Benny Snell, Kalen Ballage and Anthony McFarland will compete for the backup role behind Najee Harris in Pittsburgh. Whoever wins the job can be considered a handcuff pick in the double-digit rounds. We view Snell as the favorite, but don't rule out McFarland taking a big step in his second year.
Snell isn't assured a spot on the Steelers' roster to begin the 2021 season, Brooke Pryor of ESPN.com reports. Snell had the chance to secure the starting job at running back last year while James Conner was sidelined, but the 23-year-old averaged just 3.3 yards per carry during the 2020 campaign. The 2019 fourth-rounder enters training camp as a clear backup after the Steelers drafted Najee Harris with the 24th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, but he could be in danger of losing his roster spot if newcomer Kalen Ballage is able to carve out a role in the team's offense. Also battling for backfield slotting will be Anthony McFarland and Jaylen Samuels.
Snell will likely begin the season as a backup after the Steelers selected Najee Harris with the 24th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Mark Kaboly of The Athletic reports. Snell rushed 111 times for 368 yards and four touchdowns last season while working behind James Conner, and it appears as though he'll serve as a secondary option in 2021, even after Conner signed with the Cardinals. The Steelers decided to improve their running game by taking the first running back off the board in the first round of the draft, and coach Mike Tomlin described Harris as a "three-down back" after the team selected the Alabama standout. Snell should compete for touches with Anthony McFarland and Kalen Ballage behind Harris in 2021.
Snell rushed three times for 10 yards in Sunday's 24-22 loss to the Browns. Coach Mike Tomlin said several weeks ago that he hoped to get Snell more involved in the team's offensive attack, but he's failed to make much of an impact over the past two games. The 2019 fourth-rounder showed some glimpses of promise during his second season in the league, rushing 111 times for 368 yards and four touchdowns while bringing in 10 of his 14 targets for 61 yards. He could have a chance to serve as the lead back for the Steelers next year if James Conner doesn't return to Pittsburgh, but Snell will continue to slot in behind Conner during the team's current playoff run.
Snell rushed six times for zero yards in Sunday's 28-24 win over the Colts. Coach Mike Tomlin said during the week that Snell likely would see an increased role for the Steelers going forward, and the 2019 fourth-rounder led the team with six carries against Indianapolis. However, Snell was unable to record any yardage after topping 100 yards from scrimmage Week 15. He also received two carries inside the 5-yard line, but he couldn't reach the end zone. He'll attempt to produce more against the Browns in the regular-season finale.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin hinted Tuesday that Snell may continue to have a sizable role in the team's offensive game plan Week 16 against the Colts, even if James Conner (quadriceps) is available for the contest, Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL Network reports. "You gotta admit Benny was an awesome element in a game that didn't have many," Tomlin said, in reference to Monday's 27-17 loss to the Bengals. "[Snell will] have the opportunity to be impactful [Week 16]." While Conner was inactive Monday, Snell stepped in as Pittsburgh's lead back and was one of the few bright spots in the disappointing loss, rushing 18 times for 84 yards and a score and catching three of four targets for 23 yards. Though Tomlin is hoping Conner will be back Week 16, the 25-year-old had struggled over his last five outings prior to Monday's absence, averaging 3.5 yards per carry and 3.3 yards per target while finding the end zone only once. Conner's shaky health and poor production of late coupled with Snell's strong outing Monday may result in a timeshare being in place Week 16, an arrangement that would make it difficult to extract fantasy value from either back.
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|2||09/19||Las Vegas Raiders||29||22.38|
|4||10/03||@Green Bay Packers||27||20.33|
|11||11/21||@Los Angeles Chargers||14||16.75|
|16||12/26||@Kansas City Chiefs||25||19.32|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||110||397||3||6||42||0||59|