Even the Pittsburgh Steelers may not have truly known what they landed when they spent a second-round pick during the 2021 NFL Draft to acquire former Penn State Nittany Lions tight end Pat Freiermuth.
Freiermuth proved to be a revelation in his debut pro season that he ended with 60 receptions for 497 yards and a remarkable seven touchdowns. As noted by ESPN stats, only Pro Bowl wide receiver Diontae Johnson finished the 2021 campaign with more touchdown grabs among Pittsburgh players (eight) than Freiermuth.
Back in June, Freiermuth was named a “potential first-time Pro Bowler” for 2022 even though he no longer has future Hall of Famer Ben Roethlisberger serving as his full-time starting quarterback. Following Pittsburgh’s preseason opener against the Seattle Seahawks, veteran Mitchell Trubisky appears to still be the favorite to serve as Roethlisberger’s immediate successor over Mason Rudolph and rookie Kenny Pickett. That’s been the case since springtime workouts, and it’s just one reason Draft Sharks named Freiermuth among their “overvalued players” to avoid in fantasy football drafts on Tuesday.
“It starts with the volume projection,” Draft Sharks explained. “Freiermuth ranked 17th among TEs with 4.9 targets per game last season. That was with JuJu Smith-Schuster missing 12 games and parts of 2 others and the Steelers finishing 2nd in pass rate.
“Freiermuth figures to face tougher target competition this year with stud rookie George Pickens joining Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool. And we’re expecting the Steelers to throw significantly less with Ben Roethlisberger no longer essentially running the offense. Speaking of Roethlisberger, it’s tough to imagine Pittsburgh’s QB play being worse this season. But we’re also not expecting it to be significantly better. Mason Rudolph has reportedly been the Steelers’ best QB in training camp – which speaks volumes to how Mitchell Trubisky and rookie Kenny Pickett have fared.”
Without knowing, for sure, if Trubisky will first look to target an option such as Pickens in certain instances when Johnson and Claypool aren’t open, spending a valuable draft asset on Freiermuth may be a risk some fantasy-football players simply don’t want to take this summer.