UPDATE #2: Smith-Schuster is expected to play, according to ESPN’s Dianna Russini. This is helpful game-day confirmation as 1:00 p.m. kickoffs approach. If you were planning on starting him, you can do so with a little less concern.
UPDATE: A Steelers beat writer thinks JuJu Smith-Schuster will play in Week 10 in spite of the questionable tag. It’s not a great matchup for any of the Steelers receivers.
The Mason Rudolph experiment has been mostly uninspiring, as he hasn’t passed for over 251 yards and has been under 200 in three games. He does have a 10 to 4 touchdown to interception rate, which has kept the Steelers from tanking, but opportunities for his receivers aren’t many and often aren’t productive.
JuJu Smith Schuster has seen his target numbers fluctuate from 4, 7, 4, 9, 5 over his last five games while Diontae Johnson’s have gone 6, 8, 2, 7, 2 over his. Those aren’t the targets you want to see for consistent fantasy production.
Johnson has buoyed his fantasy stats with three touchdown receptions in his last six games but has also had two complete duds in two of his previous three. And Smith-Schuster is in a remarkably similar boat. Plus, he is dealing with an unexpected foot injury that has him questionable for Week 10.
Fantasy football analysis: Pittsburgh Steeler WRs JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson
In Week 10, they’ll host the L.A. Rams, who are coming off a bye and who recently traded for Jalen Ramsey. L.A. ranks eleventh-best in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers in 15th in DVOA against the pass. Pittsburgh will likely have trouble running against their No. 2 DVOA ranked run defense, so passing will probably be needed to move the ball.
Many of Rudolph’s targets should again go underneath to Jaylen Samuels, but he also will use Smith-Schuster out of the slot, where the Rams have been weakest, and Ramsey will likely not move.
Unfortunately for Johnson, he will see more of Ramsey in coverage than he or his fantasy backers would like. Johnson will need to slip away for a touchdown to have any value this week in fantasy.
Traditional Fantasy Start/Sit Recommendation
Start Smith-Schuster as a WR3 if he is active
Sit Diontae Johnson.
DraftKings DFS Recommendation
Smith-Schuster comes in at $5,800 and Johnson at $4,300. I would be higher on Smith-Schuster as a play this week if his price were closer to $5,000, but as it is, I’m going to fade both.