The Pittsburgh Steelers finished last season with a 9-8 record but just missed out on the playoffs. It was a weird season in which Pittsburgh entrusted quarterback duties to Mitchell Trubisky before rookie Kenny Pickett took over in Week 5. WR Diontae Johnson had an infamous season, but hopefully, another offseason will have him taking yet another step forward in the offense.
2023 Fantasy Football: Diontae Johnson Profile
Recap of 2022 season
Johnson played in all 17 games as the Steelers’ WR1 last year. While he finished with 86 receptions for 882 yards, his stat line had a glaring problem. Johnson didn’t come down with a single touchdown last season. He had a career-high eight the year before and regressed with the retirement of QB Ben Roethlisberger. Johnson is expected to be a prime bounce-back candidate.
Updated Steelers outlook
The AFC North is expected to be a battle, and the Steelers aren’t projected to come out victorious. They have the worst odds to win the division at DraftKings Sportsbook, installed at +425. The Cincinnati Bengals (+150), Baltimore Ravens (+220) and Cleveland Browns (+380) lead the way, but the Steelers could surprise some people. If they can get offensive coordinator Matt Canada to switch things up occasionally, Pickett, Johnson and RB Najee Harris could help lead the offense back to the playoffs.
Best case scenario
The best-case scenario for Johnson is that he is able to maintain his target share and have positive regression in the end zone. Prior to 2022, he was coming off seasons of eight and seven scores, respectively. Johnson finished as the WR39 last year in half-PPR scoring but the WR9 the year before. His best-case scenario has to be back as a low-end WR1, high-end WR2 in fantasy.
Worst case scenario
The worst-case scenario for Johnson is that last season wasn’t a fluke, and between Harris, Pickett and Pat Freiermuth, there just aren’t enough red-zone looks to go around. Add in veteran wide receiver Allen Robinson, who should command a few targets, as well as backup tight end Darnell Washington, and it isn’t crazy to think that Johnson could see his fewest targets since his rookie season in 2019 with 92. If that were the case and Pickens shines among the wideouts, Johnson could again be back in the WR38-WR40 range like last season.
Johnson should bounce back. It would be calming if he were to catch a touchdown in the team’s first game against San Francisco. Even if that doesn’t happen, he should be in for another good season and with others scared about his numbers from last year, could be a sneaky choice in your drafts.