1 Vs 1 Rookie WR Edition: JuJu Smith-Schuster Vs Cooper Kupp
In this series I'm going to compare two similarly ranked and drafted players putting them up against each other, and comparing them in a variety of categories such as quality of quarterback, draft pedigree, age, combine results, measurables, team passing attempts, snaps played, PFF grades, target percentage, and depth chart competition. In an attempt to determine which of the two players will be the superior dynasty asset. In this edition I'm going to compare two incredibly talented rookie wide receivers in JuJu Smith-Schuster and Cooper Kupp. Both players had phenomenal rookie campaigns and were heavily involved in their teams offense despite being rookies.
Both wide receivers had excellent 2017 seasons, JuJu caught 58 passes totaling 917 yards and 7 touchdowns on 79 targets, for an impressive 15.8 yards per reception. Kupp hauled in 62 passes for 869 yards and 5 touchdowns, averaging 14.0 yards per reception on his 94 targets. I have Smith-Schuster ranked as my 28th dynasty wide out, and Kupp ranked as my 27th overall wide receiver. As far as the quarterbacks who throw these two talented wide receivers the ball, Jared Goff had an incredible bounce back season after a terrible rookie year, but he has a long way to go to be on the same level with Ben Rothlisberger. Goff's impressive sophomore season was good enough for 18th overall according to PFF with a 79.8 grade. Rothlisberger graded out as the 3rd ranked quarterback with an 89.3 rating. I have them ranked closely with Ben as my 18th ranked dynasty quarterback and Goff ranked as my 16th overall quarterback, mostly due to age and the fact that Ben may retire at any given moment. Advantage: Smith-Schuster
When it comes to age, measurables, combine results, and draft pedigree, these two wide receivers have some considerable differences. To start with, JuJu is over three full years younger than Kupp is, with Kupp playing the 2018 season as a 25 year old and Smith-Schuster playing the majority of next season as a 21 year old. Kupp is the taller of the two wide receivers at 6'2 205 pounds, whereas Smith-Schuster is the heavier of the two being listed at 6'1 215 pounds. These 2 receivers had impressive days at the 2017 NFL scouting combine. Smith-Schuster outperformed Kupp in all three of the main combine events running a 4.54, 40, putting up a 120 inch broad jump and an a 32.5 inch vertical. Kupp managed to put up very respectable numbers during the combine as well running a 4.62, 40, with a 116 inch broad jump and a 31 inch vert. These two were selected very close to each other, as JuJu was taken with the 30th pick of the 2nd round, 62nd overall and Kupp was selected only 5 picks later 67th overall with the 5th pick of the 3rd round. Advantage: Smith-Schuster
Now lets take a look at these two from more of a team perspective, looking at each teams passing attempts, completion percentage, and teams passing play percentage. In 2017 Pittsburgh attempted 590 passes, completing 384 of them, with a 65.1% completion rate, throwing the ball 58.4% of the time. Last year the Rams threw the ball 518 times, completing 320 passes, with a 61.8 completion percentage, and passing on 54.6% of offensive plays. These two wide receivers both benefit from being their teams number two wide receivers behind Antonio Brown and Sammy Watkins allowing JuJu and Kupp to have a teams number two cornerback covering them. I give the edge to Goff long term when comparing the two quarterbacks, but definitely prefer Rothlisberger over the next season or two. Goff looks like a bright ascending future star and the Rams are building around him, whereas there remains a distinct possibility that Rothlisberger retires in the offseason, so as far as dynasty goes I prefer Goff. Advantage Kupp
In 2017 Kupp played 737 snaps, where he was targeted 94 times for a team target share percentage of 18.1%. Smith-Schuster played a 703 snaps last season and his 79 targets equated to a 13.4% target share. As far as the depth charts go behind these two talented wide receivers the Steelers are stacked on offense with pro bowl runningback Lev Bell, future hall of famer Antonio Brown and athletic freak Martavius Bryant. The Rams are building an impressive offense around their quarterback with MVP candidate Todd Gurley, former Bills wideouts Sammy Watkins, and Robert Woods, as well as two young pass catching tightends Tyler Higbee, and Gerald Everett. So needless to say both players are playing in potent offenses with a lot of mouths to feed, you just hope there is enough to go around to the secondary receivers on a weekly basis. Advantage: Kupp
When I began doing this player comparison I had somewhat written off Kupp as I assumed that Smith-Schuster would win by a landslide. But after completing my player research I came away truly impressed by Kupp's college tape as well as his accomplishments in his rookie season. JuJu also had a very memorable and productive rookie season especially considering he played the vast majority of his inaugural season at the tender ripe age of 20. So after careful consideration I am going to have to choose Cooper Kupp, it's hard to ignore the fact that Smith-Schuster is nearly four years younger than Kupp despite them both being rookies. Kupp to me just has long term quarterback stability in Jared Goff, it's hard to say who will be under center in Pittsburgh for the foreseeable future. Winner: Cooper Kupp