Like Terry McLaurin, Diontae Johnson came into the NFL as one of the most polished route runners, and it helped both of them make due in shitty situations. Come on now… Mason Rudolph and Duck Hodges? According to PFF, these two guys ranked in the bottom three of qualifying passers in the NFL, resulting in Pittsburgh’s offense finishing 31st in the league in passing yardage.
Johnson still ended up leading all rookies in receptions.
He also led the entire NFL in yards of separation in 2019, meaning he was the furthest from the nearest defender at the point of target… and that’s with Johnson running 88% of his routes on the outside.
Juju’s slot role stays intact with Ben Roethlisberger back, so he will get his, but with Diontae Johnson’s separation skills, Ben will be able to find him on the outside. If only 44% of his targets were categorized as accurate in 2019, there’s no doubt Ben provides him with a needed boost to take advantage of how open he’s getting.
So, how open was he getting? According to PFF, he was charted as being open on 84% of his targets last season, which was only 2nd only to Michael Thomas among WRs who run a majority of their routes on the outside.
Johnson created after the catch as well. He broke 18 tackles after the catch last season, which was 2nd among all rookies, and his yards after catch/reception ranked 5th in the NFL among all WRs with 85+ targets.
He’s simply a no brainer in the 9th round of 12-team PPR leagues because of his upside in the Steelers offense. I would assume his price raises a bit with positive news around Big Ben’s recovery starting to float around, along with potential chatter of Diontae showing out in camp. If you’re drafting early, I’d recommend taking advantage of his price, and maybe even buying low in dynasty leagues.