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Deebo Samuel – The Dual-Threat Receiver

After an elite fantasy season in 2021, will Deebo ever hit that level again? @CoachStevenP takes a look at the 49ers WR's situation!

Deebo Samuel, the dual-threat wide receiver/running back for the 49ers, is now in limbo for dynasty owners. He showed an elite 2021 fantasy season, but the other three years have shown some question marks for long-term value. He is already 27 years old; what do we do with Samuel in dynasty moving forward now?

Recent Fantasy History

Samuel has been a polarized fantasy player in his four seasons for us. He had a strong rookie season showing what we loved in Samuel as a dual-threat weapon for the 49er’s offense. In their sophomore year, he dealt with a foot injury before the 2020 season, which led to him missing nine games. In these first two seasons, he had dealt with missing ten games. Samuel was coming at a discount for us in fantasy football before the 2021 season.

In 2021, Samuel exploded into the fantasy season with 1,700 all-purpose yards and 14 total touchdowns. He was first in yards per target and yards per reception with 18.2 which led the NFL that season. Samuel’s true dual-threat ability came out with him rushing for 365 yards and eight rushing touchdowns. He gave us a player-making ability in fantasy, which felt like you were starting a player-and-half with Samuel in your starting lineup. He was given a three-year extension worth up to $71 million following the 2021 season.

In 2022, there were big expectations for the dual-threat receiver, but those expectations fell short by the end of the season. Samuel would still manage almost 900 all-purpose yards with three quarterbacks during the season. His yards per reception would still fall to 11.0, and his total touchdowns would be down to five. Samuel’s touchdowns have fluctuated over his career, so there is no consistency. Samuel has been an excellent yard-after-the-catch receiver, so his talent produces the fantasy points rather than the quarterback. During his 2021 season, his YAC yardage was 55% of his total yardage, and his 2022 numbers were 75% of his total yardage. He finished both of those seasons in the top ten in YAC.

What’s New for 2023 

Some new elements that can affect Samuel’s dynasty value are the quarterback play and Christian McCaffrey. As fantasy owners, we are still waiting to see who will be the starting quarterback for 2023. It seems like it’s Brock Purdy’s job to lose, so let’s see how Samuel did with Purdy. In six games with Purdy (regular & postseason), he averaged 66 all-purpose yards and .33 of a touchdown. If you take that average over a 17 games season, it would be 1,100 all-purpose yards and five total touchdowns. Those numbers would make Samuel a solid fantasy receiver and somewhere as a high-end WR2.

Purdy isn’t the only one looking to start in 2023; Trey Lance is looking to reclaim his job after missing most of the season with an injury. In Lance’s three career starts with Samuel, his average over a 17-game season would be 1,241 yards and 17 total touchdowns. It is important to note that Samuel scored a rushing touchdown in each of Lance’s starts. Of course, there is a deep rumor that Sam Darnold may start early in the season. We’ve seen Samuel produce with many quarterbacks over his career, so that shouldn’t worry much about who is throwing the ball to him.

The main issue could be having McCaffrey for an entire fantasy season. Before the CMC trade, Samuel was on pace for 1,362 all-purpose yards and eight touchdowns which would have led to another elite season. Once CMC was on the field, Samuel would average 930 all-purpose yards and five total touchdowns. If CMC and Samuel are on the field simultaneously all season, this could limit his rushing upside value, especially with rushing touchdowns. Samuel had 11 rushing touchdowns compared to eight receiving touchdowns in the last two seasons. CMC is a dual threat that was more productive in the red zone than Samuel. Let’s not forget the return of Elijah Mitchell and Trey Lance, a mobile quarterback, could continue to take away Samuel’s dual-threat opportunity.

Dynasty Trade Values 

  • DJ Moore for Samuel
  • 2023 First for Samuel
  • D’Andre Swift for Samuel

Here are some recent dynasty trades surrounding Samuel over the last few days following the NFL draft. I like two of three of these trades for Samuel. I have him over a late 2023 first-round pick or Swift. Samuel’s upside offers more to a contending team, and he is less injury prone than Swift. DJ Moore, I’d lean over Samuel due to Moore’s consistent strong floor he offers as the top target for the Bears’ offense. After a mediocre season, this is the time to reach out to the Samuel owners to see what they value him.

Final Thoughts

What should we expect from Samuel moving forward? He is under contract for another three seasons with the 49ers as the WR1 for this team. You can argue he is the number one pass catcher, but that’s not as certain. The quarterback is still a mystery that needs to be figured out before we are truly confident in what type of production we should see from Samuel. He has an upside to produce over 1,000 all-purpose yard seasons, but the rushing upside could be limited moving forward. I believe the fantasy community is currently down on Samuel’s dynasty value. You could give up less value than some of those trades above. It’s time to buy low into Deebo Samuel for your dynasty team.

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