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More Slot Snaps Coming For George Pickens In New Offense

By Jared Smola | Updated on Thu, 13 Jun 2024, 8:56 AM EDT
George Pickens Headshot

Steelers WR George Pickens has been lining up in the slot more in new OC Arthur Smith's offense. Pickens played just 15.4% of his snaps inside as a rookie in 2022 and 16.9% last year. It sounds like that number will rise considerably in 2024.

What They're Saying

“I’m a total receiver, I like working in the slot just as much as I like working as an outside receiver,” Pickens said. “It puts me on linebackers, put me on safeties. Speed, splitting defenders, that’s the biggest thing in the slot. If you got super, super good speed, you can split defenders and it’s going to be easy to score. It’s being smarter than linebackers. They got a few keys. They are kind of crash dummies. Just being smarter than them, catching the ball getting down when you are supposed to, catching the ball and scoring when you are supposed to.”

2024 Fantasy Football Impact

Pickens has been slightly less effective in the slot than outside through two NFL seasons. He's averaged 1.58 yards per route from the slot vs. 1.76 from the outside.

But we'd still consider this news a positive for Pickens' 2024 fantasy outlook. Smith is clearly looking to make Pickens the focal point of the passing game. Getting him into the slot will make it tougher for defenses to double Pickens -- and also get him matched up against LBs.

The concern for Pickens is the Steelers' overall passing volume. Four of Smith's five NFL offenses have ranked bottom eight in pass attempts, including three bottom-three finishes. We're projecting the Steelers to rank bottom five in passes this year.

Pickens will need to draw a big target share to pay off his current WR28 best-ball ADP. He sits a few spots lower than that in our 2024 WR Rankings.

Jared Smola Author Image
Jared Smola, Lead Analyst
Jared has been with Draft Sharks since 2007. He’s now Lead Analyst, heading up the preseason and weekly projections that fuel your Draft War Room and My Team tools. He currently ranks 1st among 133 analysts in draft rankings accuracy.
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