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Fantasy Reaction to Steelers Trading Diontae Johnson to Panthers

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(FTN Fantasy is reacting to all the big fantasy news of the offseason! Follow along in our transaction tracker.)

The Carolina Panthers addressed a major area of need Tuesday, trading for WR Diontae Johnson. He’ll immediately slide into the Panthers’ starting three wide receivers. Meanwhile, his departure leaves a hole in the Steelers’ receiving corps. 

 

Johnson got off to a hot start in his pro career, notching a hefty 107 catches in his third season. Of course, that was in 2021, which was also Ben Roethlisberger’s final year. Since then, Johnson has struggled to produce without Roethlisberger. He failed to score a single touchdown despite catching 86 balls in 2022. And last season, he battled injuries and managed just 51 receptions in 13 games played.

He’ll get a new lease on life as he enters his age-28 season, but it’s hard to get excited about this landing spot for Johnson. Carolina’s anemic offense was arguably the league’s worst last season. Yes, the Panthers do have a new coaching regime in place under head coach Dave Canales, but major questions loom over starting quarterback Bryce Young. Unless Young takes a big step forward in Year 2, Johnson’s fantasy outlook isn’t going to improve.

In Carolina, Johnson will join veteran Adam Thielen and second-year man Jonathan Mingo. Terrace Marshall is also on the roster, but the LSU product hasn’t been able to make the leap at the pro level. Thielen was atop the pecking order last season, seeing 137 targets. But he’ll be 34 this season and showed signs of decline down the stretch last year. Johnson figures to leapfrog Thielen, but the veteran will still see his fair share of looks from Young. At this point, it’s fair to position Johnson in the WR3 conversation.

After signing Russell Wilson earlier in the week, the Steelers will now have to address Johnson’s spot on the depth chart. George Pickens will now be the clearcut top target with Calvin Austin penciled in as the slot receiver. Pickens is now a very appealing WR2 with a high fantasy ceiling. From there, Pittsburgh really doesn’t have a viable replacement for Johnson on their depth chart. Look for the Steelers to address the position in the draft. The organization has been known to hit on wide receiver draft picks.

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