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Pittsburgh Steelers 2024 Projections: George Pickens Blastoff

2024 Pittsburgh Steelers Projections

Using historical data, target shares, coaching changes, and through consulting the stars the Pittsburgh Steelers 2024 season has been projected. The sky isn't the limit for most of the offense, as Arthur Smith as Chief Engineer is a match made in the North Korean space program. Even with this limiter on, Smith's history as an offensive coordinator in Tennessee can paint a rosier picture than his time in Atlanta. Let's dive into the numbers.


Major Additions and Losses

The change to the scheme cannot be understated. Matt Canada ran the least tenable system the NFL has seen in years. Pairing that with some of the worst quarterback play in the league, it was a nightmare for the fantasy assets. Now the Steelers bring in Arthur Smith to simplify the run game and establish it with aggression.




There were tackles drop stepping, tight ends tripping over feet trying to pull, the system was complex but also not deceptive. It was the opposite of what Hannah Montana would want, the Worst of Both Worlds.


Big losses to the offense include Diontae Johnson, who quietly has the 8th most targets in the league since being drafted, Kenny Pickett and Mason Rudolph (if we count them as losses) and the offensive line has a facelift. They've added Roman Wilson in the draft, Cordarrelle Patterson and Van Jefferson to bother fans, and regardless of how you feel about them, Russell Wilson and Justin Fields are tremendous upgrades at the helm.


Pittsburgh Steelers Quarterback Projections 2024

This offense looks completely different depending on which QB is in charge. Russell Wilson has years of history of never looking to his tight end, while Justin Fields had a love affair with Cole Kmet. Each is penciled in for 8.5 games, whether due to injury, wanting to mix it up or an outright benching. The team is projected to pass 508 times (only up two from 2023) but is likely to run more total plays as the offense is marginally better.


Wilson's 2024 stat line is projected to look something like 278 attempts with 180 completions and 1996 passing yards. He's not the spring chicken he once was, and will rush about 38 times for 172 yards while fumbling four times and throwing five interceptions. Most of these are right in line with his career averages, and extremely similar on a per-game basis to what he did in Denver last year.


Fields on the other hand will attempt 230 passes for 138 completions and 1610 yards. While he's playing, pass catchers will experience lower floors but his 71 rushing attempts for 400 yards will keep the offense mostly on schedule. If he stays at his career marks, that also adds seven interceptions, six fumbles, and a rollercoaster of a football season.



This clip shows two things. First, it shows what has been his biggest problem. Justin Fields is a supreme athlete who hasn't been developed by the staff he's with. His footwork is lazy, and timing throws won't come easy until he gets some consistency there. But second, it shows his ability to pull the safety to the center of the field with his eyes then hit his receiver in the end zone. The second part is something Pittsburgh fans haven't seen since Roethlisberger retired, so if he can learn a thing or two from Russ in the first half of the season these projections might be too light.


Receiving Projections

Fantasy fans looking for an option in the passing game not named George Pickens need to look away. Penciling in Pickens for a 26% target share, he's going to lead the room with a bullet. Considering the rest of the room and his talent, 1369 yards, 132 targets, and 81 receptions make a ton of sense. Roman Wilson is next up with a 15% target share, but it will only result in 494 yards. Van Jefferson and all wide receivers not named Pickens or Wilson will account for 15.2%.


Pat Freiermuth and the tight ends will be safety nets, but are unlikely to post high yardage totals and we're hoping for TD shares rather than targets, and will account for 115 total targets between them. 721 yards will need to be divided up between Muth, Washington and Heyward, but I'm sure Arthur Smith will do it in the most fun way possible. Harris and Warren will continue to sabotage each other, with Warren getting 65 targets at an 80% catch rate to Najee's 40 targets at 75%. The other RBs on the roster shouldn't see more than a handful of targets unless there's a serious injury (Patterson season?).



The first half of this shows what Pickens is best at, deep moon balls down the sideline. The second half, well, that's why this is Pickens year. What Russ and Fields do best is play action deep balls, moving in the pocket and launching it, and other spots to just give their receivers a chance. There's not another receiver on this roster worth looking at in the scramble drill, so a 26% target share might even be too low considering how many targets are on the table now that Diontae is gone. If there's a piece to have of this offense, it's George Pickens.


Rushing Projections

This is Arthur Smith's bread and butter. Establish it. Dominate the line of scrimmage. Insert whatever cliché you want, but this team is going to run it all day long. Between Justin Fields extending plays, Russell Wilson scooting, and Arthur Smith's dream system, they're penciled in for 552 rushing attempts. This would have led the league in 2023, but combining Justin Fields scrambles and Arthur Smith's history it makes a ton of sense.


Najee Harris will carry the majority of the work, with 269 carries for 1175 yards. This may seem like a staggering amount, but Harris has multiple seasons over 270 carries and the team has no reason to preserve the tread on the tires with him on the last year of his deal. Warren will still be a thorn in his side, getting 165 carries for 825. Fields is likely to scramble just about 9 times a game for 400 yards, while Russ will rush at about half that clip for 172.


Receivers and extra RBs will get the rest of the attempts, but won't get any serious fantasy value from it. The reason for optimism in this offense is the difference in scheme, and the serious upgrade across the offensive line. The Steelers added maulers throughout the draft, and Darnell Washington could play tackle if he really wanted to.



No nonsense. Get big people on big people and get your RB one on one with the safety. Matt Canada had tackles pass setting on run blocks to be cute. None of that here.



It wasn't just Derrick Henry either. D'Onta Foreman was extremely productive when Henry was hurt in 2021, and the blocking scheme just made sense for the offense. Add in a slight bump in talent along the offensive line and just enough of a threat from the quarterbacks to keep the box lighter, this team is going to ride the run game all season.

Pittsburgh Steelers 2024 Projections - Summary and Final Numbers

Each of the quarterbacks will be viable QB2s while starting, but job security makes them a tough investment in dynasty settings. Gun to my head, this is Justin Fields job in 2025, but that's a risky bet to make. If Pickens gets the TDs expected with his yardage, he's due for a top 12 season and is the easiest bet at ADP in the league right now. Pat Freiermuth is a streaming option with upside, while each of the running backs are in RB2 territory. Harris is the better option in half-PPR and standard, while Warren has PPR floor written all over him.


Invest heavily in Pickens, but avoid the rest of the offense unless playing matchups and trying to understand who Arthur Smith will give the ball to excites you.


Steelers

Russell Wilson

Justin Fields

George Pickens

Roman Wilson

Van Jefferson

Other WRs

Pat Freiermuth

Other TEs

Najee Harris

Jaylen Warren

Other RBs

Passing Yards

1996

1610










Passing TDs

14

10

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Rushing Yards

172

400

20






1175

825

20

Rushing TDs

1

4

0

0

0

0

0

0

12

8

0

Receiving Yards

0

80

1369

494

286

179

576

145

180

359

18

Receiving TDs

0

0

8

4

2

1

4

0

2

3

0

Fumbles

4

6

3

1


2



2

3


Interceptions

5

7










Rushing Attempts

38

71

3






269

165

6

Passing Plays/Rts

278

230

132

76

41

37

85

30

40

65

3

Completions

180

138

81

43

22

19

54

15

30

52

2


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