Diontae Johnson 2022 Fantasy Football Profile

Diontae Johnson Fantasy Football

Wide receiver Diontae Johnson is coming off a 2021 season where he saw career-highs in all major statistical categories for the Pittsburgh Steelers. In other words, Johnson was a fantastic fantasy football option. However, with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger retiring, he will have either Mitch Trubisky, Mason Rudolph, or Kenny Pickett throwing him passes. Not to mention, Johnson sees more competition for targets with draft picks George Pickens and Calvin Austin joining the fold. And on top of all that, Johnson is in the middle of a contract dispute as he enters the final year of his rookie deal. With all of this piling up against him, Johnson’s production is very likely going to drop off in 2022 and he will likely not boast the same numbers that he consistently did last year.

2022 Fantasy Football Outlook: Diontae Johnson

2021 Recap

Career Year

Diontae Johnson, a third-year receiver out of Toledo, posted career-high numbers in 2021. Tallying 107 receptions and 1161 yards, Johnson also added eight touchdowns to his best season yet. Johnson also enjoyed 169 targets in 16 games played, which was 25 more than he got in either of his other seasons. This amount of targets tied for second in the NFL, behind only offensive player of the year Cooper Kupp. The Steelers limited offensive scheme, led by Roethlisberger, was the main reason for Johnson’s breakout year. But with a changing situation and new options at receiver, does Diontae Johnson’s fantasy football stock actually drop after the year he just had?

What Was Different?

The big difference from last year to this year is the Steelers’ quarterback situation. Roethlisberger did not have the capacity to continually make longer-range throws; hence, the short passing game was utilized for most of the season. This in turn led to Johnson having tons of catches and tons of yards, but he still lacked in the yards-per-catch and air yards category. Now, he’ll have to face changing schemes as he looks for longer passes, but an obvious decline in targets and receptions.

2022 Outlook

Current Situation

Johnson is currently electing to not participate much in the Steelers’ pre-season sessions. However, he is still present and participating a little. This is all because of his contract issues; Johnson’s rookie deal is up after the season, and he’s looking for an expensive extension. This shouldn’t affect much of his season, and he’ll likely still play most of or all of the season, but it’s something to keep an eye on. Plus, rookies Pickens and Austin are making some great plays and are boosting their cases to be higher up on the depth chart; don’t be surprised if Johnson doesn’t finish as the top receiver (stat-wise) for the Steelers in 2022.

Stat Projection

Johnson will likely have fewer total points in fantasy this year, and it will be directly related to target share. With multiple competitive options at the wideout position now, he simply may not get as much attention. One would expect Johnson to receive anywhere from 100-130 targets and only haul in 90-100 for receptions. It’s not a huge drop, but it’s fantasy points that he’s losing. But, his red zone ability to make nice catches, paired with his speed and acceleration, could definitely open up the playbook in key moments.

Average Draft Position

Diontae Johnson finished as the WR8 in PPR fantasy football leagues in 2021. Unfortunately, with the odds stacked against him, Johnson has slid to, on average, the projected WR15. This puts him as a low wide receiver two in most lineups with a chance to be higher up; but, he’s likely going to have several down weeks and he may not be a smart start in some matchups. He is being taken right around 40th overall in most drafts, which means he should be gone by the fourth or fifth rounds in most ten-man leagues.

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