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Odds Favor JuJu Smith-Schuster Posting Less Than 1,375 Receiving Yards in 2019

JuJu Smith-Schuster
JuJu Smith-Schuster is now the top receiving option for Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers. Photo from @Steelers (Twitter).
  • 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 Bovada’s latest odds involving Pittsburgh’s newest top receiving option.

JuJu Smith-Schuster Receiving Yards Odds

Total Receiving Yards Odds at Bovada
Over 1,375 +120
Under 1,375 -150

*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.

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.

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

Year Receiver Total NFL Rank
2018 JuJu Smith-Schuster 1,426 5th
2017 Antonio Brown 1,533 1st
2016 Antonio Brown 1,284 5th

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.

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.

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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