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JuJu Smith-Schuster to Patriots: Fantasy Football Impact (2023 NFL Free Agency)

The New England Patriots are reportedly losing WR Jakobi Meyers to the Las Vegas Raiders in free agency, but they are adding former Steelers and Chiefs WR JuJu Smith-Schuster to their receiving corps. In his lone season in Kansas City, Smith-Schuster caught 78 of his 101 targets for 933 yards and two touchdowns. The deal is for three years and $33 million, according to a report from Sports Illustrated.

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Patriots Sign JuJu Smith-Schuster

The Patriots are bringing Tik Tok popularity to Foxborough. Juju Smith-Schuster has agreed to a three-year deal with the team to fill the vacated throne of Jakobi Meyers. Smith-Schuster had a solid season last year in one of the best offenses in the NFL, but it wasn’t outstanding by any stretch. He was the WR35 in fantasy points per game, drawing a 17.4% target share (46th) and 16.9% air yard share (70th).

Smith-Schuster was 38th in PFF receiving grade and 35th in yards per route run, as his ability to still beat zone coverage is his main calling card these days (minimum 50 targets per PFF). Smith-Schuster was 17th in PFF, receiving grade (75.9) and ninth in yards per route run (2.18 per PFF) against zone coverage, but his numbers against man coverage have fallen off a cliff. He was 45th in PFF receiving grade (65.7) and 44th in yards per route run (1.30 per PFF minimum 20 man and zone coverage targets) last year with Kansas City.

Smith-Schuster should fill Jakobi Meyers’ role in the offense as the Z in two wide sets and the slot option when they utilize three or more wide receivers. Last year Smith-Schuster played the lowest percentage of snaps from the slot (42.1%) of his career while proving he can still be an effective player after the catch. He ranked 11th in YAC per reception (5.5), with his highest mark in this metric since 2019. Smith-Schuster is a WR3/4.

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