Predicting Steelers target distribution for the 2020 season

Tommy Jaggi
Diontae Johnson #18 and JuJu Smith-Schuster #19 of the Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Diontae Johnson #18 and JuJu Smith-Schuster #19 of the Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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The Steelers have a deeper receiving corps than they’ve had had in years. Here’s how Ben Roethlisberger could look to distribute targets in 2020.

It’s never a bad thing when you have a crowded wide receiver room. That’s exactly what the Steelers get to experience in 2020. Though they may be without any ‘star’ players at the position after the departure of Antonio Brown in the 2019 offseason, this group of wideouts is deeper than it has been in years.

As a result, it won’t be as easy to predict how many targets each receiver will earn this year. While Ben Roethlisberger is sure to have his ‘go-to’ guys on offense, we could see a more even target distribution than we’ve witnessed in years past.

Obviously, this is assuming that each receiver stays healthy for a 16-game season. I also assumed that Big Ben won’t sling the ball quite as much as he did in 2018, thanks to his recent recovery from elbow surgery. Here’s how many looks each pass-catcher could receive in Pittsburgh’s offense this year:

Steelers 2020 target predictions:

JuJu Smith-Schuster: 154 targets

While JuJu Smith-Schuster may not be able to surpass the 166 looks he earned in 2018 with Antonio Brown opposite of him, he could end up getting pretty close. JuJu is now the number one receiver in Pittsburgh and he’s received more targets from Ben Roethlisberger than any other player currently on the offense. There is a chemistry between the two, and there’s no reason to suggest that JuJu won’t be Ben’s favorite target again in 2020.

Diontae Johnson:112 targets

Diontae Johnson could end up playing the most difficult role of any Steelers receiver in 2020. The second-year player will be asked to fill Antonio Brown’s old role as the ‘X’ receiver – a position that is asked to play on the lone receiver side and consistently beat press coverage. Though many are expecting a massive year based on his rookie performance, it’s best to assume that he will have just a mild uptick in looks from last season.