Diontae Johnson’s Best Ball Fantasy Outlook: Can He Post WR2 Numbers on the Panthers?

After two underwhelming seasons, can Diontae Johnson revive his fantasy value as a member of the Carolina Panthers?

Carolina Panthers‘ WR Diontae Johnson has disappointed fantasy football managers each of the past two seasons. With his value lower than ever, should fantasy managers be willing to give Johnson one more chance to prove he’s as good as he was in 2021?

Diontae Johnson’s 2024 Fantasy Outlook

After Johnson’s 17.2-fantasy-points-per-game 2021 season, I thought that was the moment for him. He had established himself as a perennial WR2 at worst. After all, Johnson posted those numbers in a season where his quarterback was the ghost of a once-great Ben Roethlisberger.

Much to my surprise, that would go down as the best quarterback play Johnson has had since.

The past two seasons have been incredibly frustrating for Johnson’s fantasy managers (and presumably Johnson as well). While he did see some deeper targets last season, Johnson suffered a hamstring strain that cost him essentially five games and dealt with a trio of quarterbacks, all of whom should probably not be starting in the NFL (and won’t be in 2024).

Johnson’s target share dipped to 23.5%, and he averaged a mere 11.8 fantasy points per game.

In 2024, things will look very different for Johnson. Presumably, Bryce Young should provide a QB upgrade. The 2023 No. 1 overall pick was supposed to be the best quarterback in the class. Although we now know that title belongs to C.J. Stroud, that doesn’t preclude Young from being a great quarterback in his own right.

Unfortunately, Young’s rookie season was an unmitigated disaster. Having a 33-year-old Adam Thielen as his WR1 did not help. But Young did nothing to elevate any of his pass-catchers. The hope is Johnson can help Young ascend as a passer.

Should You Draft Johnson in 2024 Best Ball Leagues?

There are a lot of reasons for fantasy managers to avoid Johnson this season. He hasn’t been a productive fantasy asset in three years. The Panthers project to be one of the worst offenses in the league, lowering his touchdown potential. Young showed no signs of being a franchise quarterback last season. All of these things are true.

Even so, I find myself drawn to Johnson in 2024 Best Ball drafts.

The Panthers completely lack a WR1. While Johnson was the clear No. 1 in Pittsburgh, George Pickens is no slouch. In Carolina, Johnson’s only competition for targets is a now 34-year-old Thielen. We could very well be looking at Johnson pushing a 30% target share.

Remember, last season Thielen had a stretch where he was an elite WR1. If Johnson sees the volume Thielen was seeing, which he certainly deserves based on his skills as a route-runner.

Somehow, Johnson averaged 2.04 yards per route run last season, 29th in the league. That’s mighty impressive, given his QB play and lack of over productivity. It speaks to Johnson’s immense talent as one of the best route-runners in the league. If Young takes a step forward and Johnson is treated as the alpha he is, he could easily turn in a volume-based WR2 season.

Johnson’s price is currently the cheapest it’s been his entire career. He’s actually being drafted at a spot even lower than where he finished last season. My favorite type of player to draft is one going at his floor. I struggle to see a scenario where Johnson is any worse this season than he was last season. At worst, fantasy managers should get what they pay for.

Now, what if Johnson is better? What if he’s much better? What if Young becomes a top-15 quarterback with Johnson as his top target? It stands to reason Johnson can at least do what Thielen did last season.

As long as Johnson remains this cheap, I will be drafting him as much as possible.

KEEP READING: Best Ball Fantasy WR Rankings 2024

As we look ahead to the 2024 fantasy football season, why not start preparing for your rookie drafts with our dynasty rookie rankings? Additionally, as you look to improve your team heading into 2024, our dynasty trade calculator can help you find the perfect deal to boost your championship chances.

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