Preseason Battle: Steelers’ Wide Receiver: Is Donte Moncrief or James Washington The Better Value?


Let’s start with what we know, the Pittsburgh Steelers like to pass the ball. That might even be an understatement as they led the league in pass attempts last season at 689. Of those attempt 168 of them were directed towards Antonio Brown. After controversy marred his departure from Pittsburgh those targets now need to be replaced.

At this point it’s hard to believe all of what we read, as a lot of it is speculation, and there is also a portion of it that is floated out there by the team themselves. The best way to make a decision, and I know this isn’t groundbreaking, is to take in all of the information, observe what is going on and then draw your conclusion. With that being said Jeremy Fowler, the Steelers’ reporter for ESPN, recently opined that Pittsburgh believes they have a minimum of nine pass catchers on their team with potential.

If we are touting the sleeper potential of Donte Moncrief that might not be exactly what we want to hear, but I wouldn’t read much into it.

At this point JuJu Smith-Schuster is exactly who he is, and that is a stud. Last season he caught 111 passes, on 166 targets, for 1,426 yards and seven touchdowns. Smith-Schuster also had his share of big games, as he had eight weeks in which he eclipsed 100 yards. Even with the departure of Brown I’m not sure that we can ask for much more from the now number one receiver.

So that means the spot on the depth chart Smith-Schuster filled last season is now up for grabs. The battle should be between Pittsburgh’s new free agent addition, Moncrief, and James Washington. Depending on your viewpoint, that narrative fits for either one to step into the vacated role.

While Washington might be the better player, he is more explosive, Moncrief has the track record. Well, if you can call it that.

Let’s start with the second year receiver. Washington was used inconsistently last season, targeted 38 times, catching 16 passes for 217 yards. The talent is there for more, but it’s also possible Washington ends up being used as more of a third receiver. To find out if that’s the case, the current price for Washington through the first 57 NFFC drafts is the 120th selection.

That makes Moncrief instantly more attractive, as he is the 58th wide receiver coming off the board with an ADP of 173, which means he is essentially free. The fact that Moncrief’s price is essentially non-existent means that the market currently has yet to buy into his potential of starting opposite Smith-Schuster.

In reality Brown’s targets are likely going to be spread among various targets, and while Moncrief might receive the majority of them he won’t come close to his value as a fantasy player.

Moncrief’s best season came in 2015 when he caught 64 passes for 733 yards and six touchdowns, and it’s not likely he can surpass that production. However if Moncrief is a consistent factor in Pittsburgh’s offense, he will outperform his ADP. The question is how much upside does he really have?

At his current ADP Moncrief will likely end up on a lot of my teams, but once it reaches the other side of 150 I might start to keep my distance.

Make sure to check out all of our 2019 preseason rankings:

PositionLast Update
Running Backs08/26/19
Wide Receivers08/29/19
Tight Ends07/15/19


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