Mitchell Trubisky Signs With Steelers: Fantasy Football Takeaways & Implications (2022)
Unlike Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t seem to be walking back through the door in Pittsburgh. As a result, the Steelers needed a new quarterback. Enter Mitchell Trubisky. What is the outlook for the former first-round pick and his new teammates in Steel City? Derek Brown, Pat Fitzmaurice, and Andrew Erickson provide their takes.
And don’t miss the rest of our takeaways from all of the recent news:
- James Conner Contract Extension
- Chase Edmonds Signs with Dolphins
- Tom Brady’s Return
- Carson Wentz Trade
- Russell Wilson Trade
- Calvin Ridley Suspension
- Aaron Rodgers Contract Extension
- Mike Williams Contract Extension
- NFL Franchise Tag Reactions
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The Steelers have been rumored to be looking at quarterback upgrades from their previously penciled-in starter Mason Rudolph all offseason. Rumors of Mike Tomlin’s love for Malik Willis have been reverberating since the Senior Bowl, but it looks like Willis will be off the board before the Steelers are on the clock. With Mitch Trubisky under contract for two years, the Steelers will look to him as their short-term answer.
The last time we saw Trubisky (2020) under center, he was objectively terrible. Among 44 quarterbacks with 100 or more dropbacks, Trubisky ranked 36th (per PFF) in adjusted completion rate and 27th in big-time throw rate as the QB25 in fantasy points per game. Among the same sampling of quarterbacks, he also held the second-highest turnover worthy play rate (per PFF). Trubisky does offer more with his legs than Ben Roethlisberger ever could, but as a player that averaged 20.7 rushing yards per game or less in three of his four seasons as the Bears’ starter, even this feather in his cap isn’t pretty.
Roethlisberger was the QB27 in fantasy points per game last season, and Trubisky should be viewed in a similar range as a basement-level QB2. The Steelers were ninth in neutral passing rate, but Roethlisberger was first in time to throw with their offensive line issues. Trubisky was 25th (among 43 quarterbacks with 50 or more short passing attempts) in adjusted completion rate between 0-9 yards in 2020, so he could struggle even with a quick-hitting passing attack. If the Steelers’ passing rate moves to the middle of the pack and they bring back a run-first mentality, we should lower the ceilings for Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and Pat Freiermuth unless they compensate with touchdowns. Najee Harris is still a locked-in bell cow and top-five option at his position who could be leaned on even more heavily in 2022.
– Derek Brown
Mitchell Trubisky to the Pittsburgh Steelers. I’m not enthralled by the move, but Pittsburgh didn’t have many alternatives with Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins available on the roster.
Trubisky isn’t perfect, but he’s a helluva lot better in real life and in fantasy football than both Rudolph and Haskins. The ex-Chicago Bears quarterback finished as the fantasy QB11 in points per game back in 2018 after averaging 30 rushing yards per contest. He subsequently fell off two following seasons, but the skill set for fantasy goodness is there with Trubisky.
Rudolph has ten starts under his belt, and he’s never scored more than 18.7 fantasy points.
Simply put: Anticipate Trubisky to be the Week 1 starter. Therefore keep him on your radar as a QB2 in Superflex because of the value he can add – and likely will need to use behind that atrocious offensive line – with his mobility.
Trubisky also has solid weapons at his disposal with Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, Pat Freiermuth, and Najee Harris, furthering his fantasy appeal.
I’d argue that this set of weapons trumps even his best set of playmakers that he had in Chicago between Allen Robinson, Tarik Cohen, Taylor Gabriel, and David Montgomery.
The receivers are also drastically impacted by Trubisky’s addition. It’s a small upgrade from Rudolph for all pass-catchers involved because Trubisky has shown the ability to support fantasy-viable weapons.
Robinson was WR12 (27% target share) with Trubisky in 2019 after finishing as WR35 in points per game in 2018. Acknowledge that the No. 2 receiver in that offense was Cohen (18% target share) followed by Anthony Miller (15% target share) and Taylor Gabriel (8% target share).
There inline reveals the best-case scenario for the Steelers’ No. 1 wide receiver, Diontae Johnson. Seeing a boatload of targets – albeit inefficient like last season – to deliver for fantasy. But with a WR15 best ball ADP in an offense with more competition for targets, I would need Johnson to fall significantly in drafts before I select him.
Too often last season I was drafting WRs in the third and fourth round that projected to be target hogs with bad quarterbacks – Terry McLaurin, D.J. Moore – and those ended up being poor fantasy selections. Johnson looks like he is in that similar ilk which is why I am hesitant to get excited about drafting him at the current price.
There’s also the case that Chase Claypool could be Trubisky’s new favorite target. After all, he profiles more similarly to A-Rob than Johnson does. I’d much rather draft Claypool at WR41 where there’s less risk if the entire Steelers offense craters.
Because that in itself has to be factored in. Pittsburgh could be a total dumpster fire on offense in 2022, so don’t feel any need to overdraft anyone from this team.
Running back Najee Harris will likely be unaffected because of sheer volume, but I wouldn’t be shocked if his receiving numbers took a bit of a hit. Mobile quarterbacks – and ones with non-disintegrating arms – tend to check down less than their older statue-esque counterparts.
Traditional running backs like Jordan Howard and David Montgomery maxed out at 20-25 catches in their seasons with Trubisky. I don’t expect the number to be that low because Trubisky also targeted running back Tarik Cohen out of the slot a ton, but Harris catching 75-plus balls for a second straight season is probably unlikely.
– Andrew Erickson
Good move for the Steelers. Rather than turning to Mason Rudolph (woof) or taking their chances on one of the suspects from a bad rookie QB class, they signed a toolsy, experienced veteran at a reasonable price. Some might take issue with the “toolsy” description, but Trubisky wasn’t a complete train wreck during his run as the Bears’ starter. The Steelers need to address a dysfunctional offensive line and a porous run defense, so a limited commitment to a bridge quarterback makes sense. It’s possible Trubisky proves to be more than just a bridge, in which case this signing would be a grand slam. For now, view Trubisky as a high-end QB3, and perhaps we can consider moving him into low-end QB2 range of the Steelers make substantial O-line upgrades this offseason.
– Pat Fitzmaurice
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