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Off-season Fantasy Football Dynasty Buys 2023: Diontae Johnson

dynasty fantasy football - diontae johnson

Despite the Pittsburgh Steelers drafting George Pickens in the 2022 NFL Draft, WR Diontae Johnson is the player to buy in dynasty fantasy football leagues.

My beloved fantasy football degenerates, don’t let your loved ones be affected by recency bias. It’s a serious condition afflicting many dynasty managers these days. In 2021, the Pittsburgh Steelers selected WR George PIckens in the 2nd round of the NFL Draft. Because of that, there’s plenty of dynasty players who regard George Pickens as the next star in Pittsburgh. We’re going to use that to our advantage by buying Diontae Johnson.

After stellar Sophomore and Junior seasons in the NFL, Diontae Johnson had quite the fall-off in 2022. The departure of Ben Roethlisberger saw two new quarterbacks under center – Mitch Trubisky and first round pick Kenny Pickett. Diontae saw 22 less targets in ’22 compared to ’21, as well as a career-low in yards per route run, paving the way for his worst fantasy finish since his rookie season.

Despite not scoring any touchdowns all year, DJ had 11 end zone targets, which was top-10 in the NFL. He had the second-most unrealized air yards in the league, while being 55th in target accuracy.

Trade for Diontae Johnson over George Pickens

With this acquisition we’re predicting a decent 2nd year improvement Kenny Pickett. If you’re the type of manager who is out on Pickett, or believes that George Pickens is the next big thing in the NFL, this may not be the move for you. However, Pickens only truly dominated Johnson in touchdown receptions (5 to 0 ), and that’s never a reliable stat to choose one wide receiver over another.

Although many are touting Pickens to emerge as the alpha in the Pittsburgh offense, I’m only projecting a slight improvement in his Sophomore season. Pickens ran a route on just over 90% of Pittsburgh’s pass plays this season, managing a middling 15.6% target rate. Throughout the season he trailed Diontae by 59 targets, only recording more than 6 targets twice all year.

In comparison, Diontae Johnson recorded at least 8 targets in 14 games this year. I conducted a blind polling between Pickens (player A) and Diontae (Player B) on Twitter. Through that I was able to conclude that about half of dynasty managers prefer Pickens stat line. I’m of the belief that targets are earned, and in the last three years, Johnson has yet to see less than 144 targets in a season.



At present, 2021 has been Diontae’s best year of his career. Working with the wet noodle arm of an ancient Ben Roethlisberger, he posted 107 receptions 1161 yards and 8 Touchdowns. He accumulated the second-highest dominator rating in the league at 34%, while finishing 8th among WRs in fantasy points per game.

In PPR formats you want the target hog players. Diontae Johnson has a strong chance to close 2023 as a fringe WR1 as long as he can maintain the bulk of targets on his team. Now is the perfect opportunity to pounce on the true alpha in Pittsburgh.

Below are some recent trades made in the month of Februrary according to DLF.

  • SEND: Random 24 1st; RECEIVE: Dionate Johnson
  • SEND: 23 2.12 and a random 24 2nd; RECEIVE: Dionate Johnson and 2023 3.05
  • SEND: Mike Evans, Michael Thomas, 2023 4.11; RECEIVE: Dionate Johnson, Zack Moss
  • SEND: Calvin Ridley, Jakobi Meyers; RECEIVE: Dionate Johnson
  • SEND: Joe Mixon; RECEIVE: Dionate Johnson
  • SEND: Keenan Allen, 2023 2.12, 2023 4.01; RECEIVE: Dionate Johnson, 2023 2.06