NFL bettors and those that partake in fantasy football are going to get a chance to see just how good a player JuJu Smith-Schuster is now that Antonio Brown bolted the Steel City for the warmer climate of the west coast. The Steelers premiere pass catcher flourished in his second go round in the NFL by reeling in a team-high 111 receptions and turning them into 1,426 yards and 7 TD. One of the reasons he was able to do it was because he got to line up in the slot against opposing defenses lesser cover men. This time around however, he’ll run up against the best of the best and likely be forced to change his game up a bit due to taking on numerous double teams. That hasn’t stopped online sportsbook linemakers from branding him with one of the highest receiving yard totals on the board heading into the regular season. The betting markets don’t look to be convinced however with heavy chalk currently riding the under of that impost.
Total Rushing Yards: 1300.5
With Ben Roethlisberger under center and one of the best pass blocking offensive lines in the business keeping him upright, it comes as no surprise to routinely see the Steelers looking to the pass more than 30 other teams in the league. Only the Green Bay Packers threw the pigskin more than the black and yellow last season. That bodes well for JuJu should Pittsburgh replicate or even improve upon its 67.4 passing play percentage of a year ago.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were the only team in the league to throw for more passing yards per game than the Steelers, and it’s pretty safe to assume Randy Fichtner will once again be looking to his passing attack to get the job done in 2019-20. Especially with the O-Line only conceding 24 QB sacks which allowed for Big Ben to throw for the most yards of his professional career (5129).
Still, it might not come nearly as easy with a talent like AB no longer on the roster. For Smith-Schuster to surpass his lofty impost, someone else in the Steelers wide receiver corps will need to step up to take some of the pressure off him – I’m looking at you James Washington and Donte Moncrief!
Pittsburgh Steelers Football Schedule
Week 1: @Patriots
Week 2: Seahawks
Week 3: @49ers
Week 4: Bengals
Week 5: Ravens
Week 6: @Chargers
Week 7: Bye Week
Week 8: Dolphins
Week 9: Colts
Week 10: Rams
Week 11: @Browns
Week 12: @Bengals
Week 13: Browns
Week 14: @Cardinals
Week 15: Bills
Week 16: @Jets
Week 17: @Ravens
Gross is the best way to describe what lies before the Steelers wide receiver corps heading into the regular season. There’s a grand total of two plus-matchups on the docket when going by last season’s defensive outputs. The first comes in Week 3 at San Francisco with the last coming all the way in Week 16 at the Jets. Other than that, there isn’t one matchup for Smith-Schuster and the rest of the Steelers’ pass catchers that they’ll have the advantage in.
There’s two matchups against the division rival Ravens who held JuJu to 138 scoreless yards in the pair of meetings last season, and then there’s the Chargers on the road, and the Colts and Bills at home. Each of those teams ranked out as some of the toughest stop units against opposing wide receivers last season. Then there’s two meetings against what looks to be a vastly improved Cleveland Browns defense as well as a home game against the Los Angeles Rams. This schedule is nothing short of nightmarish when you break it all down!
JuJu Smith-Schuster was a saving grace for my fantasy football team last season. His career year led me to a second straight title, and for that I owe him some gratitude. But this is a new season and I’m only looking to replenish my bankroll with some action in the futures market. I think buying into the third-year wide receiver building upon or replicating his breakout campaign of a year ago is foolish. He’s yet to be tested like he will this upcoming season, and I think the Steelers are going to have a tough time competing with the Browns and Ravens for division supremacy.
With Bell and Brown now out of the picture, their window to win another title in the Tomlin era has been slammed shut. The schedule is a bear and there isn’t a talent currently on the roster I have pegged as being able to play the role JuJu shined in last season. Sorry Pittsburgh backers, there’s just too much bad “JuJu” hovering around this franchise for me to believe Smith-Schuster will be able to overcome it.
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