Fantasy Impact – Smith-Schuster Back with Pittsburgh

Back with our latest fantasy impact article, we take a look at Juju Smith-Schuster going back to Pittsburgh. There are a few different elements to unpack with this signing, so let’s get into it!

Receiving Competition

The Steelers boast one of the best groups in the league, with Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool both impressing last season. Johnson led the group with 144 targets, but it was Smith-Schuster who led the group in receptions with 97.

The reason being that he has returned to where he has excelled- the slot. The way the team have operated their offense, Johnson and Claypool operate as downfield threats, and Smith-Schuster offers a closer target if needed. That switch in offensive style led him to recording an average of just 8.6 yards per reception. That could increase, but I wouldn’t expect it to make a jump up to the previous marks in his career.

Impact on Others

Johnson & Claypool

The good thing about Smith-Schuster going back to Pittsburgh, is we know to some level the fantasy impact on the other receivers. There should be plenty of targets to go around, with the Steelers being one of the most pass-happy teams in the league.

All three receivers were able to operate aside on another with good results. Given that the players operate in completely different areas of the field, this shouldn’t have much (if any) impact on the other receivers. It could limit the TD upside of them, with the Smith-Schuster being a strong receiver in that area of the field, but that’s splitting hairs.

Each of Johnson, Claypool and Smith-Schuster could get over 100 targets and there still be enough for the other pieces of the offense.

Ben Roethlisberger

The biggest impact is on Roethlisberger, who enters this season with all of the receiving options that he had last season. It’s not the fact that he wouldn’t be able to have success with another player, but he already has familiarity with him as a receiver.

2021 Outlook

Smith-Schuster is likely to be a great PPR option, with him able to complete a number of short-yardage receptions. He should be a consistent receiver in that regard, but he won’t be a league winner for you- unless his ADP just falls off a cliff. Currently I have him as a lower-end WR3 this season in 0.5 PPR leagues.

For dynasty, you might have a selling window. However, I’m worried about him only being offered a one-year deal. He could struggle to find a similar role on a new team. What I’d find out is if there is an owner of one of the other receivers that is worried by the resigning and is willing to move them on.

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Image Credit: Jake Roth – USA TODAY Sports