2024 Fantasy Football Draft Prep: Pittsburgh Steelers player outlooks, schedule, depth chart and more to know

2024 fantasy football draft prep: pittsburgh steelers player outlooks, schedule, depth chart and more to know

2024 Fantasy Football Draft Prep: Pittsburgh Steelers player outlooks, schedule, depth chart and more to know

In his 17 seasons as the Steelers head coach, Mike Tomlin has never recorded a losing season. He's also missed the playoffs just six times during his tenure, making it last season with a 10-7 record despite spotty quarterback play. Given the fact that the AFC North is one of the tougher divisions in the NFL, the Steelers will need drastically improved quarterback play if they wish to keep pace with their rivals.

Below the CBS Sports Fantasy staff will take a look into the Steelers' entire team outlook including changes to the top of the depth chart that matter for Fantasy, a burning question for Fantasy Football managers that needs to be answered, a review of their draft class, strength of schedule, and individual player outlooks for all of the notable Steelers players who may end up on your Fantasy rosters.

Steelers 2024 lineup changes

1/1/2024 Week 1 2024 (proj)
QB Kenny Pickett Russell Wilson
RB Najee Harris Najee Harris
WR George Pickens George Pickens
WR Diontae Johnson Van Jefferson
WR Allen Robinson Roman Wilson
TE Pat Freiermuth Pat Freiermuth

Burning question: Will Russell Wilson or Justin Fields become QB1?

The Steelers made significant changes to their quarterback room by signing Wilson and acquiring Justin Fields. Both quarterbacks have the potential to boost the team's performance in the competitive AFC North, but it's unclear who will start in Week 1. Wilson recorded 3,070 yards and 26 touchdowns last season, showing a rediscovered ability for off-schedule plays. Fields, known for extending plays with his legs, rushed for 657 yards and four touchdowns despite missing four games, ranking second among NFL quarterbacks in rushing. Despite a lackluster Bears receiving corps in 2023, Fields managed to tie for the league lead in passing touchdowns with Kirk Cousins through Week 5 before a dislocated right thumb sidelined him. With talent spread across the field in Pittsburgh, Fields could have his most successful season yet if chosen as the starting QB, though early indications are that it's Wilson's job to lose.

2024 NFL Draft class

Rnd Pick Player Pos College
1 20 Troy Fautanu OL Washington
2 51 Zach Frazier OL West Virginia
3 84 Roman Wilson WR Michigan
3 98 Payton Wilson LB North Carolina St.
4 119 Mason McCormick OL South Dakota St.
6 178 Logan Lee DL Iowa
6 195 Ryan Watts S Texas

Steelers 2024 schedule

WK DATE OPP TIME TV VENUE
1 Sep 8, 2024 @Atlanta 1:00 pm FOX Mercedes-Benz Stadium
2 Sep 15, 2024 @Denver 4:25 pm CBS Empower Field at Mile High
3 Sep 22, 2024 vsL.A. Chargers 1:00 pm CBS Acrisure Stadium
4 Sep 29, 2024 @Indianapolis 1:00 pm CBS Lucas Oil Stadium
5 Oct 6, 2024 vsDallas 8:20 pm NBC Acrisure Stadium
6 Oct 13, 2024 @Las Vegas 4:05 pm CBS Allegiant Stadium
7 Oct 20, 2024 vsN.Y. Jets 8:20 pm NBC Acrisure Stadium
8 Oct 28, 2024 vsN.Y. Giants 8:15 pm ESPN Acrisure Stadium
9 BYE
10 Nov 10, 2024 @Washington 1:00 pm CBS FedEx Field
11 Nov 17, 2024 vsBaltimore 1:00 pm CBS Acrisure Stadium
12 Nov 21, 2024 @Cleveland 8:15 pm AMZN Cleveland Browns Stadium
13 Dec 1, 2024 @Cincinnati 1:00 pm CBS Paycor Stadium
14 Dec 8, 2024 vsCleveland 1:00 pm CBS Acrisure Stadium
15 Dec 15, 2024 @Philadelphia 4:25 pm FOX Lincoln Financial Field
16 Dec 21, 2024 @Baltimore 4:30 pm FOX M&T Bank Stadium
17 Dec 25, 2024 vsKansas City 1:00 pm NFLX Acrisure Stadium
18 Jan 5, 2025 vsCincinnati TBA Acrisure Stadium

