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Diontae Johnson Dynasty Outlook: Fantasy Football 2024

After back-to-back down seasons in a lackluster Steelers offense, what will a trade to the Panthers do for Diontae Johnson's dynasty outlook?

Can a trade to the Carolina Panthers revamp Diontae Johnson dynasty outlook? One of the most frustrating careers to watch for fantasy managers over the last four years has to be Diontae Johnson.

Three straight seasons with 140-plus targets. Over 1100 air yards in four straight seasons paired with over 600 unrealized air yards. Ranking top-25 in unrealized air yards in four straight seasons. Not to mention a 147-target season with zero touchdowns!

Diontae Johnson Dynasty Outlook

The History

The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Diontae Johnson in the third round of the 2019 draft with pick 66 overall. He stepped into some big shoes after one of the best wide receiver tandem seasons in NFL history between Antonio Brown and Juju Smith-Schuster. Brown had his unceremonious falling out and exit from the Steelers and Juju was preparing to take on a bigger role in 2019. The Steelers still needed to fill the void left by Brown and Johnson was their pick.

He came into the league seen as a versatile, athletic, and quick-receiving weapon who lacked size. Many draft experts didn’t have Johnson becoming a team’s target-hog, lead wide receiver. However, after Juju underwhelmed in 2019 and Johnson showed some promise on 92 targets, he would explode in 2020.

After his rookie season, Johnson never looked back as he became the focal point of the Steelers offense. This sadly all came at the time of Ben Roethlisberger’s decline, the insertion of Matt Canada as offensive coordinator, and Kenny Pickett being drafted and taking over the offense. Any Steelers fan can tell you this was a disastrous trio of events.

Outside of his injury-shortened 2023 season, Johnson had 140 targets in three straight seasons. In 2020, he finished as the WR22 in points per game on 88 receptions for 923 yards and seven touchdowns. In 2021, he further exploded to a WR8 finish thanks to his first 100 reception season, 107. Plus 1161 yards and eight touchdowns. Then came back-to-back WR39 seasons as the Kenny Pickett era began for the Steelers and their passing offense took a huge step back.

The Situation

Shortly after the 2024 league year opened, the 27-year-old Diontae Johnson was dealt to the Carolina Panthers. Johnson’s decline over the last two seasons, whether in part due to the troubled offense and quarterback or not, led to a seemingly mutual parting of ways. Johnson goes from the 25th-ranked passing offense in 2023, into the 32nd-ranked passing offense.

However, Johnson gets to go from falling to No.2 in the low-octane Pittsburgh offense to becoming the clear-cut No.1 in a hopefully ascending Panthers offense behind Bryce Young. The Panthers may have finished 32nd in passing offense, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. They ranked 13th in pass attempts and Young 12th among quarterbacks in air yards.

The Panthers offense was very uninspiring all around in 2023. A bad offensive line, allowing the fifth most pressures among offensive lines. A poor supporting cast featuring category leaders who would be second, third, and maybe even lower options on most teams. Like rushing leader Chuba Hubbard and receiving leader Adam Thielen, the only receiver to eclipse 550 yards on the team. Young is also not void of blame as he ranked 11th among quarterbacks in interceptable passes. Plus, a catchable target rate of 81.3%, which ranked 41st among 49 eligible quarterbacks with 100 or more pass attempts.

Expectations are high for fresh, young offensive mind Dave Canales, who revived Baker Mayfield in Tampa. The hope is he can build an offense to get Bryce Young headed in the right direction. Plus, adding a younger, established wide receiver capable of turning big target numbers into solid overall production numbers will support Young and likely reinvigorate Johnson’s fantasy value and output.

Current Price

Per KeepTradeCut, Diontae Johnson has been rising up fantasy manager ranks over the last 30 days since his arrival in Carolina. He is up 25 overall spots into the top 100, 98th overall, and WR40 currently. Johnson has seen major volatility in his value over the last year. Dipping to a low of WR49 and peaking as the WR29.

Johnson is currently valued around other wide receiver names like Christian Watson, Christian Kirk, and Amari Cooper. While looking at other positions he is valued similarly to Javonte Williams, D’Andre Swift, Derrick Henry, and Will Levis. From a rookie pick perspective it is a 2024 early-second-round pick or a future late-first-round pick.

Diontae Johnson Dynasty Outlook

Diontae Johnson has proven capable of turning targets into top-12 and top-24 fantasy wide receiver finishes. But the last two seasons have soured fantasy managers and left them wondering which combination of seasons is the truth. What will the fresh start as the featured wide receiver in Carolina do for Diontae Johnson dynasty outlook?


How close your rebuild is to turning the corner into the middle of the pack and then contender will dictate what you do with Johnson. If you are prepared to fill in around your young assets and start competing, Johnson for a 2024 2nd makes tons of sense. Perhaps you are still a couple years away, then making the move for Diontae Johnson just doesn’t make much sense. If Johnson is on your rebuilding roster the same rule applies as above. If you can trade him for a future late first-rounder or land a young asset of similar value, I would make a move. Christian Watson and Josh Downs are potential wide receivers. Jake Ferguson and Michael Mayer are intriguing tight ends to consider while potentially trying a pick swap to improve your pick by leveraging the higher value of wide receiver versus tight end.

Middle of the Pack

Diontae Johnson is a buy across the middle-of-the-pack team spectrum. Johnson has shown a WR1 ceiling. Produced on a WR2 level. And even through the struggles of the Steelers offense in the last two seasons, has provided a safe floor of 10.5 fantasy points per game or better. At the cost of a late-first or early-second-round rookie pick, I would be happy to take Johnson. Johnson is the type of player who can provide consistency with an exciting ceiling if this offense ascends. Those rookie picks are like a special surprise bag, they could be anything! You are likely set up with at least two wide receivers you can trust on the roster and Johnson can be a wide receiver to take you into contendership.


If you are a contender you likely don’t require a safe 10-point-per-game fantasy player. I mean, safe flex play that doesn’t hurt to have. If the price is right based on ask and your team’s needs, it’s safe to buy. If someone comes knocking and your team can afford to deal Johnson away. I would be comfortable with that too. Could be an opportunity to get younger. As I mentioned above, maybe you are a Travis Kelce manager and could go for a pick swap to your advantage and get a younger tight end like Jake Ferguson or Michael Mayer. Contenders have the flexibility based on what they currently have on the roster to decide whether a buy or sell of Johnson works best for them.

Main Photo: Kareem Elgazzar-USA TODAY NETWORK


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