Diontae, JuJu and Claypool – Which is the Pittsburgh wide receiver to own in dynasty? In redraft leagues, choices such as these are not as significant. One will have a better year over the other, but even if you whiff completely you can just draft a different one next year! However, in dynasty leagues, your choices obviously affect you much longer. If you choose the wrong player either in a start-up or trade you may be “stuck” with them for years to come. This article will provide you with my answer to the Pittsburg WR question, but it will also provide you with a blueprint on how to analyze similar situations from the same perspective. Yes, no other team in the league has these exact wide receiver situations. Even still, other teams do have positional players with similar ADP and situations. Do not just scroll to the bottom of the article and find the “answer.” Ultimately the answer is to understand how we get there, then take that blueprint and apply it similarly elsewhere.
For all intents and purposes, Diontae, JuJu, and Claypool all have the same stats on average. One may argue otherwise and that is their right to do so. They can sit here all day and try to dissect the stats and come up with one favoring the other. They may say the answer to the question on which wins on “production” is Chase Claypool, because he beats both JuJu Smith-Shuster and Diontae Johnson on yards/reception at 14.1 compared to JuJu Smith-Shuster (12.1) and Diontae Johnson (10.9). They may say Diontae Johnson is the answer since he led the team with targets/game at 9.6 compared to JuJu (8.0) or Claypool (6.8). They could use stats to say the answer is JuJu Smith-Shuster, because he ended the season with the most fantasy points among the three in PPR scoring. Be weary of stats from analysts like these that try to prove a point, because anyone can find some stat to try to prove whatever narrative they want to convey.
Here are some basic stats regarding the three starting Steelers WRs: JuJu Smith-Shuster has been in the league four years and has 26 Touchdowns on 308 receptions. Diontae Johnson, in the NFL for only two seasons, has had 12 touchdowns on 147 receptions. Chase Claypool, in the NFL for only one season, has 9 receiving touchdowns on 62 receptions. Again, you can sit here all day and try to argue one player over the other based on stats, but I think it is more or less useless. Ultimately, each has been extremely productive relative to their time in the league, and that’s really all that matters in that respect.
Even though JuJu Smith-Shuster has played four full NFL seasons, he is surprisingly not even the oldest of the group between these wide receivers. At age 24, JuJu is actually 2nd oldest behind Diontae Johnson who is a year older even though he has played in half as many seasons as JuJu. Chase Claypool, now coming into his second season, is the youngest at age 23. Even though Diontae is two years older than Chase Claypool, and JuJu is smack dab in the middle based on age, I do not factor age into choosing between these three athletes. Each of them are considered very young at the position and we should expect all of them playing for at least 5-6 years plus regardless. In this sense, I view them all the same age: “young.”
For those keeping score, Diontae, JuJu, and Claypool are tied so-far in my rankings. Each have similar enough production and all are so young that their age shouldn’t be factored in to our equation. Their skillsets, however, are different and should to be factored in. JuJu Smith-Shuster is excellent out of the slot. He has great hands and runs crisp routes. He stands 6’1″ and has a great combination of all desirable traits in a wide receiver in the NFL. Diontae Johnson is similar overall, but he is a few inches shorter (than JuJu) standing at 5’10”. His most glaring issue last season was the number of dropped balls (14) he had. In fact, it got so bad last season he was literally benched mid-game. Drops are concerning, but not something to be too concerned with, in my opinion. Drops can be a little fluky, and are typically exaggerated any given season by the fantasy community in general. Scott Barrett of PFF agrees on drops being an exaggerated stat and shared his opinion on this in an article here. Furthermore, statistically speaking, it is more likely than not Johnson falls back to the mean on his drops next season anyway. Last but not least, Chase Claypool is the tallest wide receiver of these three, towering in at 6’4″. With good speed as well as hands, Claypool can be viewed as having the most upside. If he can improve his route-running skills he could be virtually unstoppable.
Each of these receivers have positives in this “skillset” category. Essentially, none of them really “win” because they are each different. Diontae Johnson, though smaller, has great speed and can matchup against the best cornerbacks in the league. JuJu Smith-Shuster excels out of the slot with his crisp routes and solid hands. Chase Claypool, though still developing, has excellent size, speed, hands, and will hopefully continue to get better with more experience in the league. If I had to pick a winner for “skillset,” I would lean JuJu Smith-Shuster. He has great size being over 6’1″, superb route running ability, and extremely dependable hands. While he may never be a true WR1, he will always have incredible PPR value and a solid floor year in and year out. With that said, Chase Claypool has the highest ceiling in my estimation, but he also has the lowest floor.
The big question looming over the Pittsburgh Steelers franchise is who will be their starting quarterback after “Big Ben” Roethlisberger retires. Already showing signs of age, it is very possible this is his last season in Pittsburgh. Without any future quarterback waiting in the wings, it is likely that the Steelers have years without a solid quarterback starting for the team. As a result, the wide receivers on the roster would obviously suffer dramatically. However, I believe this elevates one of our wide receivers over the others. JuJu Smith-Shuster is back on the Steelers on a one-year deal. That’s because the loss of revenue from the pandemic lowered the salary cap, and as a result the wide receiver market was not as friendly as what JuJu was anticipating. This is noteworthy because even if Roethlisberger retires before the ’22 season, JuJu will not stick around for that experiment with sub-par quarterback play. The salary cap will likely get a huge bump next offseason, and he will likely go to a team ready to win with a need for a slot-receiver with exceptional skills that someone like JuJu possesses. Both Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool would then take a hit at their values without a solid quarterback to get them the ball. Even though Diontae Johnson and Claypool would likely benefit by having one less premier wide receiver on the roster, JuJu’s contract situation gives him the edge in this category.
At the end of the day, I don’t think you can really go wrong with either Diontae, JuJu, or Claypool. However, I do believe based on overall skillset and long-term outlook the receiver to own is JuJu Smith-Shuster. Best of all, of the three, he is currently the easiest to acquire based on current ADP from RotoHeat.com. Diontae Johnson ranks as the 26th overall wide receiver, and Chase Claypool right in front of him at 25th. JuJu Smith-Shuster, on the other hand, is several spots lower at 32! Even if they were valued the same, I’d prefer JuJu, but with the added discount on top this makes the decision easy. Juju Smith-Shuster is the Pittsburgh wide receiver to own in dynasty leagues!
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