George Pickens Fantasy Projections: Should You Draft Pickens in Fantasy This Year?

    A young WR in a youthful offense with a young QB, what are George Pickens' fantasy projections in 2023, and should you draft him at his ADP?

    As the NFL season approaches, millions of people are turning their attention to fantasy football. We at PFN have been researching more than 350 players, trying to identify which ones are overrated, underrated, and priced right. With that in mind, here are Pittsburgh Steelers WR George Pickens’ fantasy projections for 2023, as well as insights into whether he should be drafted at or before his ADP.

    Get a trade offer in your dynasty or redraft league? Not sure who to start or sit this week? Leverage PFN’s FREE fantasy tools — the Fantasy Football Trade Analyzer and Calculator and Start/Sit Optimizer! Put the finishing touch on your A+ draft with 1 of our 425+ fantasy football team names.

    George Pickens’ 2023 Fantasy Projection

    The Steelers nabbed Pickens in the second round of last year’s draft. They already had a youthful receiving corps led by wideouts Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool and tight end Pat Freiermuth. Where would Pickens fit in?

    Apparently, he fit in just fine. Despite being the 11th WR taken in the draft, he finished fourth among all rookie WRs in receptions (52) and receiving yards (801). He and fellow rookie Kenny Pickett developed seemingly terrific chemistry. Once the latter took over at quarterback in Week 4, Pickens took off.

    And “took off” doesn’t do it justice. This is where the micro stats tell us more than the macro. In 5.5 games with Mitch Trubisky under center, including two contests in Weeks 14 and 15 while Pickett was injured, Pickens compiled a 10-196-0 receiving line on a measly 50% catch rate. For context, that would equate to a 31-606-0 line across a 17-game season.

    By contrast, Pickens reeled in 42 of 64 targets with Pickett at the helm — a 66% catch rate. His total line in those 11.5 games was 42-605-4. Across a 17-game season, that would come to a 62-894-6 line.

    That’s a huge difference, especially when weighing the expected Year 2 development of both Pickens and Pickett. The offseason addition of 30-year-old Allen Robinson II shouldn’t adversely impact Pickens. In fact, it might be a net positive compared to this time last year, when Chase Claypool (traded to Chicago midseason) threatened to cap Pickens’ ceiling.

    Essentially, Pickens is better than his overall 2022 numbers suggest, as nearly one-third of his playing time came with Trubisky at QB. Assuming Pickett stays healthy, we can envision continued growth between these two, culminating in a reasonably expected 80+ catches for 1,000+ yards and 6+ touchdowns.

    It could be argued that Pickens is the de facto No. 1 WR on this squad. As good as Diontae Johnson is, his biggest competition for targets in his first two seasons included JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, and Claypool. Washington’s career has declined precipitously. Claypool has floundered with the Bears.

    Johnson stood out as an ascending talent because A) he’s very good at football, and B) he didn’t have much competition.

    Viewed through the lens of no worse than the co-No. 1 WR on this team, Pickens should be statistically as good or better than Johnson this year. His high floor and impressive ceiling (roughly 95-1,150-8) likely will make him a weekly fantasy starter.

    Should You Draft George Pickens This Year?

    Underdog Fantasy currently lists Pickens with an ADP of WR38. Our PFN Consensus Rankings list him at 34. Clearly, most people view him as a fringe fantasy starter at best, perhaps because they view last year’s production as a whole.

    But again, breaking it down based on who was throwing to him, it’s clear that Pickens — last year’s overall WR39 — is a great bet to take a meaningful Year 2 leap. His expert consensus ranking marks his floor. His realistic ceiling is somewhere in the WR14-18 range.

    That makes him an intriguing option to draft at his current ADP. While he probably won’t anchor a fantasy team’s WR corps, he can generate enough volume and production to be a valuable No. 3 option.

    Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast!

    Listen to the PFN Inside Access 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!

    Related Articles