Player: Juju Smith-Schuster
Weight: 215 lbs.
Between gaming and dancing, Juju is one of the top guys in an exceptionally talented free agent wide receiver class. Juju is the prototypical big slot possession receiver who DOMINATES in the RedZone. You may have seen recent reports discussing Juju potentially landing in LV Raiders, NY Jets, and even resigning with Pittsburgh.
This article is to identify a couple landing spots and whether we like or dislike them. To give some background as to why we think these spots are plus or minus, you must understand where Juju excels. He was #4 in RedZone targets behind Davante Adams, Adam Theilen, and Calvin Ridley who finished WR 1, 10, and 4, respectively. He was also tied with Allen Robinson and Mike Evans in RedZone targets who finished as WR 12 and 11, respectively. He is in elite company regarding fantasy finishes relationship to RedZone targets. This is just to show you that Juju is getting RedZone targets comparable to some elite WR and if he lands in the right spot, he could potentially be a WR1.
Now let us look at some other very intriguing statistics associated with Juju’s game.
· Slot Snaps: 711 (1st)
· Slot Targets: 103 (1st)
· Fantasy Points per target from the slot: 11.64 (1st)
· Catch Percentage: 78.6% (5th among WR with more than 50 targets)
There is a lot of “leads the league” or first among WR in the list above. Juju is at his best when working out of the slot. So, when we discuss landing spots, we need to understand what offenses and what QB’s favor the slot WR. Below is a list of teams who target the slot WR in 2020:
In contrast the offenses who targeted the slot the least in 2020 is as follows:
So, let us decipher what we know about a few of these teams and why Juju would/should consider these teams. There are some clear, what I will call, “no go’s” that we just will not discuss like Dallas, KC, NE, Minnesota, and Cleveland but let us think about some of the other possibilities.
117 of Chicago’s slot targets went to Anthony Miller and Allen Robinson. There is a high degree of likelihood that ARob takes his talent elsewhere, and Anthony Miller is not the answer. There will be 88 vacated slot targets assuming all FA WR leave in the offseason, those 88 coupled with even a fraction of what Anthony Miller got could result in a substantial workload for Juju. The question mark here is who will be captaining the offense? We have seen productive WRs in Chicago with Mitchell Trubisky at the helm. Could he bring Juju to a WR1 finish? It is within the realm of possibility.
Outcome: 160 targets, 119 Receptions, 1071 Yards, 6 TD (appx. 262 PPR points – Good for WR10)
Logan Thomas was the dominant force in the slot role in Washington last year. He is not moving anywhere which leaves 132 targets. McLaurin will continue to get his and is good for 40 plus from the slot position. Now we are down to 92. That volume is like what Juju got in Pittsburgh last year but was only good enough to get a finish of 24 and that is with 9 TD’s. Thinking of the $38 million cap space that Washington has along with F1 to stretch the field and Logan Thomas taking some slot snaps, Juju’s volume could be limited but be a solid WR 2 for your team.
Outcome: 115 targets, 90 Receptions, 902 yards, 8 TD’s (appx. 228 PPR points – Good for WR18)
Let us assume the Deshaun Watson stays with Houston and does not sit out for this one. Do I really need to say anything about this spot?! Watson will produce with anyone and if you are open, he will find you. If Cooks maintains his slot target share, Juju could get 100 plus targets (102 between all WR not named Cooks). 100 slot targets from Deshaun Watson is straight fire especially with the RedZone TD upside.
Outcome: 158 targets, 125 Receptions, 1497 yards, 10 TD’s (appx. 334 PPR points – Good for WR2)
In 2019, Jared Goff targeted his coveted WR’s Kupp and Woods 150 times for a stat line of 102/1390/6 and in 2020, 133 times for a stat line of 109/1037/5. In Detroit with Jared Goff, there will be no competition for slot snaps outside of TJ Hockenson and he only garnered 35 targets from the slot out of the 163 that were thrown. Another key to this addition is new Offensive Coordinator Anthony Lynn. His coaching career in the NFL has only ever led to a top 10 passing offense every year, even in his year in Buffalo in 2016. If the Lions are looking to rebuild signing a young stud slot WR like Juju to go along with their new QB could be a valuable move in the long term.
Outcome: 129 targets, 110 Receptions, 1290 yards, 7 TD’s (appx. 281 PPR points – Good for WR6)
Las Vegas Raiders
The offense in LV is not super aggressive and I believe this will limit the upside of Juju. Derek Carr criminally underutilizes the slot position. Darren Waller is the WR1 in LV with 146 targets. He will get his. To go with this Derek Carr was 14th in attempts in both 2020 (517) and 2019 (513). Juju’s value as discussed at the beginning of this article is RedZone TD upside. With Josh Jacobs and Darren Waller, along with one of my loves, Bryan Edwards, I worry that the TD upside is going to be low.
Outcome: 120 targets, 95 catches, 758 yards, 5 TD’s (appx. 200 PPR points – Good for WR29)