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Dynasty & Redraft: WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, Steelers


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Chad Forbes @NFLDraftBites

JuJu a big name. Extraordinary young to hit FA at 24 yrs old. Hear Raiders & Jets. Will either go to $14M+ per yr? Assume want shorter deal to hit FA again. Averaged  8.6 YPC in 2020 and outplayed by cheaper WRs at times. I think his market collapses unless Raiders are stupid.

https://twitter.com/nfldraftbites/status/1362165892122042374?s=21

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NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reports the Jets have been "having conversations" with free agent WR JuJu Smith-Schuster.

It's the first team linked to the 24-year-old since free agency opened, though it's admittedly an odd fit with Jamison Crowder still manning the slot there. It's still in the Jets' benefit to shed Crowder's contract, saving $10.3 million against the cap, and reunite Smith-Schuster with his former college quarterback. Even if Sam Darnold gets another crack at the starting gig, having the trio of Corey Davis, Denzel Mims, and JuJu would be a vast upgrade from last year's oft-injured receiving corps. The Raiders are also reportedly "very interested" in adding Smith-Schuster.

RELATED: 

New York Jets

SOURCE: Ian Rapoport on Twitter

Mar 18, 2021, 10:47 AM ET

 

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NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reports the Steelers "haven't closed the door" on re-signing free agent WR JuJu Smith-Schuster.

Pittsburgh has reportedly "remained engaged" with the 24-year-old the past few days as his market continues to shake out. Odds are the team would come in with an offer late if the Jets, which are currently in discussions with him, skimp on any long-term deal. The Steelers haven't shown any interest in locking up Smith-Schuster as a franchise cornerstone, likely leading to a one-year agreement even if he were to return. It's obviously a situation to monitor as it would effect the outlooks of those around him wherever he lands.

RELATED: 

New York Jets

SOURCE: Mike Garafolo on Twitter

Mar 18, 2021, 11:16 AM ET

 

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On 2/24/2021 at 10:07 AM, menobrown said:

0% chance he returns to Steelers.

I'm not quoting this as a "gotcha" to you. I just think it's indicative of this free-agency period, because pretty much everyone figured Juju was never going back to PIT. And here we are. So weird. 

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NBC Sports Edge:

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Steelers re-signed WR JuJu Smith-Schuster to a one-year, $8 million contract.

It makes sense that Smith-Schuster would sign a 'prove-it' deal after underwhelming as a possession receiver in his age-24 season, but returning to the same team that used him as such is a hard pill to swallow. The Chiefs, Steelers, and Ravens reportedly offered similar deals, but JuJu instead chose to run it back once more with Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers will thus return the same receiving corps that flamed out in the second half of 2020, and hit free agency once more at the ripe age of 25. Diontae Johnson is still expected to lead the team in target share with JuJu soaking up shallow opportunities similar to last year's usage.

SOURCE: Adam Schefter on Twitter

Mar 19, 2021, 1:19 PM ET

 

 

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1 minute ago, phandango said:

I'm not quoting this as a "gotcha" to you. I just think it's indicative of this free-agency period, because pretty much everyone figured Juju was never going back to PIT. And here we are. So weird. 

It's ok, I don't mind. I never thought it would happen but never thought he'd be an $8M a year guy either. I'm sure not alone, even this morning I read an article from Kaboly saying he had no chance to return event at a discount.

But when someone says 0% and it goes wrong calling them out is appropriate.

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It took a perfect storm of events for this outcome to occur. 

  • A year ago no one thought the salary cap would drop
  • No one thought the WR market would be this weak
  • No one thought he would want a 1-year contract
  • No one thought he would give the Steelers a home-town discount

It's probably the best move for him to maximize future earnings, though.

 

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11 minutes ago, jobarules said:

The Jets gave Corey Davis 5-75 and Juju signed for 1-8

:lmao:

This is why the Jets are the Jets

You are right JuJu is a considerably better buy but Corey's deal is 3/$37.5 or if Jet's prefer 2/$27.

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59 minutes ago, tangfoot said:

It's probably the best move for him to maximize future earnings, though.

Not sure about that.

Big Ben is a year older and he's lost some O-Linemen and his arm isn't what it used to be.  Ju-Ju has some young WRs nipping at his heels and he was trying to build his brand seemingly at the expense of the team. 

He failed to post a 100 yard receiving game in the regular season since 2018 when he was playing with AB so he got 2nd tier CBs.  

