Chiefs Sign JuJu Smith-Schuster

by Garrett Ball

NFL Free agency is wild right now and there are a lot of players finding new destinations. In this particular article, we'll go over my JuJu Smith-Schuster free agency reaction and the Fantasy Football implications of him signing with the Kansas City Chiefs.

I figured JuJu would sign with a team fairly quickly as one of the top free-agent wide receivers, despite his injury-riddled 2021 season. However, it was quiet for JuJu at the start of free agency. It took some time, but maybe he landed in just the right spot.

JuJu Smith-Schuster signed a one-year, $10.75 million dollar "prove it" style deal. If there's anywhere that should give him a chance to show his stuff, it's Patrick Mahomes.

How does it affect the Chiefs' current pass catchers? What of the Kansas City passing game as a whole? Is JuJu good anymore? What happens back in Pittsburgh?

I don't know if you could tell by now, but I like this signing. There is potential here for JuJu Smith-Schuster that hasn't been there for previous Cheifs WR2s. Let's dive in.

Chiefs Sign JuJu Smith-Schuster

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Chiefs Side of Things

The Chiefs needed to upgrade at their WR2 spot this offseason. Mecole Hardman was third on the team in receiving yards with 693 last year, followed by Byron Pringle at 568 rec yards. Hardman is still in KC, and Pringle is now on the Bears. With JuJu, Kansas City gets a good WR2 who can actually pull defenders off of Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, opening things up for this already dynamic offense.

Some people may be disappointed with JuJu over the last few years after Antonio Brown's departure from Pittsburgh. But, don't forget that after Brown left in 2019, Ben Roethlisberger suffered an injury and all of the Steelers suffered. When Ben came back in 2020 JuJu led the Steelers in receptions, was 2nd in targets, and tied for the most receiving touchdowns on the team with nine. He was behind Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson in yardage, I'll concede that much.

However, it's not that he sucked, his role changed. From 2017 to 2019, he averaged nearly 14 YPR. That fell all the way to 8.6 YPR in 2020. His ADOT fell in a similar fashion as well. Big Been needed a short area guy because his arm wasn't what it once was.

The same can't be said of Mahomes, we know he can throw. And JuJu will likely eat up all of Pringle's vacated targets, plus some of Hardman's and other ancillary KC WR's shares. A 16% target share isn't exactly a big share, but it's about 100 targets in the KC offense. I think JuJu could get there and possibly more. Hardman had 83, and he's better than Hardman. If he can get that, and return to even 11-12 YPR, 65 rec for 800+ rec yards and 5 TD is not out of the realm of possibilities. Those projections are somewhat conservative as well. If he ends up at or close to a 20% target share, watch out.

Right now JuJu is a low-end WR3, high-end WR4 for me. Even though the potential is there, he still has to get used to the playbook, learn new schemes, and develop chemistry with Mahomes. Moving teams can be tough on players sometimes. If we hear reports out of camp that he is excelling, however, he can certainly improve his standing.

Steelers Side of Things

The one benefit we have from JuJu missing most of last year is we got to see what the offense would look like without him. I think the target distribution between Johnson, Claypool, Friermuth, and Harris stays relatively similar. The one caveat is I doubt Najee gets as many targets as he did last year. Pittsburgh just added Mitchell Trubisky on a two-year deal, boosting my confidence in this offense vs Mason Rudolph at the helm. Maybe a year in Buffalo sitting behind Josh Allen taught him a thing or two and he comes out guns blazing, surprising us all.

Claypool is right around where I have JuJu, I just need to see more from Claypool before I move him up. I have Diontae ranked as a WR 1. The man is just good at football. He's likely going to be Trubisky's top target and Allen Robinson was absolutely peppered in Chicago. Draft Diontae with confidence come draft season. Freiermuth is a high TE2 for me. Najee stays pat as an RB1.

That will do it for the JuJu Smith-Schuster Free Agency Reaction! There's a lot of movement going on in the NFL so make sure to check back in at Fantasy Six Pack for other free agency and trade reactions and analysis!


Check out our reactions to the Deshaun Watson, Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan, Carson Wentz, Davante Adams and Amari Cooper trades!

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