Steelers WR Diontae Johnson Is Making the Worst Kind of NFL History
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson came into the season with high expectations. His team viewed him as a true WR1 and let JuJu Smith-Schuster go because of that. Fantasy football managers had high Diontae Johnson fantasy hopes, too. He was a top 20 WR in most fantasy drafts, picked in the first four rounds. However, despite playing in every Steelers game so far, Johnson hasn’t scored a touchdown yet. And in Week 14, that fact allowed the Steelers wideout to break a little-known NFL record that has stood for over 25 years, and it has nothing to do with Diontae Johnson drops.
The Steelers No. 1 WR has made history in 2022 with no touchdowns
Catching 5 of 11 targets in the Pittsburgh Steelers Week 13 win over the Atlanta Falcons gave Diontae Johnson 105 targets on the season. The next week, during the Steelers’ loss to the Baltimore Ravens, Johnson caught six of his eight targets.
Cresting the 109-target mark for the season officially broke a record that no NFL player would want.
In 1996, Chicago Bears WR Michael Timpson had 109 targets in a season without scoring a single touchdown. After a 10-of-10-catch performance in the Steelers’ Week 15 win over the Carolina Panthers, Diontae Johnson now has 123 targets without finding the end zone.
Johnson joins a group of five NFL pass-catchers — including some well-known names — who have had over 100 targets in a season without a touchdown. That list looks like this:
|Diontae Johnson||Pittsburgh Steelers||2022||123||77||745||0|
|Michael Timpson||Chicago Bears||1996||109||62||802||0|
|Amani Toomer||New York Giants||2004||107||51||747||0|
|Torry Holt||Jacksonville Jaguars||2009||103||51||722||0|
|Hakeem Nicks||New York Giants||2013||101||56||896||0|
|Laviska Shenault Jr.||Jacksonville Jaguars||2021||100||63||619||0|
And to put Diontae Johnson’s touchdown futility into context in 2022, the next the highest-targeted pass-catchers without a TD don’t add up to Johnson’s targets this season:
|Kylen Granson||Indianapolis Colts||40||31||302||0|
|J.D. McKissic||Washington Commanders||40||27||172||0|
|Cameron Brate||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||37||20||174||0|
|Diontae Johnson||Pittsburgh Steelers||123||77||745||0|
Johnson’s inability to find the end zone has contributed to the Steelers’ 6-8 record this season. And if you are one of the millions of fantasy football managers who drafted him, it likely hurt your record as well.
Diontae Johnson Fantasy stock has plummeted
After starting the season with an average draft position (ADP) of WR16, per Fantasy Pros, the Diontae Johnson fantasy numbers haven’t lived up to the hype.
With 77 catches for 745 and his historic touchdown drought, Johnson is WR32 in standard scoring PPR Yahoo! leagues. In non-PPR scoring, that number plummets even further to WR43.
The interesting thing is that, without the historic lack of touchdowns, the Diontae Johnson fantasy numbers would put him exactly where fantasy football managers thought he would be before the season.
Johnson has averaged just over six TDs a year in his first three NFL seasons. And if the Steelers pass-catcher had six TDs this season, he would be the No. 16 WR in fantasy for 2022.
Diontae Johnson drops: How many drops does Diontae Johnson have?
What might come as a surprise to some fans is that the historic touchdown drought in 2022 for the Steelers wide receiver has little to do with Diontae Johnson drops. The fourth-year wideout struggled with drops early in his career. In 2020, he led the NFL in drops with 13, per Pro Football Reference.
Since then, the Diontae Johnson drops have decreased dramatically. By working on hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills drills with the Steelers coaching staff, Johnson’s total drops the last two seasons haven’t equaled his frustrating 2020 campaign.
How many drops does Diontae Johnson have in 2022? He actually only has five, which is the same number as in 2021. Five drops ties Johnson with 25 other NFL players for 23rd place.
While it is great that Johnson seems to have figured out his drops issue, the lack of touchdowns is concerning. He will have three more chances to end cap stop this historic skid, as the Steelers still have games against the Las Vegas Raiders, Ravens, and Cleveland Browns this season.