Reasonable Expectations For Jaxon Smith-Njigba

People are very excited about Jaxon Smith-Njigba. I know I am! I like to think I have a sixth sense about wide receivers that the Seahawks draft. I was a HUGE fan of Tyler Lockett, even before he turned pro. I loved the D.K. Metcalf selection, both for value and potential. I remember being pretty high on Golden Tate, and even though he took a while to fully blossom, it was all worth it in the end.

And I’m very firmly in the camp of the Jaxon Smith-Njigba believers.

But, I think people – especially fantasy football people – need to temper expectations a little bit, especially in his rookie season. There’s a reason why the Seahawks are considered to have one of the best wide receiver rooms in the league. That’s because D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett were already one of the best wide receiver duos in the league. Now you add Smith-Njigba to the mix, and this has the potential to be an extremely dynamic passing game.

That being said, there are only so many targets to go around. Even in the most pass-happy offenses, how much production does the third receiver get? Who was the guy in Kansas City after Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce (before Hill’s trade to Miami)? In 2019, it was Sammy Watkins with 90 targets (52 receptions). In 2020, it was Mecole Hardman with 62 targets (41 receptions). In 2021, it was Hardman again with 83 targets (59 receptions). Going around the league, can anyone even name the third receiving option for the Bills? How has Tyler Boyd fared with the Bengals the last couple years? The Rams of late can barely field a SECOND receiving option after Kupp, let alone a third.

Now you have to factor how much the Seahawks like to run the ball. Some people would say they’re run-heavy. Others would say they’re balanced. I would liken the Seahawks to a slow-it-down sort of offense that prefers to limit possessions and bleed opponents with a thousand cuts. Not that I’m the first person to make than distinction, I’m sure.

The point is, third receivers already get overlooked by design. Now you want to put him on the Seahawks?

I don’t see Smith-Njigba as a viable fantasy option in 2023 whatsoever. Maybe take a flier on him late in the draft and bank on an injury to Metcalf or Lockett. If you’re in a dynasty league, I think there’s a little more meat on that bone, but you don’t want to go into this season wanting to depend on production out of him.

I’m guessing Smith-Njigba will have somewhere around 45 receptions for 512 yards and 3 touchdowns. Even in PPR, that’s nothing. That’s less than 7 fantasy points per game. But, for dynasty purposes, Lockett isn’t getting any younger, so I could see those numbers grow considerably in the next 2-3 years.

But, let’s put fantasy football aside now. What does he mean from a team-building perspective? As a Seahawks fan, did we use our draft capital wisely?

I say 100% yes! If Jaxon Smith-Njigba is as talented as he projects to be, the value of a high-quality third receiver is immeasurable. That’s one more elite athlete a defense has to worry about. If the best opposing cornerback is going to clamp down on D.K., you can interchange Lockett and Smith-Njigba in the slot or on the other side and create tons of mismatches. You can line them all up in a bunch formation and wait for the defense to make a coverage mistake. If teams double D.K. and Lockett is covered, then you’re talking about the 4th-best corner trying to keep up with Smith-Njigba.

Every time he makes a huge catch on third down, every time he moves the chains, that’s one more feather in the cap of Smith-Njigba being a great draft pick for this team. On top of everything else: the need for depth, injury insurance, and so on.

I think Seahawks fans are going to be elated to have Jaxon Smith-Njigba on their team. But, fantasy football players might not be super thrilled, as is our lot in life.

But that brings up a broader point: how good are the rest of the Seahawks for fantasy purposes?

It still blows my mind that Geno Smith was a value-add to a playoff team in the NFL. It blows my mind even more that he was also a Top 5 fantasy quarterback. Granted, I would say there’s a significant drop-off from the Top 4, but still, that’s impressive.

I guess it depends on where you get them, but if Seahawks players are going to be undervalued, there’s definitely an argument to be made that stacking these guys – Geno Smith, D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Kenneth Walker, and Zach Charbonnet – while keeping Smith-Njigba as a late-round insurance pick, could be a recipe for success. You might not get as many touchdowns from Geno as you’d like, but he’s also going to limit turnovers with the best of ’em. You know where his targets are going. I’m keeping Walker in my dynasty league without hesitation, but I think it might be wise to handcuff him with the rookie just in case. Given how the Seahawks have suffered with running back injuries since Beastmode left town the first time, it’s just a fact of life at this point.

I think I’ve long lived under the impression that the Seahawks’ passing game is to be avoided in fantasy. Oh sure, Russell Wilson was great, but going after his receivers felt like a fool’s errand with the way he spread the ball around. But, these Seahawks go target heavy on the top two guys, which is right where you want it. Give your best players as many opportunities to make plays as possible!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *