James Washington: Low Risk, High Reward

Why it's worth investing in James Washington in 2019

Second-year receiver James Washington had a disappointing rookie season. But the confluence of his expected development and the team's major offensive changes should lead to a 2019 emergence. Let's look at the main factors to consider when evaluating Washington's 2019 prospects.

  1. Depth Chart: There is good and bad here, but the positive outweighs the negative.
  2. Offense and Quarterback: Pittsburgh led the NFL is passing attempts last season, they frequently have three receivers on the field at once, and Ben Roethlisberger is among the league's best. This is still fertile soil.
  3. Talent, Chemistry, and Situation: Washington has a second-round draft pedigree and is building chemistry with his quarterback. He's a key player for Pittsburgh's offense to remain dynamic and versatile, and his coaches and quarterback have acknowledged as much.

Every player has a ceiling and a floor, and gauging how realistic those possibilities are is a critical part of fantasy football. Washington's ceiling situation has him winning Pittsburgh's WR2 job -- certainly a realistic scenario.

Washington has top-16 upside among wide receivers, making him a worthwhile target even if his price tag increases during the preseason. But before highlighting the reasons why, let's examine what the doubters are saying.


The Why Nots

There are two main objections to drafting Washington in 2019 fantasy drafts. His rookie season was underwhelming, and the team brought in competition via free agency and the draft that could prevent Washington from winning the team's WR2 job.

Rookie Season Woes

The 2018 Steelers had some transition on offense. First, there was the Le'Veon Bell saga. Second, they were breaking in a first-time offensive coordinator. These factors led to a situation where a set-in-his-ways veteran quarterback leaned on the players with whom he felt most comfortable. Washington made plenty of highlight-reel plays in the preseason (more on that later), but few came while on the field with Roethlisberger. The chemistry was lacking.

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