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Fantasy Football Player Notes

2020 PPR Draft Rankings
JuJu Smith-Schuster Note
JuJu Smith-Schuster photo 10. JuJu Smith-Schuster (at CLE)
Did everyone forget just how talented Smith-Schuster is because he had a down year in 2019? He played through multiple injuries and dealt with what was probably the worst quarterback situation in the league. In Week 1 and Week 2, when Ben Roethlisberger was on the field, Smith-Schuster saw 16 targets, catching 11 of them for 162 yards. Not too shabby. Insert bad quarterbacks, paired with Smith-Schuster trying to run routes from the perimeter, and it was a recipe for disaster. The Steelers have vowed to put him back in the slot where he belongs, and he's getting back Roethlisberger, who's continually supported fantasy receivers throughout his long career. Going all the way back to 2008, Ben Roethlisberger's No. 1 and No. 2 wide receivers combined for at least 225 targets on eight different occasions, including 334 times when he had Antonio Brown and Smith-Schuster in 2018. With Roethlisberger on the field, the Steelers haven't thrown the ball less than 584 times since way back in 2012. It's hard to see a scenario where Smith-Schuster doesn't see at least 130 targets if he's healthy (that would be just a 22.2 percent target share), which is elite volume, so even if he's average, he'd be a high-end WR2. I'll leave you with this... Smith-Schuster posted 1,426 yards in his second NFL season at the age of 22. There are just six players who posted more yardage in one of their first two seasons. The list includes Isaac Bruce, Josh Gordon, Torry Holt, Jerry Rice, Victor Cruz, and Odell Beckham Jr. We can't pretend Smith-Schuster is anywhere close to average. He's worth a third-round pick in drafts, even though many are getting him in the fourth.
13 weeks ago
Diontae Johnson Note
Diontae Johnson photo 38. Diontae Johnson (at CLE)
When the Steelers drafted Johnson in the third round in 2019, many did a double take, but once he got on the field, he proved worthy. The Steelers liked him so much, he saw a very-high 18.0 percent target share in his rookie season. It didn't hurt that JuJu Smith-Schuster was hurt and missing some time, but it highlights how much they believe in him. He'll play the "Antonio Brown role" in the offense moving forward while Smith-Schuster goes back to the slot. The downside is that Johnson will then see the opposing No. 1 cornerback, as they don't go into the slot very often. Still, throughout Ben Roethlisberger's long 15-year career (excluding 2019), he's supported two top-40 wide receivers in 12 of them, with 11 of them supporting two top-32 receivers. There is certainly risk with Roethlisberger's elbow, but at WR43 (his current ADP), you're getting a slight discount. I mean, even with Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges under center, he finished as the WR43 his rookie season. Snagging him as your WR4 would be a good idea, as I believe he'll be a WR3 more often than not.
13 weeks ago
James Washington Note
James Washington photo 69. James Washington (at CLE)
We have the battle of second-round receivers here, as Washington is coming off his most productive season in 2019, though it's important to note that he and Mason Rudolph played in college together, so there was chemistry there. Still, it was impressive for him to post 735 yards and three touchdowns on just 80 targets considering who was throwing to him. If the Steelers hadn't drafted Claypool, Washington would have sleeper appeal. Heck, he still does, but Claypool clouds his path. It does help that rookie minicamps were canceled and that there is no preseason action, so it's likely we see Washington get the reps out of the gate, and Roethlisberger has always talked good about him. Snagging Washington with a late-round pick might make sense, as you'll find out your answer in Week 1 against the Giants. If he plays the starter role and has a few big plays, you'll see many run to snag him off the waiver wire. On top of that, if Smith-Schuster or Johnson were to miss any time, Washington would likely be staring at six-plus targets per game.
13 weeks ago
Chase Claypool Note
Chase Claypool photo 86. Chase Claypool (at CLE)
Ray-Ray McCloud Note
Ray-Ray McCloud photo 193. Ray-Ray McCloud (at CLE)
Deon Cain Note
Deon Cain photo 199. Deon Cain (at CLE)
Amara Darboh Note
Amara Darboh photo 252. Amara Darboh (at CLE)