I think the biggest obstacle could be Ben's arm. 

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1 hour ago, jobarules said:

The Jets gave Corey Davis 5-75 and Juju signed for 1-8

:lmao:

This is why the Jets are the Jets

aside from the real contract being 2 yrs for 25M.....the Jets already have a good slot WR in Crowder not to mention Im pretty confident that if JuJu rebuffed solid teams like the Ravens/KC who offered more....there was no chance he was signing with the Jets.  

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2 hours ago, jobarules said:

The Jets gave Corey Davis 5-75 and Juju signed for 1-8

:lmao:

This is why the Jets are the Jets

Yeah, that's not close. Jets gave Davis 11.5 million dollars a year, and Corey plays outside while JuJu plays slot. It becomes apples to oranges at that point. If you want to laugh about the Jets, laugh about 5.5 million dollars for Keelan Cole when they probably could have had JuJu for six-seven million more (which they can afford). If you want to laugh in general, laugh at the Pats for the Bourne and Agholor signings. But I think you're mistaken here.

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16 minutes ago, rockaction said:

Yeah, that's not close. Jets gave Davis 11.5 million dollars a year, and Corey plays outside while JuJu plays slot. It becomes apples to oranges at that point. If you want to laugh about the Jets, laugh about 5.5 million dollars for Keelan Cole when they probably could have had JuJu for six-seven million more (which they can afford). If you want to laugh in general, laugh at the Pats for the Bourne and Agholor signings. But I think you're mistaken here.

agreed - he wasnt coming to the Jets unless they massively overpaid him....

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On 3/1/2021 at 5:23 PM, barackdhouse said:

I feel like FA is going to be anti climactic this year. Not much juice IMO. 

 

18 minutes ago, King of the Jungle said:

Well that is anticlimactic. Kind of was hoping to see what James Washington could do with a larger role. WR market turning into the RB market.

Yeah pretty much. I was hoping I'd be wrong.

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I have Juju as one of four keepers in my keeper league, but we took the 2020 season off for pandemic reasons.  I didn't own Juju elsewhere, but having watched enough Steelers games the anecdotal feeling I got was that he never really felt involved in the offense.  He had his big games, but you didn't get the feel that he's a focal point.

So I was a bit surprised when for .5 PPR Juju finished as WR18.  I realize it's not the top-of-the-league hopes some have held for Juju, but it gives me a bit of optimism upon his resigning with Pittsburgh.  I was certainly hoping he was headed somewhere else, but at least for long-term it's a one-year deal.

For 2021 purposes only, Ben's age concerns me, as does the Steelers' offense morphing into a passing attack that doesn't favor long gains.  If there's a reason for optimism, my hope is that the continued development of Chase Claypool may take some of the double-teams off of Juju.  He's clearly not a top WR1 that can overcome that, but if Claypool is enough of a threat, I think that may help Juju a bit.

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4 minutes ago, rschroeder1 said:

  If there's a reason for optimism, my hope is that the continued development of Chase Claypool may take some of the double-teams off of Juju. 

No one is double teaming JuJu.

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11 hours ago, Balco said:

The one position they didn’t need to spend money on is wide receiver. 

True, but that is a cheap price for a good, but not great, WR like Juju who already knows their system and has a good chemistry with the QB.  

By taking a 1-year deal, Juju is obviously hoping he can have a big year and parlay that into a bigger contract next offseason.  That wouldn't have happen playing in Baltimore (run first team with a QB who isn't a great thrower) or Kansas City (where he would have been 3rd at best on the pecking order of targets).  In Pittsburgh, it will likely still be a 1a, 1b and 1c situation with Claypool and Johnson. 

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2 hours ago, Da Guru said:

I thought Schuster was looking for a long term deal?   

I know the WR market is flat this year as Kenny Galladay will not get near the deal he turned down from the Lions last year.

A lot of the free agents were expected to sign one year deals in the hope for an increased cap next year. 

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Replying to news of Ju-Ju resigning with the team that lead to these stats.

---------------------------------

Rich Hribar@LordReebs

If it means we have to see JuJu run 85% of his routes in the slot with a 6.0 aDOT again, hard pass.

--------------------------------

Rich Hribar@LordReebs

JuJu's slot rate in the NFL...

