In the Yahoo Fantasy Football Forecast, Matt Harmon and Scott Pianowski break down what they expect to see from the Pittsburgh Steelers WR corps this season.
MATT HARMON: Now this next storyline, I guarantee now that I’m going to be in the host chair of this show every single day for the pod, people are going to just hate me for obsessing about the Steelers receivers. But I find them to be such a fascinating group. So I just want to kind of run through a couple of notes with them.
Number one, Diontae Johnson sort of doing the Holden thing as well. He even talked about it, because again, I’m obsessed with this topic. I find these players also fascinating for no reason other than I am a big Diontae Johnson fan. I watched an interview with him where he said like, I wouldn’t be doing this, but it’s just in my best interest. Like, he wants to be out there practicing, but I’m sure his agent said like, you don’t need to be going out there doing anything until they give you a new contract, which may or may not happen. So I don’t know how that situation will sort out.
But he’s doing the Holden thing. Chase Claypool was working in the slot, which is really interesting, because I think Claypool stunk last year. Couldn’t get open, couldn’t run routes on the outside. I think he actually could be a much better fit as a big slot receiver. And really can beat man zone coverage better on the inside than he probably can as a pure outside guy.
And George Pickens, the rookie receiver, Scott, who I’m a big fan of, was one of the best press coverage beaters last year among the college prospects, just a really good refined ex-receiver, is drawing a lot of positive reviews . It sounds like that will be on week one of their three receivers set. Diontae Claypool and George Pickens. And then it just kind of depends on, is Claypool going to play in two receiver sets or will George Pickens win this battle? Because right now, Chase Claypool is actually day to day with a shoulder injury.
So are you excited about this Steelers offense? I know this is a stupid topic that I like a lot. I mean, you know, fricking Kenny Pickett doesn’t even sound like he’s got a shot to start week one. It’s probably going to be Trubisky. So should I stop caring about this group as much as I seem to do or are you interested in kind of an upside bet with any of these guys?
SCOTT PIANOWSKI: I’m always interested in the Steelers’ receivers. For whatever reason, for the last 20 years, this team has drafted receivers better than everyone else. And they found so many talented guys outside of the first round. So that’s part of it. And we know that Roethlisberger was such a compromised player. It’s easy to make a Mitch Trubisky joke, and we know Picketts a rookie and all that, but Roethlisberger was so compromised his final lap around the league that I think just getting him out of there is a positive for him.
To steal some of your words, Diontae Johnson commands targets. And that’s a skill. That is something a receiver does that we give him credit for. And it’s so hard in football to isolate what they do, but Johnson’s going to get targets no matter who the quarterback is. And he’s somebody who I could draft proactively at his current ADP.
You talk about, Claypool didn’t play well last year, there’s no doubt about it. But the touchdown totals from his first or second year just don’t really make sense. And I think back to that first year he had the four-touchdown game against Philadelphia. And I remember at least a couple of those touchdowns were just slot beaters, in the middle of the field. You know, how do you cover this guy? At least one touchdown, I can see it in my mind, the Eagles weren’t covering him. It was like they were point shaving.
But I feel like getting Claypool involved at that level of the field, and they have a good tight end in Freiermuth, but he’s basically like a big tight end. I’d like to think that there’s an upside for Claypool. I was disappointed to see him have a setback with the shoulder, only because, not that it changes that much, but I was hoping Claypool would have a really smooth pre-season and maybe by the end of the summer when I was drafting, I could be a little bit more confident in making a pick with him. But still, he’s got a double digit touchdown season on his resume, so I can’t forget that.
I don’t know what to do with Pickens. He’s a guy who you can’t go on Twitter right now without finding some Pickens hype or some Pickens video. And what do you do with these things, you know? Sometimes you’re running against twos or you’re running against defenses they’re kind of jogging through the motions and everything, nobody’s tackling.
They have these goofy helmets on, which if they can make them safer, I’m all for it. I’ve always wondered why they couldn’t put some kind of soft foam around the helmet. I guess they’re doing it in practice now. I’m not a NASA engineer, but anything that can help these guys not get concussed is probably a good thing.
But the bottom line is this. The Steelers always have talent at receiver. They have a moving situation, a fluid situation at quarterback. Diontae is going to get is 135, his 140, 145 targets. At his current ADP, I’m fine with it. Claypool’s a guy I’d like on my bench, because of the touchdown upside. I probably won’t draft Pickens in a standard league, only because I’m asking him to maybe move in on Claypool and step into a situation where the quarterbacks aren’t solidified.
But I think I’m going to have a fair amount of DJ and a fair amount of Claypool when the draft season is over. And understanding that Pickens is a good player, and maybe he’ll be somebody we’ll talk about during waiver season, because he won’t be drafted in a lot of standard leagues. But I think you’re right to circle the Steelers as a team to watch, because again, a shifting quarterback landscape and a team that always has a very deep interesting receiver room.