Deebo Samuel finished 2019 as WR31 in PPR formats. He scored double-digit points in 9 of 15 contests this year, topping 15 points in six of those games. Samuel has the upside to be the consistent WR1 for the San Francisco 49ers. His ceiling in dynasty leagues gets a little trickier to project than that, however. Presently ranked as Tommy Garrett’s WR21 (50 overall), I believe his high-end value sees him somewhere around fantasy’s 12th to 16th WR if he fully realized his potential. With one big game to go before we start to look at his sophomore season, what has Deebo Samuel done to this point to affect his dynasty outlook in 2020 and beyond?
Normal rookie beginnings
Samuel experienced the typical rookie ups and downs during the season. After playing 88% of snaps in Week 1, Kyle Shanahan said of Samuel, “I think he learned what the NFL is like. I think it was our fault for playing him too much.” After mentioning second-year man Dante Pettis as someone that should’ve played more, many fantasy football players braced for a significant reduction going forward. However, Samuel only played fewer than 50% of snaps twice during the season.
Hitting his stride
Samuel experienced his most productive stretch after returning from a groin injury that held him out of the 49ers’ Week 7 game. From Week 8 on, Samuel never played fewer than 60% of snaps and only posted single-digit PPR points twice. He is used all over the offense, filling out Shanahan’s dynamic offensive gameplan. His pre-snap motion allows the 49ers to get Jimmy Garoppolo more information on the defense. It creates angles for the running game and keeps defenses guessing with his ability to run the ball on occasion.
I said back on Love Sport’s American Sports Show that acquiring Emmanuel Sanders would be a massive benefit for Samuel. Sanders is more or less the best possible outcome for Samuel’s career, and he could outdo the veteran if he and coach Shanahan can stay together for an extended time. Samuel’s prowess as both a receiving and running threat will be fully explored with such a creative offensive mind at the helm. Even more, Samuel is a talented route runner that is dangerous in short, intermediate, and deep route concepts.
Samuel stands as the model for every player looking to improve their stock in the offseason. Everything started with the Senior Bowl, where the 49ers got an up-close and personal experience of the South Carolina product. Samuel would likely cost a late-round rookie pick in upcoming drafts, and a strong showing in Super Bowl LIV would make that a sound investment.
Andrew Thomas Jordan is an editor and analyst for the Pro Football Network covering Fantasy Football. You can follow him @The_ATJ on Twitter.