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What to do with Diontae Johnson, James Washington in Week 12 fantasy football

With JuJu Smith-Schuster already ruled out for this weekend, can either Johnson or Washington take advantage of his absence?

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver James Washington reaches for a pass against the Los Angeles Rams during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Week 12’s meeting between the Steelers and the Bengals is truly one of the most interesting fantasy plots we’ve had heading into Sunday. With both JuJu Smith-Schuster (concussion) and Diontae Johnson (concussion) forced to leave last Thursday’s contest against the Browns, not only was the status of most of Pittsburgh’s receiving corps up in the air, but it was uncertainty heading into possibly the best matchup a group of WRs could draw. Dating back to the beginning of Week 6, Cincinnati has surrendered an eye-popping 11.8 yards per target to opposing wideouts - the highest mark in the NFL by over a full yard. For the season, the Bengals have also conceded the third-most 20-plus yard passing plays in the entire league. So, who’s healthy enough to take advantage of this?

After not practicing all week in the lead up to this weekend’s game, Smith-Schuster has been ruled out. Conversely, Johnson was able to log three full sessions and appears in line to suit up versus Cincinnati. I’d expect both he and James Washington to play a generous allotment of the Steelers’ offensive snaps, with each checking in as a viable WR3 candidate for season-long purposes. However, an intriguing name to watch out for is Johnny Holton. The speedy receiver racked up an insane 195 air yards in Week 11 despite only logging 59.5% of Pittsburgh’s snaps. In fact, that total was the second-highest figure among all wideouts. Holton was able to accomplish this by averaging 27.9 yards per target in his abbreviated time on the field and he should be considered a high-ceiling option in GPPs and deeper formats.

Fantasy Football Analysis, Pittsburgh Steelers WRs Diontae Johnson and James Washington

As I stated above, I like both Johnson and Washington’s values this weekend, but I would caution about getting too much exposure to either. Mason Rudolph has struggled to prop up his wide receivers since taking over as the starting QB and most teams have been content to run the ball down the Bengals’ throats for the majority of 2019, with Cincinnati actually leading the NFL in opponent rushing attempts per game (33.6). Just something to remember.

Start/Sit Recommendation

Start Johnson. Start Washington.