2023 Pittsburgh Steelers Team Preview

Jul 6th 2023

Hayden Winks

The Pittsburgh Steelers are in the growing pains stage of their rebuild, but they're at least in the second year of it when players begin to breakout. We can draft them all on Underdog Fantasy with promo code 'UNDERBLOG' to match your first deposit up to $100. We have the biggest fantasy football tournament of all time ($15M) right now.

2022 Pittsburgh Steelers Advanced Stats

The Steelers were lucky last year, finishing 15th in wins versus 24th in point differential. The good news is that this offense is young and likely improving. Kenny Pickett, George Pickens, Pat Freiermuth, Najee Harris, and Jaylen Warren are all on their rookie contracts. Natural growth can compound here, especially with two new OL starters replacing 4th-round starters at LT and LG. The real question is how much better can the offense get? OC Matt Canada catches some heat from NFL analysts, and rightfully so in my opinion. Watching their tape, the offense feels capped and redundant. Lots of short routes with a few deeper routes that are often near the sideline. Both are inefficient. Being 29th in play action rate, 29th in 4th-down aggressiveness, 25th in neutral pass rate, and 19th in neutral pace all cap this offense to league average,,, unless Pickett is much better than most expect.

2023 Pittsburgh Steelers Starting Lineups

3-WR Sets (10th in snaps, 70% of snaps)

  • WR: Diontae Johnson --> Miles Boykin

  • WR: George Pickens --> Hakeem Butler

  • SLOT: Allen Robinson --> Calvin Austin (R)

  • TE: Pat Freiermuth --> Zach Gentry

2-WR Sets (14th in snaps, 27% of snaps)

  • WR: Diontae Johnson --> Allen Robinson

  • WR: George Pickens --> Calvin Austin (R)

  • SLOT TE: Pat Freiermuth --> Rodney Williams

  • INLINE TE: Zach Gentry --> Darnell Washington (R)

RB Usage (19th in expected half PPR)

  • GOAL LINE: Najee Harris --> Jaylen Warren

  • PASSING DOWN: Jaylen Warren --> Najee Harris

Offensive Line (pretty bad still)

  • LT: Broderick Jones (1st round rookie)

  • LG: Isaac Seamalu ($7M new starter)

  • C: Mason Cole (mid returning starter)

  • RG: James Daniels (average returning starter)

  • RT: Chukwuma Okorafor (mid returning starter)

2023 Pittsburgh Steelers Fantasy Preview

Kenny Pickett was brutal to start his rookie campaign, and even when he did improve his own play, he wasn't a fantasy factor because of the play calling. That's a lot to overcome in year two, but Pickett undoubtably played better late. From Week 12 on, Pickett was 2nd in PFF grade, 2nd in big time throws, 1st in turnover rate, 9th in pressure to sack ratio, 11th in runs, and 9th in EPA per play. Some assume he's a Mac Jones or Kirk Cousins type, but Pickett is a gamer who likes to scramble and throw on the run. That gives him some avenues to an upside QB2 season after a dull rookie year. He's very due for positive regression on top of the usual year two leap we see from these young QBs in general.

Diontae Johnson was BRUTAL (statistically) last year. He scored 0 TDs on 6.7 expected TDs based on his usage, while also hitting a career low 6.0 yards per target. Yuck. The good news is both will dramatically improve most likely because he's simply better than that (even as a historical Diontae fader). Catching more than 9-of-34 deep targets is a near lock and massive for his fantasy appeal. Diontae was the WR19 in expected fantasy points if he can finally regress. I'm on team math here, so I'm buying heavily. ... To date, George Pickens is a DeVante Parker type, who unfortunately has been attached to sideline deep shots. He hasn't been an in-breaking route threat yet, leaving him with a boom-bust profile still. Even with these limitations, however, Pickens was the WR44 in fantasy points over replacement per game as a rookie in a bad offense. There's at least some mystery box upside going into his age-22 season. He has the size and downfield run of some historical breakout candidates, not to mention a 5-star collegiate pedigree. ... Allen Robinson is cooked, which is why he's going into the 33-year-old Larry Fitzgerald role in the slot. The Steelers were just 18th in expected fantasy points to their WRs last year, so a clear No. 3 target is unlikely to move the needle. Robinson's 0.9 yards per target from last season are that of a backup.

Pat Freiermuth could be a consensus top-5 receiving option in the very near future. Through two seasons, he's been the 171st and 159th overall player in half PPR fantasy in bad offenses. He desperately needs the offense to improve, as he only had 2 TDs on 4.3 expected TDs all of last year. His own underlying stats are better than that. Freiermuth was 8th in yards per route run and 7th in PFF receiving grade at the position, and he did so on the 9th most routes. It's probably smart to be on the TE7 in expected fantasy points when they were only 24 years old. His backups are pure blocking types.

Najee Harris needs to lose weight and stop dancing at the line of scrimmage. His tape was bad last year, and his efficiency backs it up. He was 43rd in yards after contact per carry (2.8) and was sandwiched between Zeke and Lenny in NextGenStats' rushing yards over expected (-0.3). Until he changes his rushing style or overall speed, Harris is a volume guy only. He was the RB15 in expected half PPR points on the sixth-most in expected TDs (11.1). Najee will need all the TDs to re-enter the RB1/2 border, as his receiving work is assuredly stuck in this 50 targets per year range. ... Jaylen Warren is a fun complement (video), who will take most of the passing down work from Harris. He can pass block and create yards after the catch, leading to a strong 80.0 PFF receiving grade. Warren plays with a low center of gravity and can force some miss tackles (3.1 yards after contact). For all of his fun, Warren was bad in short yardage and his style may be best in a lower volume role. He's a fun player who could win some weeks if Harris were to miss time. On the Steelers end, Warren's rookie year breakout should encourage them to drop Harris' weight so they can split the load.

2023 Pittsburgh Steelers Fantasy ADPs

For the best average draft positions, use Underdog Fantasy because we update them daily only using paid drafts.

  • RB12 Najee Harris (37.1 overall) --> Mixing in

  • WR33 Diontae Johnson (63.0) --> Buying

  • WR40 George Pickens (75.8) --> Buying

  • TE10 Pat Freiermuth (106.8) --> Buying

  • RB44 Jaylen Warren (134.9) --> Mixing in

  • QB23 Kenny Pickett (167.7) --> Mixing in

  • WR95 Allen Robinson (213.3) --> Fading