Steelers 2024 player outlooks

By Jamey Eisenberg and CBS Fantasy staff

QB Russell Wilson

Wilson must first beat out Justin Fields for the Steelers starting quarterback job this preseason before having any relevance in Fantasy. The one-time stud has failed to average even 21 Fantasy points per game in each of his past three seasons with a total of 13 outings of 24-plus points in that span. And while he was quite efficient in 2023 with a 66.4% completion rate and a touchdown throw every 17.2 attempts, the Steelers figure to remain run-leaning under new playcaller Arthur Smith, who ranked in the bottom eight in pass attempts per game in each of his past two seasons in Atlanta and four of his five seasons as an offensive coordinator. Wilson's a longshot to ever again put up the numbers he once did, and his playing time is far from guaranteed. That's why Wilson should be avoided in one-QB leagues and isn't even a priority in two-QB formats.

QB Justin Fields

Fields went from the starter for the Bears to the backup for the Steelers to open the season. Fields is not worth drafting in the majority of one-quarterback leagues, but he could emerge as a waiver-wire option during the year. Fields is expected to begin the season behind Russell Wilson in Pittsburgh, but there's a possibility of Fields eventually starting ahead of Wilson if he struggles. It's not a bad idea to take a late-round flier on Fields in Superflex and two-quarterback leagues just in case he takes over for the Steelers. In Chicago, Fields was a quality Fantasy quarterback, and he scored at least 23.2 Fantasy points in six of the 12 games he finished in 2023. He has league-winning upside with his rushing prowess, and we'd love to see him play a significant amount of games in Pittsburgh this year. However, until he starts Fields will likely remain on the waiver wire in most one-quarterback leagues.

RB Najee Harris

Harris enters this season playing for a new contract, and we'll see if that motivation helps him perform at a high level this year. We view Harris as a low-end No. 2 running back in the majority of leagues, and he's worth drafting as early as Round 5. There are several reasons to like Harris this season. He dropped weight this offseason and is around 235 pounds, which is a plus. New offensive coordinator Arthur Smith should help the run game, and Harris remains the best option to carry the ball in Pittsburgh's offense. And the quarterback play for the Steelers should be better with the addition of Russell Wilson and Justin Fields. But Harris also has to contend with Jaylen Warren, who is among the best backup running backs in the NFL. That said, Harris has three seasons in a row with at least 255 carries, 1,034 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. His role in the passing game has decreased each season, which is a negative, but hopefully the Steelers lean heavily on Harris with his contract expiring. He's no longer a Fantasy star, but Harris should be serviceable as a low-end starter in all formats.

RB Jaylen Warren

Warren enters this season as one of the best backup running backs in the NFL, and he should be considered a high-end flex in the majority of leagues. Warren is worth drafting as early as Round 7 in all formats. He's coming off a solid campaign in 2023 with over 1,000 total yards and four total touchdowns, including 61 receptions on 74 targets. The offense in Pittsburgh should improve this season with the addition of offensive coordinator Arthur Smith and quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Justin Fields. But Warren still has to contend with Najee Harris, who should remain the workhorse for the Steelers when it comes to carrying the ball. Long-term, Warren could be the running back of the future in Pittsburgh since Harris is entering a contract year, and the Steelers appear willing to move on after this season. But in 2024, Harris should continue to lead Pittsburgh in carries, with Warren mixing in and getting plenty of work in the passing game. Warren's value is higher in PPR, but he can still be a high-end flex in all leagues this year.

RB Cordarrelle Patterson

Patterson joined the Steelers this offseason and the expectation is that he could quickly win the kick returner job -- a role that has more meaning given the NFL's change in kickoff rules. Patterson is unlikely to earn a Fantasy role worth rostering outside of leagues that heavily reward return yardage because he has both Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren ahead of him on the depth chart.

WR George Pickens

This should be a big season for Pickens, who is entering his third year in the NFL. He's worth drafting as early as Round 4 in all leagues. Pittsburgh traded Diontae Johnson to Carolina, and now Pickens gets a quarterback upgrade in Russell Wilson or Justin Fields. In four games last year when Johnson was hurt, Pickens had two outings with at least 22.7 PPR points. We expect Wilson to start the majority of games, and he threw 10 touchdowns to Courtland Sutton in 2023. And Wilson was good for DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett toward the end of his tenure in Seattle. Wilson should help make Pickens a solid No. 2 Fantasy receiver in all leagues with the chance to be a top-10 option. Now, you may be concerned that Arthur Smith is the new offensive coordinator for the Steelers, and Smith wasn't good for Drake London the past two seasons in Atlanta. But with Smith as the offensive coordinator in Tennessee in 2019-20, A.J. Brown caught 122 passes for 2,126 yards and 19 touchdowns on 190 targets in 30 games. Pickens should be the focal point of the passing game in Pittsburgh, and this should be a breakout campaign in 2024.

