Pittsburgh Steelers second-year wideout James Washington was pegged as a breakout fantasy football star ahead of the 2019 season. Many believed that with Antonio Brown no longer residing in the Steel City, Washington would blossom into a legitimate WR2 for the Ben Roethlisberger-led Steelers offense.
However, that’s not been the case, at least for the majority of the season. Since Big Ben went down with an injury earlier in the year, Mason Rudolph has done very little to help move the offense through the air.
Yet, if there’s been one bright spot in the midst of the offensive struggle in recent weeks for Pittsburgh, it’s the Oklahoma State connection between Rudolph and Washington, two former OSU Cowboys.
Can Washington continue to elevate his game with JuJu Smith-Schuster out of the lineup this week and work his way into your fantasy football lineup? Let’s discuss.
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James Washington’s Fantasy Outlook vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Over the Pittsburgh Steelers’ first seven games of the season, wideout James Washington did very little to help lessen the ill-effects of losing Antonio Brown in the offseason. Over that span, Washington averaged a putrid 23 receiving yards.
However, in recent weeks Washington seems to have turned over a new leaf, as his connection with his former college quarterback has begun to blossom. In Washington’s past three games, he’s seen his average receiving yards jump to nearly 70 per game, while also averaging an impressive 12.6 fantasy points.
Washington will need to continue his improved play into Week 12, as the team will be without their WR1 in JuJu Smith-Schuster as he deals with a knee injury. To make matters worse, in the Pittsburgh aerial attack, Diontae Johnson was left in concussion protocol past the team’s final injury report on Friday. He was, however, cleared late Saturday afternoon, yet it’s still something certainly worth keeping an eye on.
Even with Johnson on the field, Washington seems to have supplanted Johnson in the favorite receiver pecking order of QB Mason Rudolph. Washington has seen 16 targets to Johnson’s 12 targets over the last three games. Washington has also been vastly more productive than Johnson with those added looks, averaging 41.3 more receiving yards on two more receptions per game than Johnson over that span.
Cincinnati may allow the 12th-fewest fantasy points to opposing wideouts this year, but that number can be a bit misleading. Teams attacked Cinci’s putrid run defense early on in the season, in return, those teams didn’t have to air the ball out much. However, that gameplan has changed a bit over recent weeks. Opposing leading receivers have averaged a staggering 121.25 receiving yards against the Bengals over the team’s past four games. Plus, you shouldn’t be too concerned that Pittsburgh will go run-heavy on Sunday, as they currently rank as the sixth-worst rush offense in football and will also be without the services of James Conner.
Should You Start or Sit James Washington in Week 12?
James Washington has sneaky good startability in Week 12. While he may not be a viable WR1/WR2 for obvious reasons, this is mainly due to the man throwing him the football. He’s seen his production increase tenfold over recent weeks.
Washington is a mid to low-end WR3 on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals and their 24th-ranked total defense.
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