Deebo Samuel had a fantastic rookie season for the 49ers and was a key offensive weapon in the team’s Superbowl run. At 5-11, 215 lbs, Samuel was a monster in the open field showing elite yards after catch (YAC) potential. Additionally, Samuel shows a quick burst after catching the ball which makes him even more explosive in the slot position. Coupled with the 49ers offensive targeting the middle of the field in the passing game, Deebo was given the ability to play to his strengths. Given the 49er’s success in 2019, I don’t see head coach Kyle Shanahan changing the offensive scheme. However, the success was primarily due to the 49ers run-heavy scheme which limited opportunities for Samuel in the passing game. While I believe Samuel will build upon his rookie season, I expect the 49ers scheme to put a ceiling on his production in 2020.
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Deebo Samuel’s rookie season was impressive. He fit seamlessly into Kyle Shanahan’s complicated offensive scheme and established chemistry with quarterback Jimmy Garrapolo. The fit translated into production as he finished the 2019 season with 57 receptions for 802 yards and 3 receiving touchdowns. Moreover, he produced 180 fantasy points and ranked 7th amongst wide receivers in catch percentage at 70%. In addition, Samuel put up these stats in only 15 games.
Despite his tremendous rookie season, his game log paints a different picture. 4 of his 15 games Samuel failed to catch more than two passes. In 8 out of 15 games, he didn’t catch more than three balls. The 49ers are a run-heavy offense and it shows with Samuel, at times, disappearing on the field.
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I expect Deebo Samuel to build off of his impressive regular season and spectacular playoff performance. He’s will only get more familiar in Kyle Shanahan’s offense and with Jimmy Garrapolo. I also expect him to build upon his strength as by all means, the organization raves about Samuel’s work ethic. He fights for every possession and his yards after the catch is something to behold. I love this man’s upside as a wide receiver.
The reason I don’t have him any higher is that while he is the best wide-receiver on the team, tight end George Kittle is Jimmy Garrapolo’s number one option. Also, the run-heavy 49ers offense makes me nervous, I don’t see how Samuel will get the number of targets the other top wide-receivers receive.
Lineups agrees, projecting the receiver the finish with 68 receptions for 829 yards and 6 touchdowns. Fantasy-wise, lineups predict that Samuel will finish with 185 fantasy points for roughly 11.56 points per game. At this ADP, you expect more from your wide receiver and I just don’t think, barring a George Kittle injury, that you will see Samuel obtain 70+ receptions for 1000+ yards. His quarterback, scheme, and other receiving options all negatively affect his performance.
ADP: 39 WR: 27
Auction Value: $18
Samuel’s current ADP is 39, meaning that he is most fantasy owner’s number two wide receiver. I don’t agree with Samuel’s ADP given the weapons still available. At 39, guys like DJ Moore, Odell Beckham Jr., A.J. Brown, Calvin Ridley, T.Y. Hilton are all still available. With the 49ers run-first offense, Jimmy Garrapolo’s game manager style of play, and George Kittle’s presence on the team, I don’t see the Deebo Samuel having a 1000 yard season let alone a high touchdown season. For standard formats, Samuel should be avoided at all costs – he doesn’t generate touchdowns as the 49ers prefer the run game and Kittle in red-zone opportunities. In PPR leagues, I would take Samuel closer to 50 as a potential flex option.
However, Samuel’s Auction Value is $18, considerably higher given his ADP. For example, Amari Cooper, Adam Thielen, and Calvin Ridley all have Auction Values of $17. DJ Chark, who has a $7 Auction Value, has a similar ADP of 37.4. For auction value drafts, the price for Samuel is too high given the breadth of receiving options at his ADP. I would avoid Samuel in Auction Value Drafts at all costs.
Most PPR points per target last season (WRs)
1. A.J. Brown – 2.6
2. Deebo Samuel – 2.5
3. Adam Thielen – 2.4
4. Chris Godwin – 2.4
5. Stefon Diggs – 2.4 pic.twitter.com/dzwosEsvDZ
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) June 6, 2020
Samuel has a high ceiling because he has room to grow in his second season. However, this ceiling is capped by an average quarterback and a run-heavy offense. In my opinion, Samuel is capable of producing a 1000-yard ceiling. However, it is more likely than not that he achieves this number.
Despite his lower than average ceiling for his talent level, I think Samuel has a very high floor. He’s a second-year player meaning that he will only continue to improve at the nuances of the game. He’s also in a position to get even more familiar with Kyle Shanahan’s offensive style of play. He plays best under the slot, a position that continues to thrive in the NFL. Given these circumstances, I can easily see Samuel averaging at least 60 receptions for 700 yards. It’s, just hard to project a 1000 yard season given the circumstances working against Samuel.
As mentioned, the 49ers offense primarily relies on their rushing game to generate movement. On several occasions, quarterback Jimmy Garrapolo threw less than 20 passes in the entire game. Having so little opportunities to simply pass the ball limits the amount of production fantasy owners should expect out of Samuel.
Also, Samuel has a bit of competition from Brandon Aiyuk, first-round pick in 2020. Brandon Aiyuk provides the offense with another physical receiver expected to make his impact down the middle. They will compete for the already low amount of targets that Garrapolo will provide.
Strength of Schedule
What is on Deebo Samuel’s side is the 49ers easy regular-season schedule. The only threatening defenses that the 49ers face all season is the Saints, Patriots, Bills, Jets, and Packers. Their division has weak defensive opponents in the Cardinals, Rams, and Seahawks to an extent. I don’t see their opponents being able to consistently shut down this offense.
Overall, while I like Deebo Samuel as a player, I think his ADP is too high given his positional value within the offense and the guys still left on the draft board. I love the way Samuel plays, but fantasy owners must also recognize that the 49ers are the most run-heavy team in all of the NFL. Samuel won’t get the consistent targets like others on this big board. I’d take Samuel in the late 40s/early 50s if still available.
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