Call it a breakout or call it a bounce back, Smith-Schuster is a skilled receiver that has landed in a spot that will give him every opportunity to have a big season. Best Ball is about finding players that can smash their ADP. If Smith-Schuster is available after the sixth round and he returns to his position as a top-20 fantasy wide receiver, that will help make a deep run in Best Ball tournaments.
Track his current APD and RDP in the Stokastic Best Ball Draft Kit. Plus, Underdog is giving users a $100 deposit match bonus, which includes Stokastic’s season-long Best Ball package for the offseason.
2022 Best Ball Fantasy Football Breakout Wide Receivers
Smith-Schuster’s 2021 Results
Smith-Schuster got hit by the injury train in 2021, forcing him to miss the 12 games after Week 5. Now 10 months removed from shoulder surgery and in Kansas City, the upside for Smith-Schuster shouldn’t be understated. The Chiefs trading away Tyreek Hill a week after Smith-Schuster arrived shows how high the expectations are for him.
Due to the injury, one must look past Smith-Schuster’s 2021 numbers for the most part. However, he did play five games with the soon-to-be-retired, Ben Roethlisberger. In 2021, Roethlisberger was second from the bottom in average completed air yards per attempt — less than 4.3 yards. He was also second from the bottom in average intended air yards per attempt — 6.7 yards. Roethlisberger ended the season 26th in passer rating. Based on these numbers, it makes sense that Smith-Schuster wasn’t putting up league-winning numbers in the games he did play.
Smith Schuster’s 2022 Opportunity
Does Smith-Schuster have the skills to step into the Hill Role for Patrick Mahomes this season? He has shown that he has the skill set. Comparing Hill’s best fantasy year (2018) to Smith-Schuster’s best fantasy year (2018), Smith-Schuster has the edge. That year, Smith-Schuster led all wide receivers in yards after catch with 648. He topped Hill by 121 yards and beat him in many other receiving categories.
Smith-Schuster’s history as a slot receiver will line up quite nicely with the Chiefs offense. In 2021, Mahomes targeted a slot receiver 71.5% of the time. In 2020, Smith-Schuster’s led the league in slot targets. Combined with his ability to rack up yards after the catch, he has a good shot to land in the upper end of his outcome range.
How will Smith-Schuster fit in the Chiefs’ wide receiver core?
The addition of Marquez Valdes-Scantling to the Chiefs roster shouldn’t concern Smith-Schuster owners too much. Valdes-Scantling can line up where Smith-Schuster isn’t, and he split his 2021 targets 50/50 between slot and wide.
Mecole Hardman has played as Hill’s backup over the past three seasons and will get the first crack at filling Hill’s shoes. Over his career, Hardman has a catch rate of 67% and 9.6 yards per catch. But with only one career game with over 100 yards, it’s unlikely he secures the spot as the featured receiver over Smith-Schuster or Valdes-Scantling.
Rookie Skyy Moore is a bit smaller than league average and had a top-10 40-yard dash time among receivers at the 2022 draft combine. Expect his route tree to look more like Hill’s than Smith-Schuster’s.
There are a lot of hands to throw at in Kansas City, but they throw the ball a ton, last year racking up over 1,000 more yards passing than the Steelers. In a division that will have a lot of high-scoring games, Smith-Schuster will have the chance to rack up some big fantasy weeks. Hardman had six double-digit fantasy weeks in 2021 as the WR3 for the Chiefs, and Smith-Schuster has the skills to outpace that number this season.
Smith-Schuster’s 2022 Range of Outcomes
Projecting Smith-Schuster’s 2022 range of outcomes is going to require numbers from several sources. Given Vegas’s prediction for Mahomes’ passing numbers and placing Smith-Schuster in a range of between 15% and 25% of Kansas City’s receiving numbers, he would fall between Travis Kelce and Hardman in the 2021 passing distribution for the Chiefs. The chart below puts Smith-Schuster’s range of fantasy point outcomes below the numbers that Kelce put up last season.
Conclusion and CTA: Ranks and Projections
Coming out of the free agency, Smith-Schuster has landed in a great spot with a high ceiling. He’s on a one-year “prove-it” contract with Kansas City, a team where he is getting a solid quarterback upgrade.
The big question is, can he get back to the numbers he was putting up in his first two years in the league? Smith-Schuster had two of the most prolific rookie and sophomore years ever put up by a wide receiver. The Chiefs were second in pass attempts and completions last season, and they give Smith-Schuster a chance to look like the Smith-Schuster from four years ago.
His current RDP in the Stokastic Best Ball Draft Kit is 66. Here is a chance to draft a receiver in the middle of the fifth round that could provide top-20 receiver numbers in 2022.
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