  • 2017: 58.0%
  • 2018: 61.6%
  • 2019: 66.3%
  • 2020: 84.9%

Depth of Target

  • 2017: 10.1
  • 2018: 9.3
  • 2019: 9.8
  • 2020: 6.0

%Tgts Over 15 Yds Downfield

  • 2017: 21.5%
  • 2018: 19.9%
  • 2019: 20.0%
  • 2020: 9.4%

--------------------------------------

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22 minutes ago, barackdhouse said:

Wasn't last year a different OC?

Big Ben had a big say in construction of the offense and had free reign to audible out of run plays into passing plays which he did with impunity.  

The QB is older, has had an injury that cost him the bulk of a season two years ago.  The O-Line was crumbling and has lost pieces meanwhile the WR depth chart is loaded.

The offense couldn't run the ball and couldn't hold up so percentage-wise they didn't take a lot of shots downfield and utilized the strengths of WRs while at the same time minimized the weakness of the QB but the QB took over calling a lot of plays which highlighted his weakness'.  

So the OC was the issue last year and everything will be fine with Ju-Ju?

I don't think its that simple.  

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3 minutes ago, Bracie Smathers said:

So the OC was the issue last year and everything will be fine with Ju-Ju?

I don't think its that simple.  

That's all fine but I was only asking a question. For fantasy I hate that he resigned and for many of the same reasons. I was just curious. I think that if they somehow ran the best scheme next year that anyone could ever possibly imagine, Ben's inability to throw is still a problem. I have no choice but to bump down all Pitt WRs and Ebron who I was counting on for middling bottom end TE1 production. Still, I think a lot of the homers have said repeatedly that the OC was hot garbage. Didn't know about Ben's audibling, though. 

One other *possible* ray of hope is if they draft a top RB that hits from day 1, maybe other things open up. 

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I don't think Ben has lost much on his arm, can still throw it just fine. I think the dink and dunk nature of so many of his passes is making people think he can't throw but it's more a function of the OL, his lack of mobility and not wanting to take hits, not his arm..

I'm of the opinion JuJu returning was solid for him, he's got a QB who trusts him and he's shown to get enough volume. As a player I used to think he was more but now think he's in the mold of a Jarvis Landry type. Not seeing much evidence he's a #1, seeing tons of evidence he's a yac reliant strong handed possession WR and he might be in an offense fairly well suited for that. I admit KC would have excited me for fantasy reasons, but I don't think he's in a bad spot and if a team tried to pay him and make him a bona fide #1 it might have gone badly.

I actually worry about his knee. No major surgery I know about but it's seemed to be a nagging issue for last two years, I can't recall 2019 but I know last year he missed at least a day or practice every week and just looks a little less explosive.

 

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25 minutes ago, menobrown said:

I don't think Ben has lost much on his arm, can still throw it just fine. I think the dink and dunk nature of so many of his passes is making people think he can't throw but it's more a function of the OL, his lack of mobility and not wanting to take hits, not his arm..

I'm of the opinion JuJu returning was solid for him, he's got a QB who trusts him and he's shown to get enough volume. As a player I used to think he was more but now think he's in the mold of a Jarvis Landry type. Not seeing much evidence he's a #1, seeing tons of evidence he's a yac reliant strong handed possession WR and he might be in an offense fairly well suited for that. I admit KC would have excited me for fantasy reasons, but I don't think he's in a bad spot and if a team tried to pay him and make him a bona fide #1 it might have gone badly.

I actually worry about his knee. No major surgery I know about but it's seemed to be a nagging issue for last two years, I can't recall 2019 but I know last year he missed at least a day or practice every week and just looks a little less explosive.

 

I see him as the 3rd choice on that team.

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38 minutes ago, JohnnyU said:

I see him as the 3rd choice on that team.

I see him as the second most targeted WR on the team but I think we are speaking the same language in that I view him as the third best fantasy option.

But that should not be considered some massive negative either or point of reference that returning was bad for him. Steelers are only team in NFL to put 3 WR's in the top 24 in fantasy scoring. If it's like last year it's a team with no true fantasy  #1, but 3 fantasy #2's. (thought I would point out if you isolated Diontae's fully healthy games he was a WR1)

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1 hour ago, menobrown said:

I see him as the second most targeted WR on the team but I think we are speaking the same language in that I view him as the third best fantasy option.

