Diontae Johnson, Bryce Young, Panthers’ Fantasy Outlook After Steelers Trade

Diontae Johnson, Bryce Young, Panthers’ Fantasy Outlook After Steelers Trade
Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayX.com LogoFeatured Columnist IVMarch 12, 2024

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - JANUARY 06: Diontae Johnson #18 of the Pittsburgh Steelers reacts after scoring a touchdown in the fourth quarter of a game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on January 06, 2024 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The Carolina Panthers are finally getting Bryce Young some receiving help.

Carolina acquired wideout Diontae Johnson and a seventh-round selection from the Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for defensive back Donte Jackson and a sixth-round pick, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Johnson spent his first five seasons in Pittsburgh, making one Pro Bowl appearance and serving as a reliable intermediate target. The Steelers shrank Johnson’s role last season as George Pickens emerged as their WR1, and Carolina is a bit of an awkward fit.

It’s hard to see Johnson and Carolina’s incumbent WR1, Adam Thielen, meshing well together. There is a glaring overlap in the types of routes Johnson and Thielen find success running, so odds are one of them will be pushed to a smaller role. Smart money is on Thielen given his age (33), but he was the only receiver Bryce Young felt comfortable targeting consistently last season.

The Panthers offense was nothing short of an abomination last season, and we’ll have to see a major improvement before finding anyone on the roster particularly relevant from a fantasy perspective.

Johnson projects as a WR3 or low-end flex play who could have extra value in PPR leagues. The Panthers’ draft capital is limited after moving up in the draft to take Young, but it would not be a surprise to see them invest in the receiving corps with a Day 2 pick.

Young is draftable only in 2QB/superflex leagues. He just finished one of the worst rookie seasons in modern history. There’s not much positive to say about his performance, and Johnson isn’t the caliber of receiver who will turn things around overnight.

There is still hope given the situation he was drafted into last season—and it can only go up from here—but fantasy managers can keep him off draft boards for now.

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