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George Pickens, Diontae Johnson's Updated Steelers Fantasy Value After Claypool Trade

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVNovember 1, 2022

PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA - OCTOBER 16: George Pickens #14 of the Pittsburgh Steelers reacts as he runs onto the field prior to the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Acrisure Stadium on October 16, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers alleviated their long jam at wide receiver by trading Chase Claypool to the Chicago Bears Tuesday for a 2023 second-round pick, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter and Field Yates.

Claypool's departure might be good news for fantasy managers with George Pickens or Diontae Johnson on their roster ahead of the second half of the season.

Johnson is the team leader in receptions (43) and receiving yards (372), though he still hasn't scored his first touchdown.

Russell Clay @RussellJClay

The PAIN leaderboard (through Week 8):<br>(Most Total Yards without a touchdown)<br>1. Donovan Peoples-Jones - 419<br>2. Diontae Johnson - 394<br>3. Chris Godwin - 372<br>4. Marquez Valdes-Scantling - 366<br>5. Darnell Mooney - 364<br>6. Tyler Higbee - 312<br>7. Nico Collins - 305<br>8. J.D. McKissic - 268

Pickens has 26 catches for 338 yards and one touchdown in his rookie campaign.

Tuesday's trade doesn't catapult Johnson or Pickens into the elite tier of fantasy wideouts, but Claypool's absence means both players could see more targets each week.

Of the two, Pickens might stand to benefit more. CBS Sports HQ's Josina Anderson reported the Steelers "feel ready to give [Pickens] an expanded role."

The 2022 second-round pick went without a catch in a Week 8 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles but had 21 receptions for 273 yards and one score in his preceding four games. His stock was already trending upward as he steadily got more comfortable in Pittsburgh's offense.

Aaron Freeman @falcfans

I was not a big fan of Pickens coming out, but he's outperformed my expectations so far and I expect him and Pickett to have a much better rapport than he had with Claypool

Johnson's fantasy ceiling, meanwhile, still may not be that high without Claypool in the mix. He's only averaging 8.7 yards per reception in 2022, and he wasn't a big-play threat en route to making the Pro Bowl in 2021, either. He averaged 10.9 yards per catch while finishing with 1,161 yards overall.

Until Kenny Pickett takes major steps forward or the Steelers upgrade at quarterback in a big way, Johnson's fantasy boost after Tuesday could be marginal.

Pittsburgh is off in Week 9, so you'll have to wait before the impact of the Claypool trade is reflected on your squad. When the time comes to start Johnson or Pickens, both warrant flex consideration.

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