JuJu Smith-Schuster an Intriguing Fantasy Option in Kansas City


The AFC West continues to be the league’s most compelling division in NFL free agency, as the Kansas City Chiefs got into the mix and signed JuJu Smith-Schuster to a one-year, $10.75 million contract Friday. Still just 25 years old, Smith-Schuster will get a chance to prove it in one of the league’s most explosive offenses.

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Not long ago, Smith-Schuster looked poised to be the next man up in the Steelers wide receiver corps. In 2018, he caught an impressive 111 passes for 1426 yards and eight scores. In the process, he finished as fantasy’s No. 8 wide receiver, just three spots behind teammate Antonio Brown


With Brown out of the mix in 2019, it was Smith-Schuster’s torch to carry, but that ended up being too heavy of a burden. He battled injuries and managed just 42 catches for 552 yards and three scores. To be fair, Smith-Schuster did bounce back in 2020 with 97 catches, but he did so decidedly as the second option in the target pecking order behind an emerging Diontae Johnson.

Therein lies the benefit to this landing spot for Smith-Schuster. In Kansas City, he will not need to be the top target. As a matter of fact, he won’t even need to be the second target, with Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce in place. As the third fiddle, Smith-Schuster can provide a weapon out of the slot that the Chiefs have not had in Patrick Mahomes’ tenure as the starter. His overall skillset will be a nice contrast to the fleet of speedsters the Chiefs have rolled out at wide receiver.

Despite getting to play with Mahomes, Smith-Schuster should be expected to recapture the fantasy glory of his 2018 season. Hill and Kelce will likely account for roughly 50% of the targets, so we’re not talking about a massive share for Smith-Schuster. He’s also a good bet to continue to be a low air yards target who will likely be south of a 10.0-yard average depth of target. 


All of that said, there still is good opportunity for Smith-Schuster in this offense. Mahomes attempted a healthy 658 passes last season. While that might be a tick high for expectation, we could still figure in the range of 625-650 passes in 2022. With that sort of volume, Smith-Schuster would only need to crack around a 16% target share to be in the mix for 100-plus targets. While his low aDOT tendencies do not translate to much upside, he does offer an appealing floor. If he does in fact earn the No. 3 role behind Hill and Kelce, Smith-Schuster would figure to be in the WR3 conversation as a high-floor option.

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