The New England Patriots needed to change their offense after a disappointing 2022 season. They let their leading receiver Jakobi Meyers walk in free agency and sign with the Raiders. Instead, they chose to bring in Juju Smith-Schuster for the same money. He now comes to New England after winning a SuperBowl with the Kansas City Chiefs and trying to revitalize his career after some disappointing seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers. What does his signing mean for his value and the rest of the Patriots’ offense?
Juju Smith-Schuster- Stock up
Smith-Schuster walks into the New England locker room and is instantly their number-one receiver. Nelson Agholor is a free agent, and with Jakobi Meyers gone, the other receivers in the room are Tyquan Thornton, DeVante Parker, and Kendrick Bourne. Combined, they had 88 receptions, 1,220 yards, and six touchdowns in 2022. Juju had 78 receptions, 933 yards, and three touchdowns, and he missed a game. Smith-Schuster was the number one wide receiver last year on the Chiefs on the depth chart, but in games, he was the second option behind tight end Travis Kelce. He now has a chance to be the true alpha of a team.
The Patriots aren’t known as a pass-heavy team, but there are reasons to be excited about what Juju can do in the offense. He should slide into the role that Meyers had. Meyers played 69.5% of his snaps in the slot. Juju played 42.1% from the slot last season with the Chiefs. He has a more versatile skill set and route tree compared to Meyers, and his ability to line out wide should allow head coach Bill Belichick to design plays to get him in the best coverage. Meyers last season had 96 targets, 67 receptions, 804 yards, and six touchdowns in only 14 games. It’s solid, consistent production from that spot.
He signed a three-year deal with the Patriots. We don’t know the specific details regarding cap hit or if it is front-loaded, but he could be there for the next few seasons. He is only 26 years old and entering his seventh season. He has plenty left in the tank. In every season where Smith-Schuster has played 14 or more games, he has never finished outside of WR30. He probably lacks the truly high-end upside, but he should be considered an every-week play on your team.
Mac Jones- Stock up
Jones struggled last season, partly due to the patriots not having an offensive coordinator and partly due to injury. He still finished as the QB23 in fantasy after playing in only 14 games. The Patriots brought in Bill O’Brien to run the offense, and now Smith-Schuster. It gives Jones a true weapon on the field which can be created space. The Patriots still need to round out the rest of the receiving room, but Juju is a step in the right direction. He is a sure-handed receiver. He caught 77% of his passes last season and is at 70% in his career. Compare that to Meyers, who was at 69% last year and 68% in his career.
It’s a clear upgrade for Jones. If Jones gets a full season, he should easily be able to outdo his 14 touchdowns from this past year and get back to and possibly surpass his rookie season, where he had 22 touchdowns. In that season, he was QB14. He could be a solid buy-in dynasty. There are some fears that Bailey Zappe could come in and take over, so there are reasons his draft and trade cost is lower. With Juju catching passes, he should be able to put up enough production in an O’Brien offense to hold on to the job.
Make sure you subscribe to the #NerdHerd, where you get exclusive content, dynasty/rookie/devy rankings, buy/sell tool, and a bonus podcast too. Dynasty Nerds also recently launched the #DynastyGM tool, a complete game-changer in the fantasy industry. Click here for a free trial. We truly are your one-stop shop for all your fantasy football needs!