There’s a long time between the Super Bowl and the season opener. With all eyes on the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers, the individual performances can shape the narrative on players for months. The game is packed full of superstars, but there are fantasy options all over the roster. So, just what should you do with Deebo Samuel and Sammy Watkins in dynasty?
Undervalued: Deebo Samuel is a fantasy sleeper with plenty of potential
Fans and dynasty owners were naturally excited when the San Francisco 49ers selected Deebo Samuel early in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Despite a difficult few years, it looked as if the offense was finally coming together, and one of the premier franchises in football was on the way back up.
With Jimmy Garoppolo throwing the ball and the acquisition of Tevin Coleman in free agency, the 49ers offense would be unrecognizable from 2018. When you add in Kyle Shanahan, one of the league’s brightest offensive minds, calling the plays, and George Kittle setting the record for receiving yards by a tight end the previous season, there were definite reasons for optimism.
Samuel’s NFL career got off to a slow start with only three receptions for 17 yards in his debut. It didn’t take long for him to get up to speed, though, with 86 yards and a touchdown in his second game. There were plenty more ups and downs throughout the season. That said, he finished the season as the WR26 in standard scoring, outscoring players such as Odell Beckham Jr, Emmanuel Sanders, and Larry Fitzgerald despite playing fewer games.
The critical thing for Samuel will be finding consistency but his improvement throughout the season projects favorably. He had fewer than 50 scrimmage yards in six of his first seven games as a rookie. In his final eight games, he had more than 100 scrimmage yards four times and only had fewer than 50 scrimmage yards once.
Even when Samuel is struggling for production as a receiver, his rushing ability gives him more opportunities to score points. He finished the season with 14 carries for 159 yards and three touchdowns. His 961 scrimmage yards trailed only Miles Sanders, Josh Jacobs, David Montgomery, and Devin Singletary among rookies, making him the most productive first-year wide receiver.
Fantasy owners will be excited to know that Samuel’s 38.63 grade was enough to finish the season as the WR2 in PFN Offensive Share Metric (OSM). The inconsistencies with the number of targets that he received meant that only eight of his 15 games met the minimum threshold (five targets per game), but he impressed when given the opportunity. Of those eight games, four of them finished with top-eight weekly grades among wide receivers.
Samuel should continue to improve as he gets more comfortable in Shanahan’s offense and as his chemistry builds with Garoppolo. His partnership with Sanders and the presence of Kittle will provide favorable matchups. He’s a smooth, explosive route runner and, aged just 24. He should have a significant impact on your dynasty league for years to come.
It’s natural to have trade requests rejected fantasy football, but you should test the waters with Deebo Samuel in dynasty. Everybody values players differently. But that also means you can find value. I’d rather him than Julian Edelman, Dede Westbrook, or Corey Davis, three players who are often valued similarly. If you can find an owner willing to trade, then take advantage of name-value and find yourself a productive receiver.
And on the subject of players who I would trade for Deebo Samuel.
Overvalued: Sammy Watkins’ inconsistency is a nightmare in dynasty
Sammy Watkins owners will have been rubbing their hands together in delight after week one. With Tyreek Hill injuring his shoulder, Watkins exploded for 198 receiving yards and three touchdowns against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Unfortunately, that represented 29% of Watkins’ yards and 75% of his touchdowns for the season. He managed just 475 yards in his remaining 13 games, averaging 36.5 receiving yards per game and appearing to fall behind Mecole Hardman in the pecking order.
Predictably, Watkins’ week one performance was by far his best OSM grade. Despite that WR4 performance, he finished the season as WR55 with a grade of 31.86. In fact, his second-highest grade of 32.14 was only enough for WR30.
Watkins is entering the last year of his deal with the Kansas City Chiefs and has a $21 million cap hit. Whether the Chiefs try to restructure his contract, extend it, let him walk, or even see if there are trade partners. He’s in a tough situation for fantasy at the moment; Patrick Mahomes is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, and a new team would lead to a downgrade. On the other hand, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill will always be the top two receiving options on the team, and his upside is limited while they’re playing.
At 26, Sammy Watkins could still have a future in dynasty and is still young enough to shake the “underachiever” label. He’s a talented player who was let down by injuries and mediocre offenses to begin his career. That said, he’s only reached 1000 receiving yards once in his career, and the 673 yards he posted in 2019 were the most he’s had over the last four years.
The recent news that Watkins is considering a hiatus won’t help matters of dynasty value. He may show the ability that he had in college when draft analysts preferred him to fellow Clemson wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Sabbatical or not, he’s a risky proposition and is still being valued alongside players who regularly produce.
Come back next week for the fifth installment of the overvalued and undervalued dynasty players in 2020 by Andy Gallagher.