- JuJu Smith-Schuster led the Steelers in receiving yards in his second season
- Incumbent All-Pro Antonio Brown dealt to Raiders in offseason
- What side of the line should you lay your wager on?
There’s an Antonio Brown-sized shadow hanging over sportsbooks’ latest odds involving Pittsburgh’s newest top receiving option.
JuJu Smith-Schuster Receiving Yards Odds
|Total Receiving Yards||Odds|
*Odds from 17/08/19
After breaking out in his second season, JuJu Smith-Schuster finds himself as the de facto top weapon for the Steelers offense and veteran pivot Ben Roethlisberger. Is the 22-year-old ready to step into the realm of the elite class of receivers?
Smith-Schuster had a Season
When thinking of storylines to describe the Steelers last year, what Smith-Schuster did on the field took a back seat to the season-long Le’Veon Bell holdout and the bubbling Antonio Brown volatility that finally started boiling over in Week 17.
JuJu Smith-Schuster's 11 100-receiving yard games are tied as the 4th-most in
NFL history in a player's first two seasons, while his 169 catches are 5th-most and his 2,343 receiving yards are 10th-most. pic.twitter.com/yubdLFP9h9
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) January 19, 2019
Lost among that was one of the great receiving years in franchise history. Smith-Schuster joined Brown and Hall-of-Famer Hines Ward as the only players in Black and Yellow to surpass 110 receptions in a single season. His 1,426 yards was not only fifth-best in the NFL in 2018, it’s the only season to crack the top-5 in the franchise besides Brown.
JuJu Smith-Schuster is very close to becoming a rock star, if he hasn’t already. Fans can’t get enough. pic.twitter.com/pWiRMI3AuT
— Mike Prisuta (@DVEMike) August 16, 2019
Can he follow it up? The answer lies in whether you believe that he is in the elite class of receivers. The 2010 season saw just two receivers break the 1,375-yard mark to last year, when nine players surpassed it – the highest number this decade. Players to do it more than once in that span is a who’s-who of top receivers this era: Brown, Julio Jones, DeAndre Hopkins, Odell Beckham Jr, Demariyus Thomas, Andre Johnson, Brandon Marshall and Calvin Johnson.
Steelers Receiving Yards Leaders
The Brown Factor
Say what you want about AB’s antics off the field (and abrasiveness to his own teammates at times on it), but Brown delivered every year, in what is surely one of the great runs of receiving excellence in NFL history.
Antonio Brown vs Juju Smith-Schuster
Who do you think will have the better season?
— FantasyData (@FantasyDataNFL) August 8, 2019
That magnet of a weapon forced defenses to account for him on every down, and scheme to ensure that he didn’t burn them to the ground on every possession. But he’s now in Oakland, and defensive coordinators can focus their attention on Smith-Schuster in the passing game.
.@steelers @JamesWashington with an awesome 2019 debut v @Buccaneers . No one should EVER doubt the #Steelers ability to draft wide receivers. Does any team do it better over a longer period of time. Washington has everything it takes to be a great one. #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/Nk1iXeA8t0
— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) August 10, 2019
Free agent addition Donte Moncrief will play opposite Smith-Schuster. His best season in his five-year career is 68 catches for 733 yards and six TD’s in 2015 with the Colts. And Ryan Switzer, Eli Rogers and James Washington went for 68 receptions, 549 yards and two TDs combined last season. Someone will need to up their game in 2019.
What’s the Best Bet to Make?
While losing Brown and already having had to learn about life without Bell, Smith-Schuster still has Roethlisberger, who led the league in passing yards last season, topping the 5,000 mark.
In the new pass-happy NFL, the Steelers are one of the NFL’s most prolific passing teams, ranking in the top-five in pass yards per game since 2014. While Brown played a large part in that, I’m willing to wager that the system in place and their ability to curate able receivers all over the field can lift JuJu back to those lofty receiving heights.
The pick: Over 1,375 (+120)
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