The New England Patriots have long been known for taking on veteran wide receivers and trying to make them fit within the confines of their offense. This laundry list includes the likes of Randy Moss, Brandon LaFell, Brandin Cooks, Josh Gordon, Phillip Dorsett, Donte Stallworth, DeVante Parker, Chad Johnson, and a whole host of others. This has come with varying levels of success, but New England tends to prefer adding established receivers rather than trying to develop their own. As such, signing former Steelers and Chiefs wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster to a three-year deal seems pretty par for the course. The signing has some dynasty impact, so let’s review the players involved.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR NE
As many Steelers wide receivers tend to do, Smith-Schuster started out slowly his rookie season, catching just 58 passes for 917 yards and scoring seven times. However, his 2018 season was an absolute monster as he posted a 111/1,426/7 campaign and became one of the hottest assets in all of dynasty leagues. Unfortunately, his next few seasons in Pittsburgh just didn’t hold the same magic as he battled through injuries, inconsistency, and a revolving door at quarterback.
Smith-Schuster landed in Kansas City last year in free agency and had a pretty nice bounce back season with 78 catches for 933 yards and three scores, highlighted by the Super Bowl win where he led the Chiefs with seven catches.
Now in New England, Smith-Schuster suddenly finds himself back in the saddle as the top target on a team, at least for the time being. He’ll be asked to man the slot and likely move around the formation a bit to give quarterback Mac Jones a nice safety valve to work with. In short, It’s rare when a player would leave Kansas City and have more value somewhere else, but this could be the case with Smith-Schuster who all of a sudden looks like the top target for an NFL team. The Patriots are likely not done adding their skill position players, but this looks like a decent move for Smith-Schuster for the time being. His ranking of WR40 and his accompanying ADP should both go up in the short-term.
DeVante Parker, WR NE
For those of us who have played in dynasty leagues for any amount of time, Parker is truly one of the most maddening players to have on your roster. On one hand, he has undeniable talent and a skill set few can match. On the other, he has terrible bouts of inconsistency and tends to be always battling some kind of a minor injury.
After seven up and down years in Miami, Parker signed with New England last season and responded with just 31 catches for 539 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games played. At this point in his career, Parker is what he is – a player who can still have hot streaks during a given season, but not one you can really count on. His situation doesn’t change much with Smith-Schuster taking over for the departed Jakobi Meyers. When you start thinking of 2023 roster cloggers, Parker is looking like he belongs squarely on that list.
Kendrick Bourne, WR NE
Bourne has had his moments in New England after a relatively interesting first four years in San Francisco. However, he’s just never shown enough juice or consistency to really look at as more than a weekly flier in fantasy leagues. He could emerge with injuries ahead of him, but he’s a tough player to roster at the moment, especially with New England likely adding to the receiver room in the coming weeks and months.
Tyquan Thornton, WR NE
The Patriots stunned the world last year when they took Thornton in the second round of the NFL Draft. In the end, the presumed reach of a draft looked to be justified as Thornton posted only 22 catches for 247 yards and two scores. Still, he’s young and currently the only real exciting dynasty stash within the Patriots receiving corps. He’s a dynasty hold at the moment, but we’re going to need to see more this season to justify holding on to him for much longer in dynasty leagues.
Mac Jones, QB NE
The Patriots simply have to add more weapons to see what they have in Jones. Adding Smith-Schuster is certainly a good start, but if that’s the end, it’s hard to see how Jones has ever really had a fair shot to be truly successful in New England. Smith-Schuster will provide a target soaking player who helps in the middle of the field, but the Patriots badly need some explosive options in their offense.
NFL Draft Wide Receivers
This year’s class features players like Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Quentin Johnston, Jordan Addison, Zay Flowers, Josh Downs, and Jalin Hyatt, just to name a few. While they traditionally don’t like to draft receivers highly in back-to-back drafts, you have to figure they’re in the market here. Stay tuned.
Chiefs Wide Receivers
Kansas City suddenly looks to be in the market as well. With a depth chart that includes the likes of Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Kadarius Toney, Skyy Moore, and Justyn Ross, you have to figure there are more moves coming from Kansas City as well. At this point, you have to like the values of Moore, and MVS, specifically. However, this depth chart just has to change soon.