But that should not be considered some massive negative either or point of reference that returning was bad for him. Steelers are only team in NFL to put 3 WR's in the top 24 in fantasy scoring. If it's like last year it's a team with no true fantasy  #1, but 3 fantasy #2's. (thought I would point out if you isolated Diontae's fully healthy games he was a WR1)

Let's not forget that it is just a one year deal and he's only 24.

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  • 1 month later...
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JuJu Smith-Schuster said he'll play more outside receiver in 2021. 

Smith-Schuster told ESPN's Adam Schefter his role in Pittsburgh's offense could shift this season after a 2020 season that saw the veteran lead the league with 103 targets from the slot. Smith-Schuster saw just 22 targets while lined up on the outside. His woefully low 6.5 yards per target -- nearly two yards less than his career average -- and 8.6 yards per reception -- 3.5 yards under his career average -- led to a less-than-stellar statistical season in the Steelers' pass-heavy offense. Even a little more downfield usage would give Smith-Schuster more fantasy upside in 2021. 

SOURCE: The Adam Schefter Podcast 

May 12, 2021, 11:37 AM ET

 

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I found this interesting, may impact a third contract with the Steelers.  According to overthecap.com, JuJu only counts $2.4 million against the cap in 2021.  In 2022, dead money is $5.6 million.  Surprising to me, Steelers have the most available cap space in 2022.  

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15 hours ago, miqws said:

I found this interesting, may impact a third contract with the Steelers.  According to overthecap.com, JuJu only counts $2.4 million against the cap in 2021.  In 2022, dead money is $5.6 million.  Surprising to me, Steelers have the most available cap space in 2022.  

They have basically no one signed after next season. From a cap perspective they are primed for a rebuild. But they never do. They still need to find a QB and extend Watt and other key players. 

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On 3/21/2021 at 3:44 PM, menobrown said:

I see him as the second most targeted WR on the team but I think we are speaking the same language in that I view him as the third best fantasy option.

But that should not be considered some massive negative either or point of reference that returning was bad for him. Steelers are only team in NFL to put 3 WR's in the top 24 in fantasy scoring. If it's like last year it's a team with no true fantasy  #1, but 3 fantasy #2's. (thought I would point out if you isolated Diontae's fully healthy games he was a WR1)

Seemed like a pretty clear pecking order when they are all healthy: Diontae, Chase - who was TD dependent, big play upside but RZ success can be variable - and then Juju, who offers neither YAC or much RZ upside but pretty good pinball machine if you play full PPR.

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10 hours ago, BobbyLayne said:

Seemed like a pretty clear pecking order when they are all healthy: Diontae, Chase - who was TD dependent, big play upside but RZ success can be variable - and then Juju, who offers neither YAC or much RZ upside but pretty good pinball machine if you play full PPR.

Not sure I totally agree here.  For 2020, Claypool was #15 across the NFL in red zone targets (20 targets, 10 catches, 4 TD).  Juju was #17 (19 targets, 16 catches, 6 TD).

In regard to total YAC, the rankings go Juju 22, Diontae 26, Claypool 44.  For YAC/R, all three performed more poorly compared with the top of the league.  Juju 103, Diontae 84, Claypool 60.

I think there's some variability to how this year plays out because Juju's role is quite different.  Entering 2020, he was the de facto #1 receiver, and my anecdotal observation was that he was treated like that.  I recall from the Eagles game, when Claypool went nuts, that Juju was frequently seeing double teams.  I didn't watch every Steelers game, so that may have been a limited sample trend.

But if we in the fantasy community consider Diontae the #1, it would logically follow that NFL defenses may be planning for Diontae, rather than Juju, as the #1.  How Diontae reacts to that, how Claypool reacts to more attention, and where Juju slots in to that mix is something I can't possibly predict.  But I don't think the results of 2020 are set in stone to repeat in '21.

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  • 1 month later...
  • 2 weeks later...
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The Athletic's Mark Kaboly reports there has been "limited to no outside work" for JuJu Smith-Schuster in training camp. 

Smith-Schuster has almost literally been begging for more outside reps, but beat writer Mark Kaboly hasn't seen it since pads went on, save for "individual goal-line work." It's just as well for fantasy, as Smith-Schuster will be funneled cheap PPR looks over the middle of the field. For real life, Smith-Schuster wants the boundary reps to increase his free agent value after his market tanked last spring. You can't always get what you want. 

SOURCE: The Athletic 

Jul 29, 2021, 7:41 PM ET

 

 

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