Fantasy Court: The Case For Deebo Samuel in 2021

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In the Fantasy Court Series, two of the writers for The Fantasy Footballers choose sides on a player and present their argument to help you decide whether or not you should be drafting these players at their average draft position (ADP).  It’s important to acknowledge that draft cost is the most important factor when it comes to loving or hating a fantasy player come draft day. Today’s case is all about Deebo Samuel, who finished the 2020 season as the WR46 on a points-per-game basis.  As of this writing, he’s currently valued at an average draft position (ADP) of 7.07, right around Robby Anderson, DeVonta Smith, and Jerry Jeudy.  I think Deebo will take a step forward this season and be used enough to warrant WR2 production.  Conversely, you can read Peter Chung’s The Case Against Deebo Samuel for the counterargument.

Opening Statement

Deebo Samuel is entering his third year after being picked in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL draft by the San Francisco 49ers.  His comp on PlayerProfiler.com is Chris Godwin, which is pretty good company if you ask me.  Let’s go through his history in fantasy football context:

2019: Rookie Season

  1. Has a cool name.  Possibly the best name in the NFL.
  2. Second most all-time receiving yards by a 49ers rookie.  Number one was Jerry Rice…ever heard of him?
  3. He finished eighth in catch rate (70.4%).
  4. Finished fifth among WR in total yards after the catch (473) while only seeing 81 targets (50th among WR).
  5. He had 89 total yards or a touchdown in nine of his final 11 games (including playoffs).
  6. He finished as a top-26 fantasy WR seven times from Weeks 10 to 17.

2020: Sophomore Season

  1. Deebo suffered several injuries during 2020 and ended up only playing in seven games last season.  His injuries include:
    • June – Jones fracture in his foot.
    • October – Hamstring strain
    • December – Hamstring strain (again)
  2. Samuel averaged a pedestrian rate of 9.2 pts/g last season and was up and down.  He did NOT help you in 2020.
  3. He still led ALL NFL players in yards after the catch per reception: 12.1 YAC/R.  That is a truly SPECIAL feat.  The guy is a freak athlete.

If we look at Deebo Samuel’s two-year NFL career, he has averaged 12.4 fantasy points per game when he sees 4+ targets.  Not receptions, TARGETS!  The guy doesn’t need much to produce.  He gets tagged with the “injury-prone” label…but as we know from recent data, “injury-prone” is a myth.  Just ask our Injury Expert / DFS Guru Matthew Betz.

And people forget that Deebo Samuel is a cool name guy, which carries a lot of weight in my book.

The film backs it up.  He is a yard after the catch (YAC) wizard!

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Expectations for 2021

I think Deebo is going to be a WR2 in 2021.  Imagine if he didn’t get injured last year and took a step forward from his incredible rookie season?

On that note, let’s compare Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk’s rookie seasons:

  1. Brandon Aiyuk (ADP 6.02)
    • 10 games started
    • 60 receptions for 748 yards
    • 7 total touchdowns
    • 7.8 yards per target
    • 12.5 yards per reception
  2. Deebo Samuel (ADP 7.07)
    • 11 games started
    • 57 receptions for 802 yards
    • 6 total touchdowns
    • 9.9 yards per target
    • 14.1 yards per reception

Getty Images / Icon Sportswire

Aiyuk is a monster himself.  I love the player.  But I’ll take Deebo in the late 7th round instead of Aiyuk in the early 6th round nine times out of 10.

Deebo can produce with little volume, which is a major selling point in an offense with George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk, and other weapons competing for touches.  Regardless of the quarterback play, Deebo will be productive if he can stay healthy.  Honestly, I think the Trey Lance vs Jimmy G debate is a moot point when it comes to fantasy football.

Kyle Shanahan is a great offensive coach who schemes to get his playmakers involved.  Let me ask you a question… If you were Kyle Shanahan and wanted to win football games, would you utilize your weapon who is top-5 in the league once he gets the ball in his hands? Yea, me too.

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Conclusion

In conclusion, Deebo Samuel is a STEAL in the late seventh round of drafts.  His talent is unquestioned.  The only risk with Deebo is health, and if you believe in the “injury-prone” tag…just do some research on Frank Gore.  The nice thing about a player like Deebo is that you can start him when he’s active.  Simple as that.

Deebo Samuel has the upside to be a league winner on a 49ers team with immense upside.  Deebo is one of my favorite targets in drafts this year, and he’s a low-risk bet at his late 7th round ADP.  The opportunity cost of drafting Deebo is very low when considering others being drafted around him.  Draft Deebo.  Just do it.

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