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Who won Steelers WR battle between Smith-Schuster, Johnson and Claypool

Pittsburgh’s top three receivers all bring tremendous fantasy potential into the season.

Diontae Johnson #18 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs with the ball against Michael Jacquet #38 of the Philadelphia Eagles in the first quarter of the preseason game at Lincoln Financial Field on August 12, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver picture is jumbled. But it’s a good thing for the team. They have a troika of talented players in JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool. If you’re trying to figure out how those three stack up for fantasy football production, the 2020 season and the preseason this year offer a helpful guide.

Johnson led the group in overall production through the exhibition season. Targeted six times, he caught all of them for a total of 103 yards in three games. Claypool caught four passes on six targets for 80 yards in three games, and JuJu hauled in eight of nine passes for 61 yards in two games played.

Smith-Schuster led the team in receptions last year with 97 and tied for the team lead with nine touchdowns. Working out of the slot, he was largely serving as Ben Roethlisberger’s security blanket. Johnson led the group with 923 receiving yards, but he had the most targets of them all with 144 and added another seven touchdowns. Claypool had nine touchdowns and 873 yards.


Though all three should be productive this season, Johnson’s the top guy here. He’s got the most upside by far. Dogged by drops last season, he seemed to have that issue ironed out in camp and preseason play. His ceiling might even be a little underrated if Roethlisberger’s arm is a little healthier this season.

Claypool’s upside is real—remember, he was working in a part-time role last year in a hamstrung offense. His big play ability makes him a valuable asset. Smith-Schuster was supposedly going to be working outside more this season, but that’s not been the case so far. He’ll still put up solid numbers as the quarterback’s security blanket.

Fantasy football implications

All three of these players are worth drafting. Johnson’s been picked everywhere from the third to the fifth rounds in fantasy drafts so far, which means he’s maybe a little undervalued. He’s got WR1 potential. Claypool’s breakout as a rookie bodes well for his sophomore campaign. All three guys should see plenty of work in Pittsburgh’s offense.