Note: Justyn Ross was placed on injured reserve in July after foot surgery. He will miss the entire 2022 season. We are keeping the following content available for historical reference, as managers weigh draft decisions concerning other non-starting Chiefs receivers, along with rookie-draft strategy.
1Is there a role for Ross?
Even a fully healthy Justyn Ross (more on that below) has no clear path to targets in a passing game expected to be dominated by Travis Kelce, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and rookie Skyy Moore, along with Mecole Hardman and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. He would need to shine in camp, and likely slot receiver Smith-Schuster would need to miss significant time.
2Injury red flags
Ross was a former first-round prospect. Then, a 2020 spinal injury knocked him out for the year, and a stress fracture in his foot last year limited him further. Undrafted this season, it seems clear that the NFL no longer believes he can be a difference-maker. That said, the Chiefs have the luxury of taking a chance, just as they’ve done with Josh Gordon, Sammy Watkins, Smith-Schuster, and other former elite or near-elite talents who, for various reasons, have been reduced to reclamation projects. Ross doesn’t appear to be the same player he was before 2020. Beyond that, he’s one of the highest injury risks of any rookie in years.
To put an exclamation on Ross’ potentially shifting usage, he caught six TD passes of 50+ yards as a freshman. In his first two seasons, only two of Ross’ 17 touchdowns were inside the 10-yard line. In his post-spinal-and-foot-injury campaign in 2021, two of his three TDs were inside the 10-yard line.
The former big-play receiver was now more of a possession receiver, and his more pronounced role near the goal line reinforced this change. Some secondary and even tertiary options have significantly bolstered their fantasy production inside the 10-yard line, such as Braxton Berrios (7-for-8 with two TDs for his career) and Tim Patrick in 2020 (7-for-8 with six TDs). If Ross can somehow become a goal-line specialist, that might be his only realistic path to boom/bust value.