Johnson has had its ups and downs in 2020, but as the Steelers’ No. 1 receiver he still has the best advantage in the group heading into 2021. Last season he averaged nearly ten targets per game, se placing fifth for all wide receivers. Targets might drop a bit this season, but his No.1 target status should stay.
To commemorate the 2021 NFL season, we’ll be counting the league’s 75 best fantasy football players. Choosing a Top 75 is subjective, especially when you’re projecting a whole season of fantastic points accumulated, but it’s part of the fun. We will assume what I consider an average league, which is 12 teams, a score of 0.5 PPR and a list of 1QB, 2RB, 3WR, 1TE and 1RB / WR / TE. Kickers and defenses don’t need to apply.
Change is the nature of the NFL beast, so trades and injuries will likely impact this list as they go, but hey, it’s not rocket science. We’re here to have a little fun and create much-needed anticipation for a league thrown into the shadows by baseball, football, hockey, etc. Sarcasm aside, the NFL is addictive and we’re here to give you your daily fix as we close the season.
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No. 58, Diontae Johnson, Pittsburgh Steelers, WR
Johnson caught 88 of 144 targets for 924 yards and seven touchdowns last season. This led the team in targets and yards. Sadly, Johnson’s 2020 will likely be remembered for the drops. At one point, he was benched for a quarter after consecutive falls. The question is, will falls continue to be a problem in 2021?
Johnson has some good competition for targets with JuJu Smith-Schuster and Chase Claypool both getting a good chunk of appearance per game. And now, with rookie running back Najee Harris in the fold, we’ll likely see a decrease in the total number of passing attempts. But we should also see efficiency increase with the pressure removed from the passing game.
Offensive expectations of the team
The Steelers were extremely lopsided towards passing last season. The teams knew Ben Roethlisberger was having trouble with the deep ball and was passing on the sidelines. They also knew that the Steelers’ running game was not effective, so they could focus on short-distance jumps and not put extra staff into stopping the race. The addition of Harris should help, while it is hoped that Roethlisberger’s arm will have bounced back a bit after more time away from his elbow surgery.
What is its advantage?
Johnson’s advantage is being a solid No. 1 receiver in this league. Falls were a problem in 2020, but we have seen young players overcome falls more often. A more effective offense coupled with fewer falls could push Johnson into a fantastic Top 20 receiver without too much trouble and his advantage could be the Top 10.
What is its downside?
If the falls continue to plague Johnson, as Roethlisberger’s arm continues to deteriorate, the offense would take a hit while Claypool and Smith-Schuster could start to see more work. The downside to the Steelers offense is real, so any Pittsburgh receiver is risky, but Johnson is easily my favorite of the group to come close to his advantage.
90 receptions, 135 targets, 1,100 yards, 7 touchdowns