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JuJu Smith-Schuster Signs With Chiefs: Fantasy Football Takeaways & Implications (2022)

JuJu Smith-Schuster Signs With Chiefs: Fantasy Football Takeaways & Implications (2022)

The AFC West never sleeps. With every other team in the division making significant moves this offseason, the Kansas City Chiefs also decided to upgrade their passing attack on Friday by signing wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster.

What does Smith-Schuster’s deal with the Chiefs mean for the wide receiver, Patrick Mahomes, and the other offensive weapons in Kansas City? Our analysts are here to break down the fantasy football implications of the deal.

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It always seemed more probable than not that JuJu Smith-Schuster would find his way to Kansas City in free agency. The Chiefs were interested in him last season, and the landing spot is perfect to revive Smith-Schuster’s fantasy stock. He’s just one year removed from a WR17 finish in PPR between two injury-plagued seasons.

Let’s not forget JuJu had an elite sophomore campaign – 1,400-plus receiving yards – and he is still just 25 years old. With Byron Pringle gone to Chicago, and Patrick Mahomes his new quarterback, 2022 will be a return to form for Smith-Schuster.

He can operate from his natural position in the slot and benefit from playing with elite playmakers around him. After all, Smith-Schuster was at his best as a Pittsburgh Steeler during his first two seasons playing opposite of Antonio Brown.
– Andrew Erickson

JuJu Smith-Schuster truthers have been telling themselves that JuJu could be a difference maker again if only he landed in the right spot. Well, Kansas City is a pretty favorable landing spot. In fact, Smith-Schuster should have signed with the Chiefs last year but instead chose to return to the Steelers on a one-year deal.

Smith-Schuster now gets to play with a premier quarterback, Patrick Mahomes. The last time JuJu was paired with a decent quarterback was 2018, Ben Roethlisberger’s last good year. Big Ben missed most of 2019 due to injury, and the Steelers had to muddle through that season with Mason Rudolph and Duck Hodges filling in at quarterback. In 2020 and 2021, Roethlisberger was a shadow of his former self. Now, Smith-Schuster gets to play with perhaps the best passer in the game.

With Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce around, JuJu won’t see anything close to the 166 targets he drew back in 2018, when it seemed like he was ticketed for stardom. He’ll be a third wheel for the Chiefs, but being the No. 3 option in one of the NFL’s most prolific passing attacks isn’t all bad. If Hill and Kelce stay healthy all year, Smith-Schuster will probably be capped at about 75 catches and 900 yards. That would probably put him in high-end WR3 range (assuming he stays healthy himself). If Hill or Kelce were to miss significant time, the target spillover could push JuJu into WR2 territory.

There’s been debate in the fantasy community about whether Smith-Schuster is actually good. It seems funny that his talent would ever be called into question after he turned in an 111-catch, 1,426-yard season at age 22, but injuries (both his own and Roethlisberger’s) and the overall deterioration of the Pittsburgh passing game thwarted JuJu’s ascent the last three years. Yes, the presence of Antonio Brown no doubt helped Smith-Schuster in his first two seasons, since Brown commanded so much defensive attention. If indeed JuJu does his best work as a supporting player, well, he’s in the right place. His limited route tree and short-area skills should play well in Kansas City, where Hill is the designated lid lifter and Kelce is the seam splitter.

Smith-Schuster is a five-year veteran, and yet he’s still only 25. He won’t turn 26 until late November. Improved health and a better situation should once again make him a desirable fantasy asset. Superstardom might be off the table, but JuJu can still be a useful fantasy asset.
– Pat Fitzmaurice

Other Newsworthy Transactions

And don’t miss the rest of our takeaways from all of the recent news:

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