After a breakout rookie season, expectations were high for Deebo Samuel’s fantasy football value coming into his sophomore season. Unfortunately, a foot injury put Samuel on the sidelines for the first few weeks of the season. After his debut in Week 4, Samuel comes into Week 5 with Jimmy Garoppolo back under center, but also with questions around his own availability. What are Samuel’s odds of playing in Week 5, and if he does, what can we expect from him in fantasy football? Let’s take a look.
October 11 Update – Deebo Samuel is active
Deebo Samuel is active for today’s game against the Miami Dolphins. Keep reading for fantasy analysis on Samuel and his outlook for Week 5 and beyond.
Breakout rookie season for Samuel
After being a second-round draft pick for the San Francisco 49ers last season, Samuel came into his rookie season with high expectations. He was a big playmaker in college but had constantly struggled with staying healthy. He overcame those issues and only missed one game in 2019 while being featured early and often in the 49ers offense.
It was only in Week 2 where he would have five receptions for 86 yards and a touchdown. He would see at least five targets in three of his first seven games before really getting going in the second half of the season. From Week 9 through the end of the season, Samuel would have at least 50 yards from scrimmage in all but one game. That would include four games with 100+ yards from scrimmage as he was not only a big receiving threat but a very capable ball-carrier as well (122 yards rushing over the final eight games of the season).
Regarding Deebo Samuel’s fantasy football value, he was one of the highest-scoring wide receivers during the second half of last season. From Week 9 until the end of the regular season, Samuel was the seventh highest-scoring wide receiver in half point-per-reception (PPR) leagues. So even in a run-heavy offense, Samuel was able to be fantasy gold for those who grabbed him in their leagues. It also showed that despite being a rookie, he was also trusted to have a big role in what would be one of the best teams in the NFL.
Expected Fantasy Points/Fantasy Point Differential
As mentioned, not only was Samuel a big-play threat with a 14.1 yards-per-reception mark, he also made the most of his opportunities. As a ball-carrier, Samuel averaged a remarkable 11.4 yards per rushing attempt. This led to him blowing his expected fantasy football point total out of the water.
He would end up being the sixth-best wide receiver regarding fantasy point differential. He would end up beating his expected total by 37% (189.1 PPR points scored versus 138.5 expected fantasy points), showcasing his big-play potential.
Despite being a threat every time he had the ball in his hands, Samuel didn’t grade as well in terms of consistency score. He would finish just inside the top-50 at the wide receiver position in 2019 with a score of 3.08, which was good for 49th best. Part of that can be blamed upon how reliant the 49ers were on their run game because of how dominant their defense was at limiting opposing offenses. But despite his low consistency score, Deebo Samuel’s fantasy football value was still very much in play during the 2019 season.
What did Samuel show in his Week 4 debut?
As it was his first game back after a serious football injury, Samuel was understandably eased into action last weekend. Despite a limited share of snaps and dealing with inconsistent play from Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard, Samuel had a solid debut. While he only had four offensive touches (three receptions and one carry), he turned it into 45 scrimmage yards. As we saw last season, the 49ers were not afraid to use Samuel in the passing game and the run game.
Samuel’s season debut was lost in the incredible performance by tight end George Kittle, who caught all 15 targets for 183 yards and a touchdown. Samuel would end up finishing fifth on the team in targets behind Kittle (15), Jerick McKinnon (eight), Kendrick Bourne (six), and Brandon Aiyuk (five). But that was with a limited snap count and with two different back-up quarterbacks in the game.
With another week of practice under his belt and Garoppolo returning under center, there is reason to believe we could see a big improvement for Samuel off of his Week 4 performance. However, Samuel has his own availability questions coming into Week 5.
Will Deebo Samuel play in Week 5?
After returning to action in Week 4, Samuel came into this week with a full practice on Wednesday before suddenly not being seen on Thursday. Samuel would end up missing Thursday and Friday’s practices with an illness that was not considered serious.
Normally missing practice time with an illness wouldn’t be a concern but considering everything going on in the world, it was disconcerting to see Samuel be away from the team. However, ESPN’s Nick Wagoner reported on Saturday that Samuel passed every protocol needing to return to the team facilities.
So despite Samuel being seemingly over his foot injury, he still dealt with a hurdle coming into this week. He is labeled as questionable for Week 5, but considering he has reportedly passed every protocol and is feeling better, it’s difficult to see him not suiting up against the Dolphins. While we may not see him return to an every-down role just yet as he works his way back from having missed so much time (including this week), it’s fair to say that Samuel appears to be on the more “probable” side of questionable.
What is Deebo Samuel’s Week 5 fantasy football outlook?
Assuming that Deebo Samuel is indeed active for Week 5 and has a semi-regular role for the 49ers, what can fantasy managers expect from him in their matchup against the Miami Dolphins?
Coming into this weekend, the Dolphins are giving up the sixth-most fantasy points in half point-per-reception (PPR) scoring to opposing wide receivers (34.6). They have allowed five different receivers to have at least 75 yards receiving and/or a receiving touchdown, including David Moore (3/95/1) and D.K. Metcalf (4/106/0) in Week 4.
The Dolphins are expected to get their top cornerback, Byron Jones, back this weekend, after he missed the last two games, which will help their secondary. While it might be fair to assume that the 49ers are in a match-up they are easily expected to win, it would be hasty to think that after their loss to the Eagles in Week 4. The 49ers will get their starting quarterback back on the field in Week 5, and that will surely help fix their offensive woes from last weekend while also providing a boost to all skill players, including Samuel.
After missing Raheem Mostert for the last two weeks, he is also expected to be back, adding another element to an offense that struggled in Week 4. Samuel is expected to be a top-two wide receiver for the team alongside Aiyuk and is a top-three or four option in the offense behind Kittle and Mostert.
Samuel is also always a threat to get some work on the ground in the run-heavy offense of the 49ers. While we may not see him on the field for a full complement of snaps, as he continues to get back into game shape, he is expected to see an increase in field time for Week 5.
Even with limited work, Samuel provided encouraging results for his fantasy managers and is a safe bet to improve his Week 4 body of work. The 49ers are going up against a Dolphins team that has given up the fifth-most passing yards per game (285.0) and the highest yards-per-reception average (13.0) of any team in the league. The Dolphins have also given up at least 250 yards receiving to opposing wide receivers twice in the last three games, which sets up the entire 49ers group to put up solid numbers.
All in all, if Samuel plays, it’s safe to presume he will see even more work than in Week 4 in a plus matchup. This is especially true in a week when Davante Adams and Kenny Golladay are on bye, and other receivers like Stefon Diggs, A.J. Brown, Jerry Jeudy, and Julian Edelman all have question marks around their games being played, Samuel may represent a safer option for some fantasy football managers.
He’s a solid bet to be in the top-36 for wide receivers and represents a higher ceiling than other options due to his involvement in both the passing and rushing game. He’s not a bad FLEX play for Week 5.
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