Top 3 Receiver? The Case for Juju Smith-Schuster [Making the Leap]

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Making the Leap

JuJu Smith- Schuster

6’1”

215 LBs

Age: 22

4.54 40 Yard Dash

JuJu Smith-Schuster is already a star. Breaking out at the tail end of his rookie season, JuJu has already established himself as a top ten receiver in the NFL. While it seems like JuJu has been in the league for years, he is only a third year receiver. Regardless of how good he already is, he has the potential to be much better. Will the Make the Leap into being a Top 3 Wide Receiver in 2019?

Player Profile

JuJu stands at 6’1” and weighs in at 215 LBs. With a 4.54 40 Second Yard Dash, JuJu is not one of the most physically dominating receivers in the league. What he does excel at, however, is making contested catches, route running, making yards after the catch, finding soft sports in zone coverage, and providing the grit and passion that is necessary to thrive in the NFL.  You can’t measure heart, but you can definitely see it in JuJu’s game every time he takes the field. His awareness and knowledge of the game gives him allows him to find open spots in zone coverage and win leverage in man coverage. JuJu also possesses a great chemistry with Ben Roethlisberger that became more evident as the 2018 season progressed. His talent and opportunity with the Steelers has put JuJu in a position to thrive in the NFL.

2018 Review

If JuJu became an online sensation his rookie season, he became an NFL Star in his sophomore season. Juju was a monster in 2018, notching 111 receptions for 1426 yards and 7 total touchdowns. Thought of as Antonio Brown’s understudy coming into the 2018 season, he proved to be more of an equal to Brown than his understudy. In Fantasy, he finished as the WR9 in standard leagues. He was an explosive option that offered great value after being drafted in the third round of most fantasy leagues. On the football field, he was a headache for opposing cornerbacks and defensive coordinators who had to figure out how to neutralize them without letting Antonio Brown shred them as well. His yards after the catch are what truly stood out, as 587 of his 1426 yards came after the catch. JuJu was also a preferred Red Zone target for Big Ben and the Steelers, having a 31.2% target share in the Red Zone, good for 6th in the league. His ability to identify the highest point of the ball and his ability to catch contested catches led to him catching 16 red zone receptions, a total that was 2nd in the league. JuJu certainly made a huge leap in 2019, but how much more of a leap can he make?

2019 Outlook

JuJu Smith is poised for an absolute monster year in 2019. With Antonio Brown due to be traded in the offseason, JuJu will become the biggest weapon in an offense that is historically very good at getting the ball to its number one receiver. One of the only knocks on JuJu is his weekly volatility, as he was fantasy’s 14th most volatile Wide Receiver in the league. Part of that had to do with Antonio Brown’s presence in the offense. On days where JuJu got shut down, Brown would explode for 20+ points. With Brown notching 15 touchdowns in 2019, JuJu has the opportunity to increase his own touchdown totals significantly. His 166 targets will likely stay around the same as well. If JuJu is able to limit his drops and keep his abilities after the catch, JuJu is primed to make a MONSTER leap in 2019. Yes, JuJu will face more elite coverage and lose the protection of Antonio Brown. But JuJu is too talented to disappear and too talented not to take another leap. Expect JuJu to explode in 2019 and finish as a Top 3WR in 2019.

Projection– High End WR1, Top 3 Receiver

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