Coming off of a strong close to the 2020 season after dealing with serious drops issues in the middle of the year, Pittsburgh Steelers’ third-year wide receiver Diontae Johnson is garnering fantasy football hype ahead of the 2021 season.
According to a 2021 Fantasy Football rankings post from CBS Sports Saturday morning, Johnson — who finished with 88 catches for 923 yards and seven touchdowns in his second season — is viewed as one of the biggest fantasy sleepers in CBS’s predictive model.
With a new offensive coordinator in Matt Canada in the fold in Pittsburgh, and a renewed emphasis on an improved run game, things could really open up in the passing game for the Steelers and veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. One guy who could truly benefit from that is Johnson, who was targeted a team-high 144 times in 2020.
“One of the 2021 Fantasy football sleepers the model is predicting: Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson. The third-year pro took a major step forward in 2020, racking up 88 catches for 923 yards and seven touchdowns. His late-season trends indicate he could be in line for even bigger numbers in 2021. Johnson was targeted at least 12 times in all but two of the final eight games of the season. He finished the year with a huge 11-117 receiving line against the Browns in the playoffs as well. Johnson’s 2021 Fantasy football ADP shows he’s barely going off the board inside the top 100 overall, but the model projects that you’ll get similar production as teammate JuJu Smith-Schuster, T.Y. Hilton and Tyler Boyd, all of whom are going off the board well before Johnson,” CBS Sports writes.
Though Johnson saw nearly 150 targets in 2020 and put up a massive stat line in the playoff loss to the Browns, it’s important to proceed with some caution with Johnson when it comes to his fantasy value. It’s hard to see the third-year receiver seeing such a high number of targets each week, especially with the Steelers trying to re-establish the run game. The big game in the playoffs also came with the Steelers in comeback mode seemingly right away, which led to the Steelers attempting 68 passes in the 48-37 loss.
One area that could also be a concern with Johnson is his issue with drops. Though he is working on cleaning up the drops with tennis balls, there’s still some concern there when it comes to the dynamic receiver, who ended up on the bench for roughly a quarter last season due to the issue, which led to a career-high 15 drops, leading the league.
There’s no denying how good Johnson can be when he’s on his game though, which allows him to provide great fantasy value at a lower average draft position compared to some bigger name receivers.