It sounds counterproductive, but it might be wise to let Deebo Samuel go to someone else during your 2022 fantasy football draft.
I remember grabbing New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas in the middle rounds of my 2019 fantasy football draft. It was surprising he was there, considering his league-leading 125-catch campaign the season before, but I didn’t complain and surely wasn’t going to pass up on such a draft sleeper.
That worked out nicely, Thomas having another league-leading 149 catches for a league-best 1,725 yards, and I ended up being the champ over the nine other chumps in that particular league that season.
A year later, though, Thomas wasn’t going to slip. I knew that. Someone else would reach and overdraft the receiver even if it meant he’d reward them handsomely.
Amid injuries, Thomas didn’t. But that’s not the point of this article.
No, we’re focusing on San Francisco 49ers All-Pro wide receiver Deebo Samuel here. He’s the one we want to break down and describe why you, the best fantasy football owner out there, would be wise to pull a move similar to what I did with Thomas after his 2019 season.
Deebo Samuel 2022 fantasy football projection
Dual-threat offensive players are fantasy football goldmines. Running backs who are guaranteed a lot of carries but also garner a good deal of catches make for excellent points-per-reception additions (remember back when St. Louis Rams running back Marshall Faulk was always a top fantasy pick?), but it’s rarer to have wide receivers who also pick up a lot of yards on the ground.
Well, that’s what Samuel was in 2021: a “wide back.”
His 1,770 all-purpose yards ranked third in the NFL last season, and 365 of those came on the ground. Additionally, 14 net touchdowns split through the air and in the rushing game turned into a fantasy football dream.
Samuel netted 338.96 fantasy football points in ESPN PPR leagues last season.
In 2021, Fantasy Football Calculator listed Samuel’s average draft position (ADP) at 8.06 (Round 8, pick No. 6) in 12-team PPR leagues, which was actually lower than his Niners teammate, fellow wideout Brandon Aiyuk (5.06).
At any rate, Samuel’s All-Pro 2021 campaign only serves to massively boost his draft positioning this year, and right now, his ADP for 2022 is 2.05 with him being the seventh wide receiver taken in the same league format.
Why fantasy football owners should pass on Deebo Samuel
No, of course you shouldn’t entirely avoid Samuel at all costs in your fantasy football draft. If for whatever reason, somehow he slips late into Round 3 or even beyond, don’t hesitate.
But, given his 2022 ADP listed above, the likelihood of that happening is slim. And he might even sneak his way into the back end of Round 1 in some leagues, too.
Understanding that someone else is either going to overdraft Samuel, or you playing the “let’s find this year’s sleeper” in the latter rounds, is only part of the equation. There’s another reason why letting Samuel go to someone else early is a smart fantasy play.
You’re probably aware of Samuel’s standoff with San Francisco, and part of this is due to him wanting a new contract. Additionally, though, Samuel is reportedly frustrated that he’s being used as that “wide back,” which might make him unique (and a fantasy football gem), but it’ll also shorten his career if that continues.
The 49ers used a third-round NFL Draft pick on a running back this year, Tryion Davis-Price, despite having two second-year rushers already on the roster, Elijah Mitchell and Trey Sermon, suggesting they’re willing to stockpile actual tailbacks and not use Samuel in that way this season.
So, how does ESPN view this? Currently, they project Samuel’s fantasy output to be 264.54 points, nearly 75 points less than what he had a year ago.
This isn’t wholly unlike Thomas’ situation entering 2020, although one should surely hope Samuel doesn’t succumb to injuries as Thomas did.
Still, the smart fantasy play would be to let someone else grab Samuel early on draft day, although your role will be to identify that next sleeper pick in the middle and late rounds.