WR Roman Wilson

The Steelers selected Wilson in the third round of the NFL Draft from Michigan, and he could be the No. 2 receiver in Pittsburgh this season behind George Pickens. Wilson is worth a late-round pick in all redraft leagues, and he should be a second-round pick in rookie-only drafts for Dynasty leagues. The Steelers passing game should be improved this season with Russell Wilson or Justin Fields at quarterback, and Roman Wilson is walking into a big opportunity. Wilson should earn a starting role ahead of Van Jefferson, Calvin Austin III, Quez Watkins or Scotty Miller. And if Wilson doesn't start, he should be the third receiver. Pittsburgh has 136 targets to replace with Diontae Johnson and Allen Robinson gone, and Wilson was productive last season in Michigan's run-heavy offense with 48 catches, 789 yards and 12 touchdowns. Wilson should be a nice surprise for Fantasy managers with a late-round pick.

WR Van Jefferson

Jefferson signed with the Steelers this offseason after failing to earn a significant role in stops with the Rams and Falcons. With Diontae Johnson no longer on the roster, Jefferson will compete with a slew of wide receivers -- including third-round draft pick Roman Wilson -- for playing time alongside George Pickens. Jefferson may end up earning a significant snap share, but there are higher-upside final rounds dart throws that you should be using to fill out your final bench spots.

WR Calvin Austin

Austin will compete for a role in Pittsburgh's offense this season, but he has minimal Fantasy value in the majority of leagues and is not worth drafting in most formats. The Steelers lost a big piece on offense in Diontae Johnson, who leaves behind 87 targets. But Pittsburgh also added Van Jefferson, Quez Watkins and Scott Miller via free agency and used a third-round draft pick on Roman Wilson. Most likely, Austin will play behind George Pickens, Wilson and Jefferson, and it could be tough for Austin to earn targets. At best, you can add Austin off the waiver wire if he starts off the season playing at a high level.

TE Pat Freiermuth

Freiermuth should be considered a sleeper this season, and he's worth drafting with a late-round pick in all leagues. Freiermuth has the chance to be second on the Steelers in targets this season behind George Pickens, and Freiermuth should benefit from new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith and a quarterback upgrade in Russell Wilson or Justin Fields. Smith's offense in Atlanta where he was the head coach was extremely tight-end friendly. In 2023, the Falcons led the league in receiving yards by tight ends (1,380) and finished fifth in total receptions from the position (114). Freiermuth scored seven touchdowns as a rookie in 2021 and averaged 9.5 PPR points per game. He followed that up with 9.3 PPR points per game in 2022, but he dropped to 6.4 PPR points per game in 2023. He should prove to be a nice surprise in 2024, and Freiermuth is worth waiting for on Draft Day in all leagues.

TE Darnell Washington

Washington should be the No. 2 tight end for the Steelers this season behind Pat Freiermuth, but Washington is more of a blocker than a receiver. Washington is not worth drafting in the majority of leagues. In 2023 as a rookie, Washington caught just seven of 10 targets for 61 yards, but his role could expand under new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith. If Washington starts out the season playing well then add him off the waiver wire, but first let him prove himself early in the year.

K Chris Boswell

The Steelers offense should improve this season with new coordinator Arthur Smith and a quarterback upgrade in Russell Wilson or Justin Fields, and that should help Boswell. He could have the chance to be a starting Fantasy kicker in the majority of leagues. While we don't recommend drafting Boswell, he could be someone to add off waivers. He only averaged 7.8 Fantasy points per game in 2023, but he made 29 field goals and 27 PATs. There's a chance for those numbers to improve, and Boswell could prove to be a Fantasy asset as the year goes on.

Steelers DST

The Steelers defense should once again be one of the best in the NFL, and the Steelers DST is worth drafting with a late-round pick in all Fantasy leagues. Pittsburgh has plenty of stars on defense, including T.J. Watt, Cameron Heyward, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Joey Porter Jr., among others. And the addition of linebacker Patrick Queen this offseason should only enhance the Steelers defense this year. In 2023, Pittsburgh had 47 sacks, 16 interceptions and 11 fumble recoveries. The Steelers were also third in the NFL in fewest points allowed at 19.1. Fantasy managers should consider the Steelers DST a top-10 option in all formats with a late-round selection.

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