The Steelers and Head Coach Mike Tomlin are in unfamiliar territory this season. With a young quarterback and an aging roster, the Steelers currently sit at 2-6 and it looks like this will end up being Tomlin’s first ever losing season as a Head Coach – quite an achievement as this year is his 16th in Pittsburgh. With everything spiraling quickly, the Steelers decided to cash out on one of their better assets, trading wide receiver Chase Claypool to the Chicago Bears in exchange for a second round draft pick. The move has some significant dynasty implications, so let’s break down the players whose values have changed.
Chase Claypool, WR CHI
What an enigma. Claypool has flashed big-time talent over his first three seasons in the league, showing a knack for big-time catches and big-time performances in the process. However, the challenge with Claypool has always been his lack of consistency. The numbers on the page look fine – 62/873/9 in his rookie season back in 2020, 59/860/2 in 2021, and 32/311/1 so far this season. The problem for Claypool (much like TJ Hockenson, who was traded earlier today), has always been peaks and valleys within his performances. The fact he had 11 touchdowns in his first 17 career games (including his two-touchdown performance in the playoff loss to Cleveland) and just three in the 24 games since speaks volumes about where things have gone with Claypool. In short, he fell out of favor for whatever reason and has been an afterthought in the Pittsburgh game plan for some time now, though poor quarterback play hasn’t helped.
In Chicago, Claypool gets the fresh start he likely needed (though he was showing a nice rapport with Kenny Pickett as of late). The problem is Claypool is now going to the single worst passing offense in the league. The Bears are throwing for an anemic 126.9 passing yards per game, though it’s been a little better at 144 the past three contests. The question here is obvious – can Claypool’s value rise as a more prominent option in an awful passing attack? Time will tell on this one, but Justin Fields and that offensive line have major work to do moving forward. My bet is Claypool’s ADP fall will stop here right around 100 while fantasy managers wait to see if he can produce in Chicago. So far, the Bears have failed to make even one receiver fantasy relevant, let alone two.
In short, this doesn’t look like a move that’s going to get Claypool into lineups right away as many had hoped for today. It looks more like a move that’s solid for the Bears and more “meh” for the fantasy and dynasty enthusiasts until we see some major offensive growth in the Windy City.
Darnell Mooney, WR CHI
Adding another weapon to the offense typically hurts the others, but Mooney’s value has been on a nosedive already. A year after posting a solid 81/1,055/4 breakout season, Mooney has caught just 25 passes for 364 yards and no touchdowns through eight games this year. It’s been bad. REALLY bad. However, it’s hard to fault Mooney on this one as the Bears have looked mostly inept on offense. Perhaps the addition of Claypool will open up some freedom for Mooney. While it’s possible Claypool overtakes him as the WR1 in Chicago, it’s hard to see Mooney’s value falling any faster than it already was. Much like Claypool, this has the making of a “wait and see” situation with Mooney.
Other Bears Pass Catchers|
The rest of the Chicago roster features a “who’s who” that includes Dante Pettis, N’Keal Harry, Equanimeous St. Brown, Byron Pringle, Velus Jones, Isaiah Coulter, and tight end Cole Kmet. This entire group has been mostly disappointing and this trade likely affects the dynasty value of Velus Jones the most. It’s really hard seeing him making any kind of impact any time soon with the state of this offense. He’s certainly going to fall down in the 2022 rookie rankings and in overall ADP. In short, it’s looking like a bit of a lost season in terms of fantasy value for this whole crew. Hey, at least Kmet caught his first touchdown in two years!
Justin Fields, QB CHI
While the Bears are shedding talent on defense, they’re at least adding it on offense. Fields has been put in a terrible situation with bad coaching last season and ineptitude this year. We know he has great athleticism and potential and he’s also played a lot better lately. The addition of Claypool can only help Fields, who was desperately in need of playmakers. With improved play and the addition of Claypool, things should be looking up for Fields. He needs to make some strides the rest of this season or he’s going to find himself on the hot seat through no fault of his own.
George Pickens, WR PIT
The winner here is really still on the Steelers and that’s George Pickens. With Claypool off to Chicago, this should open up even more playing time and targets for him. He’s been looking better as the season has gone on and look for Pickens to continue to rise through the rankings as he gets more and more acclimated to the NFL.
Diontae Johnson, WR PIT
It’s hard not to like the deal for Johnson as well. Over the past few weeks, Kenny Pickett has started looking Claypool’s way more and more. If he wants to continue doing that, he’s going to have to throw the ball a long way since the distance between Pittsburgh and Chicago is about 461 miles and Pickett is no Uncle Rico. Johnson’s ADP should settle back in around 30 for the rest of the year, barring something unforeseen.
Kenny Pickett, QB PIT
Most teams add players for young quarterbacks instead of subtracting them. Still, Pickens and Johnson have more than enough talent to help Pickett be successful. The challenge here is the Steelers all of a sudden have a lack of depth at receiver, something they haven’t experienced in years. Pickett is experiencing some serious growing pains, but it’s hard to see the loss of Claypool becoming some type of death sentence for him.