In his rookie campaign, JuJu Smith-Schuster had 58 receptions for 917 yards and seven TDs while playing behind Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, and Martavis Bryant. In his sophomore campaign with Bell holding out and Bryant no longer with the team, Smith-Schuster exploded for 111 receptions for 1,426-yards and seven TDs. Per playerprofiler, Smith-Schuster was top six in the NFL in percent targeted on routes run as well as red zone target rate. Smith-Schuster joined Odell Beckham Jr. and Michael Thomas as the only three players with 165+ receptions for 2,300+ yards, and 14+ TDs within their first two seasons in NFL history. 2020 was not kind to Smith-Schuster as Roethlisberger played only two games as Devlin “Duck” Hodges and Mason Rudolph showed terrible quarterback play in his absence.
JuJu Smith-Schuster will be successful in 2020, he is Roethlisberger’s trusted number one target within an offense that should see a drastic increase in passing volume and efficiency. One potential set back for Smith Schuster would be a fourth concussion and an extended comeback.
What’s the outlook for the next 3-5 years?
The Steelers have not made any significant moves to impact Smith-Schuster’s fantasy impact since last season. The big question mark is how many of the next 3-5 seasons will Ben Roethlisberger play and how long will it take them to find the next franchise quarterback?
Smith-Schuster has had three documented concussions along with a knee sprain (2019), toe sprain (2019), and a knee contusion (2017).
To combat future injuries Smith-Schuster worked out this offseason with Corey Calliet, a celebrity trainer, which resulted in an alleged 15 lbs. Increase of muscle mass.
Juju Smith-Schuster is currently being drafted in the 2.10 slot on average per Fantasy Trade Calculator. This approximates Smith-Schuster as the WR12. In 2019 he was never drafted after the 10th overall pick and went as early as first overall.
My opinion on Smith-Schuster is that he has all the traits and talent, along with still being very young, with a healthy 2020 season he could be considered the WR1 going into the 2021 season.
Smith-Schuster is a zone coverage demolisher, finishing in the 97th percentile per Matt Harmon’s ‘Reception Perception’. He struggles against both man and press coverages, which was a red flag with Antonio Brown moving on in 2019 and Smith-Schuster facing number one corners.
In 2018 Smith-Schuster had a 57% Success Rate compared to Brown’s 49%. Compare this to just a 42% Success Rate in 2019 for Smith-Schuster.
In 2019 Smith-Schuster only had three playable weeks after Roethlisberger went down to injury (30%), a playable week means a top 24 positional finish.
Compare this to ten the year prior with a healthy Roethlisberger.
Final thought: The 2018 Pittsburgh Steelers were one of the most prolific offenses in recent history, so expecting Smith-Schuster to duplicate that production would be unsound. However, Smith-Schuster is the WR1 for a franchise that continually pumps out fantasy WR1. If Pittsburgh resigns him, expect them to build around Smith-Schuster, and if he walks expect him to sign in the biggest market possible to build his brand off the field. In both scenarios, things are looking up for Juju Smith-Schuster.
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