Fantasy football owners needed to wait and see how Deebo Samuel and his situation with the 49ers panned out, but his role unchanging is good news for 2022.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel might have flown a little bit under the radar entering 2021, at least in terms of fantasy football value. According to Fantasy Football Calculator, Samuel’s average draft position (ADP) a season ago was 8.06 in 12-team, PPR leagues.
That trailed his fellow Niners teammate, Brandon Aiyuk, whose 2021 ADP was 5.06.
Needless to say, those who grabbed Samuel over Aiyuk were not only rewarded with a late-round steal but also received All-Pro production with the former South Carolina Gamecock recording 1,770 all-purpose yards and 14 total touchdowns. While Aiyuk was solid enough as a WR2 or FLEX option, he came nowhere close to Samuel’s production.
Of those 1,770 yards, 365 of them came on the ground as a rusher, while eight of his 14 touchdowns were of the rushing variety, too. It was a fantasy football goldmine, plain and simple.
The newly coined term “wide back” was surely applicable. Yet, removing the fantasy football discussion for a second, there were thoughts of Samuel being upset with his role, reports of such coming from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport amid the All-Pro’s offseason contractual standoff with San Francisco.
Once Samuel finally received his contract extension, which included incentives for actually running the ball and not just serving as a receiver, he only dismissed any claims about being upset with his role (h/t 49ers Webzone):
"[Reporter]: One of the narratives this offseason was that you were upset with how you were going to be used. Can you address that? Whether that’s correct or not?[Deebo Samuel]: “That is false. There was a lot of things that came out that I wanted to speak on, but at the end of the day, I wasn’t allowed to. So, you can turn on the tape, go back to the Cowboys game, it kind of shows what kind of player I am. And also, you can go turn on the Pro Bowl tape and what I said about being a wideback, I don’t mind doing whatever it takes for this team to win.”"
Turning our fantasy football radar back on, this is obviously great news for team owners looking to add Samuel to the mix, and it certainly increases his overall value.
Deebo Samuel fantasy football value skyrockets amid continuing ‘wide back’ role
No longer an under-the-radar fantasy gem, Samuel would still have been a sought-after commodity in fantasy drafts even if his contract specified something along the lines of not being used as much in a dual-threat role.
With quarterback Trey Lance debuting as a full-time starter for the first time, there are understandable concerns as to why Samuel’s 2022 numbers may not be anywhere close to what he showcased a year ago, yet Fantasy Football Calculator’s ADP for the receiver is still a lofty 2.05, and he’s currently ranked as the No. 7 wide receiver to go, on average, in 12-team, PPR formats.
If Samuel wasn’t going to be used as a wide back, that spot likely would have been a bit of a reach, as his dual-threat usage was essentially the element that made him so unique.
Now, with Samuel all but assured to play a role nearly identical to the one he displayed last year, his fantasy football value certainly is much better.
Even if Lance struggles early on to find the 49ers’ top offensive weapon from a year ago, Samuel’s rushing prowess still makes him a true WR1 candidate. Those chunk plays of rushes, combined with regular trips to the end zone, help ensure fantasy owners who use an early pick on him are kindly rewarded.