Mitch Trubisky Expected to be Steelers’ Starting QB: Fantasy Football Impact (2022)
When the Steelers selected Kenny Pickett in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, the expectation was that he would have a good chance to start the season under center. However, it appears the early favorite to do so is veteran and free-agent signee Mitch Trubisky. With the recent news involving the Steelers’ quarterbacks, let’s check in on the 2022 fantasy football outlook and impact.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mitchell Trubisky seems poised to win the starting job ahead of Week 1, per Mark Kaboly of The Athletic. (Source: The Athletic)
Fantasy Impact: As Kaboly writes, “Unless Trubisky gets hurt or plays terribly in camp and the preseason, it’s difficult to imagine a scenario where he doesn’t start the season as the No. 1. How long he stays there will depend on how he plays.” Although Kenny Pickett is waiting in the wings and certainly represents Pittsburgh’s future, the team seems to be in no rush to deploy him. Pickett will open the year as Trubisky’s backup and only see reps if the former Bear and Bill struggles or gets hurt.
Steelers 2022 Fantasy Football Outlook
Mitchell Trubisky isn’t perfect, but he’s a helluva lot better in real life and in fantasy football than both Mason Rudolph and a rookie quarterback. 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. Kenny Pickett is currently the No. 3 quarterback on the depth chart based on mini camp reports.
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 to need 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 slated to start. It’s a small upgrade from Rudolph/Pickett for all pass-catchers involved because Trubisky has shown the ability to support fantasy-viable weapons. Rookie QBs tend to not be so kind to bolstering fantasy production to their teammates.
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.
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 WR49 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
If Mitchell Trubisky wins the starting job in Pittsburgh, this is more of a reflection of the Steelers’ misstep in taking Kenny Pickett in the first round than a stamp of approval on Trubisky’s talent. Notwithstanding his preseason performances against backups with the Bills, Trubisky was one of the worst starting quarterbacks in the league over his final two seasons as a starter.
In 2019 and 2020, he was the QB24 and QB29 in fantasy points per game. Everyone loves to trash Matt Nagy for Trubisky’s wretched performances, but it isn’t all Nagy’s fault. In those two seasons in Chicago, Trubisky finished with the fifth and seventh-lowest PFF grades for quarterbacks with at least 200 dropbacks. He also logged the seventh and fourth-lowest adjusted completion rates among the same quarterback sample. If we follow the Sam Darnold / Adam Gase corollary, we can’t place the entire load of shame on bad play calling. Yes, Trubisky was the QB11 in fantasy points per game in 2018, but since then, he regressed to the point where it’s fair to wonder if he can even perform as a league-average starter.
This leads us back to Kenny Pickett. While I wasn’t the biggest Pickett fan as a prospect, he should be able to beat out competition of this level if we’re to believe in his newly minted first-round pedigree. If this camp battle is even remotely close, Pickett should be the starter. These early rumors stink of veteran deference and smokescreen. A flimsy “rookies must earn their way” billboard.
– Derek Brown
2022 Consensus Best Ball Rankings
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