Assessing 49ers WR Deebo Samuel’s 2021 fantasy football value

Deebo Samuel #19 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Deebo Samuel #19 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

Fantasy football owners of 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel were left disappointed in 2020 because of his injuries, which makes things interesting for 2021.

It can be risky for fantasy football owners to grab a player coming off a year in which he dealt with multiple injuries, and that’s going to be the case for fantasy general managers zeroing in on San Francisco 49ers third-year wide receiver Deebo Samuel.

The 2019 second-round NFL Draft pick out of South Carolina came on strong his rookie year, helping propel the Niners all the way to the Super Bowl as a dual-threat receiver who could also pick up massive chunks in the ground game. This led to many a fantasy owner thinking he could be a high-quality WR2 on most rosters entering 2020, but an offseason Jones fracture in his foot thwarted many amateur general managers from making a move until Samuel was ready to return.

Unfortunately, Samuel’s follow-up campaign was limited to just seven games, missing the first three weeks because of the fracture, then suffering hamstring injuries twice over the course of the rest of the season.

All for a meager 33 receptions for 391 yards, 26 rush yards and only one touchdown — hardly worth a spot on a fantasy roster.

It’s hard to shake the injury-bug designation, and it can take players at least a couple of years to avoid being labeled as a fantasy injury risk. Yet that’s what Samuel is ultimately going to have to do entering 2021, along with a good chunk of San Francisco’s roster, which was hit awfully hard by injuries a year ago.

49ers WR Deebo Samuel: Average draft position

Samuel’s injuries and relative lack of production in 2020 have done some damage to his draft stock. For starters, he’s no longer the top 49ers wide receiver on fantasy draft boards, as that honor goes to second-year pro Brandon Aiyuk, whose average draft position (ADP) in a 12-team points-per-reception (PPR) format is 6.02, according to Fantasy Football Calculator.

Samuel, meanwhile, is at 8.03 — a full two rounds later than Aiyuk and the No. 35 overall wide receiver on their draft board.

For fantasy nerds, that’s right in the middle of backup wide receiver status or a possible bye-week FLEX, not much more.

Banking on 49ers WR Deebo Samuel’s fantasy football upside

Samuel’s injury history unfortunately stretches back into his college days, which isn’t necessarily a good thing. But assuming he stays healthy, a late-round pick during fantasy drafts could ultimately result in a sizable benefit.

Related Story: What to make of 49ers in 2021 fantasy football

Remember, championships aren’t won by first- and second-round picks. They’re won in the later rounds and on the waiver wire.

Samuel isn’t going to be a waiver-wire grab, of course. But there are a few things worth noting.

For owners willing to take the injury risk on, they can account from a key stat from ESPN, which reported Samuel received 25 percent of the 49ers’ targets last year (8.2 per game). And despite the fact the Niners are looking to get a fully healthy pass-catching crop back this season, including Samuel, Aiyuk and tight end George Kittle, there’s little reason to believe Samuel’s targets in 2021 will see a major decline.

Particularly if San Francisco elects to make the move from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to the rookie, Trey Lance. At least according to NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco, who reported the first-year quarterback has been working out with Samuel in Southern California.

It’s anyone’s guess what fantasy football value this will bring in 2021, but it certainly can’t hurt. That chemistry can be vital in helping a quarterback develop a rapport with a receiving target, and it should also help with Samuel keeping pace with receiving roughly a quarter of targets when games commence in September.

If things go according to plan, Samuel goes from being an up-and-coming commodity, as he was roughly a year ago at this time, to a potential late-round steal.

And those picks are how fantasy football leagues can be won.

Next. 10 fantasy football busts to avoid drafting in 2021. dark