Pickett ranked 30th or worse among 33 qualifying quarterbacks in yards per attempt (6.2), touchdown rate (1.8%, which is gross) and QB rating (76.7) while failing to score 20 Fantasy points in a game last season. These stats are made uglier when you consider that his receiving corps wasn't that bad and his pass protection graded out slightly better than league average, though his rushing production helped. The hope is Pickett becomes more comfortable in the offense and throws more touchdowns in 2023. It's reasonable to expect more scoring from Diontae Johnson (no TDs in 2022) and Pat Freiermuth (no touchdowns from Pickett in 2022) while also hoping for a breakout second season from George Pickens, who caught four of Pickett's seven scores. Adding Allen Robinson could also help. Pickett might improve, but not to the point where he becomes a weekly must-start. That's why he won't get picked in many seasonal leagues unless you can start multiple passers.
Pickett didn’t wow anyone during his rookie season. After seizing the starting job from QB Mitchell Trubisky in Week 5, the first-round rookie never had a game with multiple passing TDs and only four games of 200+ passing yards.
But after OC Matt Canada changed up the offensive philosophy following the Steelers’ bye week last year, Pickett began to thrive in a game manager role.
He’s unlikely to light up the stat sheet in 2023, but he should be considered a safe QB2 option for fantasy managers.
What We Learned Last YearPickett was selected by the Steelers 20th overall in the 2022 NFL Draft.By year’s end, he finished as the QB28 overall with 11.5 points per game.He only managed to finish within the top 20 in fantasy scoring five times as a rookie with only a single QB1 performance (Week 10, QB12 overall).Throughout the season, Pickett had his share of concussion issues. While he only missed one start (Week 14), backup QB Mitchell Trubsiky played in two other contests where Pickett left early due to a head injury.In 13 games played, Pickett averaged 29.9 pass attempts per game. He exceeded 200 passing yards only four times in 2022 and didn’t record a single game with multiple passing TDs.On the year, among 24 QBs with 400+ dropbacks, Pickett ranked: 14th in Pro Football Focus passing grade23rd in yards per attempt21st in adjusted completion rateThings seemed to click for Pickett by the end of 2022, however. From Week 12 through the end of the regular season, he ranked first in PFF passing grade among 31 QBs who logged 100+ dropbacks.While it’s not a primary fixture of his game, Pickett added fantasy value as a rusher last season. He recorded three rushing TDs with 235 rushing yards, and finished ninth among QBs in PFF rushing grade (min. 25 carries) in 2022.
What to Expect in 2023Pickett set a pretty low bar for himself to clear in his sophomore season, and he did show signs of improvement to end 2022 that point to optimism.Even so, it’s tough to say how much of a fantasy factor Pickett will be in 2023. The Steelers are expected to be a run-heavy team this year.After a rough start to Pickett’s career as the starter, the team saw a massive shift in offensive philosophy after their Week 9 bye. The run-heavy approach OC Matt Canada oversaw paid dividends:Week 5 - Week 8: 5th in pass rate, 25th in total yards per game, 28th in play success rate, 32nd in drive success rateWeek 10 - Week 18: 27th in pass rate, 15th in total yards per game, 5th in play success rate, 3rd in drive success rateThere’s little reason to suggest the Steelers will go away from what worked for them down the stretch in 2022. As such, Pickett will be more or less a game manager moving forward.A plethora of talent around him and upgrades to the offensive line (2023 first-round NFL draft pick OT Broderick Jones, free agent signee G Issac Seumalo) should make Pickett a solid QB2 with potential QB1 spot-start value.
Pickett is entering his second NFL season after he was the only QB selected in the first round of the 2022 draft. The Pitt product played 100% of the offensive snaps in 10 games last season, but managed only seven TDs and 12.8 fantasy PPG during those games. His best weekly finish was 12th in Week 10. The good news is that quarterbacks tend to make a big leap in efficiency in Year 2, and Pickett has shown he can add value with his legs (he ranked sixth in carries and seventh in rushing yards among QBs during his 10 full games). Pittsburgh is slowly improving its offensive line and Pickett will have a good group of targets led by Diontae Johnson, George Pickens and Pat Freiermuth. The 25-year-old is a breakout candidate and fine late-round flier.