Pittsburgh Steelers WR Diontae Johnson has had a tough time of it so far in 2023, and fantasy football managers have ridden that roller coaster with him. Just one game after returning to the field, Johnson is back on the injury report, and there is significant concern that he could miss time again.
Let’s take a look at Johnson’s latest injury update, whether he is expected to play in Week 8, and what it all means for fantasy managers.
Latest Injury Update on Diontae Johnson
The latest injury update for Johnson is significant news. The WR has gone from being a full participant on Wednesday to being listed as a non-participant on the Steelers’ injury report on Thursday. Mid-week downgrades are rarely good signs, especially with soft tissue injuries such as a hamstring.
We didn’t get any clarity on the situation from Pittsburgh’s coaching staff Thursday as they spoke before practice when the media was unaware of any concerns surrounding Johnson. If offensive coordinator Matt Canada was aware of the issue, he showed a good poker face when asked a more general question about Johnson by the media.
We should find out more information when head coach Mike Tomlin speaks to the media again on Friday. If Tomlin provides us with answers, then practice and game-status report should tell us all we need to know about Johnson’s health.
Having already missed four games with a hamstring injury, what we know so far is rightly concerning fantasy managers.
Will Johnson Play This Week?
The last time Johnson dealt with a hamstring injury this season, he missed four games while on injured reserve. He could have potentially missed more time had it not been for the Steelers having a bye in Week 6.
If this injury is anywhere near as significant as the one suffered in Week 1, then Johnson will almost certainly miss this week.
As mentioned, mid-week downgrades are rarely a good sign for players, fans, and fantasy managers. Unless the downgrade is more about rest purposes, the chance of a player getting back to a playing level with just a couple of days of recovery time is a tough ask.
The only positive here is that the fact he did not participate at all on Thursday would suggest Johnson picked up the injury on Wednesday, giving him a few more hours of recovery time. Unfortunately, with a hamstring issue, even if Johnson plays, he’ll likely be significantly hampered.
What Does This Mean for Johnson’s and George Pickens’ Fantasy Ranking?
Johnson’s hamstring issue has led to a significant downgrade in PFN’s Consensus Fantasy Rankings this week. He currently sits just outside the top 35 WRs, with two of our analysts having him right around 100th overall.
If it wasn’t for the health concerns, Johnson would likely be at least a few spots higher after five receptions for 79 yards in his return last week.
MORE: Week 8 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet
Based on that ranking, our analysts are concerned that even if Johnson suits up, he won’t be healthy enough to make a significant difference for the Steelers and fantasy managers.
With Johnson sliding down the rankings, it has opened space for George Pickens to jump up inside the top 25 at the position. Pickens had 107 yards on five receptions from eight targets last week. It was his third 100-yard receiving game this season and his fourth with more than 10 fantasy points (PPR scoring).
Whether Johnson is active or not, Pickens should likely be in consideration as a starting WR or Flex option this week. If Johnson is out, Pickens could very well finish the week as a top-20 fantasy wide receiver.
Johnson missing time could also benefit Allen Robinson, who sits second on the team in targets with 27. However, Robinson has been far from consistent this year, with only three games over five fantasy points and has not topped 10 points since Week 1.
Deeper-league fantasy managers may want to consider a speculative add in Calvin Austin III. The speedy WR had one monster game while Johnson was out but would be nothing more than a dice roll in Week 8. In all likelihood, with no teams on a bye, Austin will be surplus to requirements for most managers.
Looking to make a trade in your fantasy league? Having trouble deciding who to start and who to sit? Setting DFS lineups? Check out PFN’s Free Fantasy Football Trade Analyzer, Start/Sit Optimizer, and DFS Lineup Optimizer to help you make the right decision!
Listen to the PFN Fantasy Podcast
Listen to the PFN Fantasy Podcast! Click the embedded player below to listen, or you can find the PFN Fantasy Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms. Be sure to subscribe and leave us a five-star review! Rather watch instead? Check out the PFN Fantasy Podcast on our Fantasy YouTube channel.