One of the top free agent wide receivers has locked in a new contract with a familiar team. As JuJu Smith-Schuster re-signs with the Pittsburgh Steelers for one more season, what kind of impact does it have on his fantasy outlook?
JuJu settled for a 1-year contract worth $8 million, apparently turning down larger contracts from rival AFC teams. This deal comes as a surprise for many reasons, but especially looking at the dollar amount. In 2021, Smith-Schuster will be paid on par with Randall Cobb ($9 million) and Cole Beasley ($7.25 million). The contract fell well below the estimated market value of $16.1 million, per Spotrac.
JuJu’s Fantasy Outlook
Smith-Schuster put up solid numbers in his first two seasons in Pittsburgh. In fact, his production was elite in 2017 and 2018.
Unfortunately, the past two seasons have been more disappointing. Fantasy managers expected a rebound in 2020 after JuJu dealt with injuries and poor quarterback play in 2019. Instead, JuJu experienced a career-low average depth of target (5.5) and yards per target (6.5), as his usage began to trend towards shallow routes from the slot.
The hope was that a quarterback with a more ‘live’ arm would help return JuJu closer to his career usage before 2020. In his first three seasons, JuJu’s yards per target exceeded 9.1. Instead, Smith-Schuster returns to Pittsburgh in 2021 with Ben Roethlisberger at the helm for another season.
JuJu Smith-Schuster may see his fantasy upside is capped within the Steelers offense, but he’s still a heavily targeted receiver with good red-zone usage. As such, he likely remains a low-end WR2 for fantasy in 2021.