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Is Jaxon Smith-Njigba ready to break out?

By Jared Smola | Updated on Fri, 07 Jun 2024, 7:59 AM EDT
Jaxon Smith-Njigba Headshot

Seahawks WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba is coming off a disappointing 2023 rookie season, in terms of both usage and fantasy production. He ranked 41st among WRs in targets and 48th in PPR points. But he'll be operating in a new offense this year and is a candidate to take a big leap forward in his second season. It makes him a potential post-hype value in 2024 fantasy drafts.

What Went Wrong Last Year

Smith-Njigba got off to a strong start last offseason, but that momentum was halted when he broke a bone in his left wrist in a preseason game on August 19. He had surgery on August 22 and was sidelined for about a week. JSN was ready for the start of the season but didn’t top a 66% route rate in any of his first three games.

He saw more action the rest of the way, with a route rate of 73% or higher in 12 of his final 14 games. And he was a bit more productive, ranking 39th among WRs in PPR points from Week 4 on.

But he still wasn't any exciting fantasy option, largely due to underwhelming usage. Smith-Njigba averaged 5.6 targets per game on a 16.7% share across those final 14 games. And he registered a 6.4-yard average target depth for the season-- 77th among 80 qualifying WRs.

2024 Fantasy Football Impact

Seattle has a brand new coaching staff this year led by HC Mike Macdonald and OC Ryan Grubb. That can’t be bad news for Smith-Njigba after last season's crappy usage.

This will be Grubb’s first NFL coaching job. He spent the past two seasons as the University of Washington’s OC. Those Huskies teams both ranked top 13 in the nation in total yards and points per game. They were especially lethal through the air, ranking first and then second in passing yards per game. Washington ranked top five in pass attempts both years.

Grubb might provide a big boost to this Seahawks passing game, which would clearly be good news for Smith-Njigba's fantasy value.

It's also fair to expect JSN to take a leap forward in his second season. He turned just 22 in February. Our aging-curve data says Round 1 WRs go from 77% peak production at age-21 to 94% at age-22.

WR Tyler Lockett, meanwhile, appears to be in decline. He turns 32 in September and posted his lowest fantasy points per game and yards per route since 2017 last year.

Smith-Njigba is cheaper in fantasy drafts this year than last, with a WR44 best-ball ADP. That makes him a nice post-hype target.

What They're Saying

"JSN’s a great player, and expecting big things out of him," HC Mike Macdonald said in early June. "He’s had a great offseason. Works his tail off, his practice habits are awesome, moving ability is pretty elite. So, I think we’ve got a really cool plan for him."

Jared Smola Author Image
Jared Smola, Lead Analyst
Jared has been with Draft Sharks since 2007. He’s now Lead Analyst, heading up the preseason and weekly projections that fuel your Draft War Room and My Team tools. He currently ranks 1st among 133 analysts in draft rankings accuracy.
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