As we gear up to the start of the NFL season, Football Absurdity is going to bring you a comprehensive breakdown of every notable player that will be available in fantasy football drafts. Diontae Johnson quietly had one of the best rookie years for a wide receiver in 2020. Why is he going so much later than fellow sophomores D.K. Metcalf and Terry McLaurin, and can you use that to your advantage?
Diontae Johnson ADP and AAV:
Standard: WR38, 101 overall
PPR: WR49, 124 overall
Average Auction Value: $2
Diontae Johnson Statistics:
Diontae Johnson Overview:
There’s a lot of “why are we disrespecting Diontae Johnson?” Built into his coverage headed into 2020. That’s somewhat warranted; his 92 targets ranked third last year, and ninth in the last five seasons among rookie wide receivers. That puts him in the same range his rookie season as guys like Cooper Kupp and Calvin Ridley. Johnson also has comparisons to Antonio Brown (though we hope that comparison stops once we reach the braincase), so you can see why people are excited. Unfortunately for Diontae Johnson Skeptics, anything you might bring up against him is generally yadda yadda-ed away by pointing to Duck Hodges and Mason Rudolph. It’s the perfect win-win situation for DJ stans.
All sleepers have some sort of blemishes to them, which is why they are sleepers. If they didn’t have a potential downside, they’d be drafted higher. Instead, we’ll frame these as things we hope that Ben Roethlisberger helps him fix. His yards per pass-run was #44 last year, and his catch rate was just #48 among wide receivers. The part that we hope Big Ben can overcome is getting him more catchable balls, as Johnson’s catch rate on catchable balls was 88% last year, which ranked #16 among wide receivers.
What’s also encouraging is his #26 ranked hog rate (targets per route). Ultimately, he needs more targets or a higher efficiency for him to truly break out this year to end up as a top-25 wide receiver in the draft.
Diontae Johnson Draft Strategy:
Take Diontae Johnson. Johnson was the #40 wide receiver last year with the trash throwing him the football last year. Right now, he’s going around WR50 in PPR, which he’s already shown he can beat. He’ll be a value pick who looks to be a backend WR3 as a 2020 floor. Given his price point, there’s little downside to being a Diontae Johnson doubter. Even in standard scoring, he’s outside the top-100, which means he’s taking up a middling-round pick in your drafts. In an auction, he’s even more of a screaming deal, going for a couple of bucks.
So far, I haven’t come across a Diontae Johnson price point that makes me out on Johnson. In standard scoring, WR38 feels a bit high, but he’s outside the top-100, so it’s hard to quibble.
It really feels like Diontae Johnson’s floor is a weekly set-and-forget wide receiver for your squad, which means that taking him is a slam dunk pick, given his upside and his Antonio Brown comparisons.
Best Case Scenario:
Diontae Johnson shows up in camp wearing #84 with a Lego Man haircut and he convinced Big Ben that he is, in fact, Antonio Brown and that it is 2017 again. Diontae Johnson gets 180 targets on the year and starts to go by AB.
Worst Case Scenario:
Diontae Johnson shows up in camp wearing #84 with a Lego Man haircut and accidentally convinced Roger Goodell that he is, in fact, Antonio Brown. Johnson eats an eight-game suspension.