogging Steelers offense during the first half of 2022.
But a post-bye week shift toward a run-heavy approach gave way for Harris and the team as a whole to be more effective.
If the investments the Steelers made into upgrading the offensive line take hold, and OC Matt Canada sticks with pounding the rock in 2023, Harris should be an excellent high-end RB2 with room for RB1 upside.
What We Learned Last YearComing off a productive rookie campaign in 2021, Harris sustained a Lisfranc injury during training camp that lingered into the 2022 regular season. Harris’ sophomore effort can be characterized as a tale of two seasons. Before the Steelers’ bye week, he only mustered three weekly finishes as a RB2 or better. From Week 10 on, however, he had six weekly top-24 fantasy finishes in nine games.Here’s how Harris’ season splits pre and post-bye week:Week 1 - Week 8: RB22 overall in PPR scoring (11.2 PPG)Week 10 - Week 18: RB7 overall in PPR scoring (15.2 PPG)Much of this success was due to a shift in the team’s offensive philosophy put forth by OC Matt Canada. The Steelers reverted to a run-heavy approach at the midway point of the season, and the results speak for themselves:Week 1 - Week 8: 7th in pass rate, 28th in total yards per game, 28th in play success rate, 31st in drive success rateWeek 10 - Week 18: 27th in pass rate, 15th in total yards per game, 5th in play success rate, 3rd in drive success rateHarris blew up down the stretch and finished the season eighth in Pro Football Focus rushing grade, seventh in PFF receiving grade, third in rushing yards (677), seventh in PFF Elusive Rating (63.4), and fifth in yards after contact (459) among all RBs (min. 100 attempts) from Week 10 on.But if there’s one area of concern for Harris, it’s in the receiving department. He took a massive step backward as a pass-catcher in his second NFL season:2021: 13.3% target share, 94 targets, 74 receptions, 467 receiving yards2022: 9.7% target share, 53 targets, 41 receptions, 221 receiving yards
What to Expect in 2023Assuming better health, Harris should once again be a strong contributor for fantasy managers. It’s unlikely that Harris will see as big of a receiving workload as he did as a rookie, but he still figures to be the workhorse in the ground game in 2023.Upgrades on the offensive line will make his life easier. too. The Steelers finished 2022 ranked 16th in Pro Football Focus run-blocking grade and made significant investments to improve, adding 1st-round OT Broderick Jones and free-agent G Issac Seumalo.However, former UDFA RB Jaylen Warren is a wild card here. Warren seized the RB2 role in the Steelers’ offense out of training camp last year and was very effective in spurts. It’ll be essential for Harris’ success that Warren doesn’t earn a bigger piece of the RB touches.Should everything go Harris’ way, we’re looking at a reliable high-end RB2 for your fantasy lineup.
Harris leads the NFL with 694 touches since entering the league. The 2022 first-round pick has yet to miss a game and while he's ranked top five among RBs in carries both seasons, he did see a big drop-off in production from 2021 to 2022. Harris experienced a big dip in touches (381 to 313), yardage (1,667 to 1,263) and fantasy PPG (17.7 to 13.1) primarily due to a substantially decreased receiving role (from 94 targets to 54). On the plus side, Harris has scored 10 TDs in both pro seasons and he finished 2022 strong with five consecutive top-20 fantasy outings. The 25-year-old's role adjustment makes him more of a fringe RB1 than an elite fantasy back, but improvements along the line and at QB (Kenny Pickett's second season) are reasons for optimism.