Contract Year Player Outlook: Deebo Samuel (2022 Fantasy Football)
We recently look at the impact contract status has on fantasy football performance. Focusing specifically on players entering the final year of their rookie contracts, Sam Ryner put together key general takeaways and also players impacted entering the 2022 fantasy football season. Let’s take a deeper dive on one of those players, Deebo Samuel.
Other Contract Year Player Outlooks:
- Diontae Johnson
- Daniel Jones
- Dawson Knox
- Hunter Renfrow
- Irv Smith Jr.
- Mecole Hardman
- Tony Pollard
- Terry McLaurin
- Alexander Mattison
- DK Metcalf
Contract-season fantasy performances for WRs (2017-21; PPR scoring)
- 48.9% produced a PPG at least one point above their career average.
- 32.6% produced a PPG at least one point below their career average.
- 18.3% produced a PPG within one point of their career average.
- 38.7% had the best season-end rank of their rookie contract.
- 30.6% had the worst-season end rank of their rookie contract.
Fun Fact: 67.2% of fantasy-relevant WRs produce a PPG number that is better than or equal to their career average in the final year of their rookie contract.
What this means: The fact that WRs are more likely to increase their fantasy PPG during the final season of their rookie contracts isn’t surprising given that the WR position tends to be one of the more difficult transitions from college to the NFL. Fantasy managers have been spoiled by Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson the past two seasons, but the majority of young WRs require a few seasons in the NFL to establish themselves as consistent contributors. Research has shown that a WR’s prime years are generally between ages 25 and 28, with age 27 most likely to be the pinnacle of production. So WRs improving their PPG in the final year of their rookie contracts makes sense when rookie contracts can range from 3-5 years. The final season of WR rookie contracts is usually taking place as the player enters or is already within his prime in most circumstances. With this being the case, WRs entering the final season of their rookie contracts are good bets to increase their production and may present draft-day bargains assuming that their potential bump in production isn’t already baked into their ADP.
Deebo Samuel 2022 Fantasy Football Outlook
Deebo Samuel made me pay the price for overlooking him, as the talented wideout finished last season as the WR2 overall and in points per game (18.8). His receiving production alone would have him placed inside the top-10.
But there’s reason to believe that Samuel won’t be able to sustain that same elite production from last season. Natural regression is firmly in play considering no WR earned more fantasy points above expectation than Samuel did in 2021.
And that number doesn’t come as a surprise considering nearly 30% of Samuel’s fantasy points came from rushing alone.
– Andrew Erickson
Before excelling in the “wide back” role for the 49ers, Deebo Samuel was already an elite option at wide receiver for fantasy football. Last year in Weeks 1-9, he was the WR2 in fantasy points per game behind only Cooper Kupp. Over that stretch, Samuel was leading all wide receivers in yards per route run (minimum 25 targets, per PFF). He averaged an insane 10.1 targets, 6.1 receptions, and 110.3 receiving yards per game, so “wide back” or no “wide back” matters very little. Samuel is a top 12 wide receiver in 2022.
– Derek Brown
Deebo Samuel‘s 2022 Contract Situation
- Odds he is the starter in SF: 85%
- Odds he is released/traded: 15%
- Who to draft in fantasy if he cut/traded: George Kittle
Analysis: If Deebo Samuel isn’t in the starting lineup this season in San Francisco, we should be punching George Kittle‘s ticket to the moon. Over the last three seasons, Kittle has finished in the top four at his position in fantasy points per game and yards per route run (minimum 20 targets per PFF) each season. If Samuel isn’t there to compete with him for the alpha role in this passing offense, Kittle should be in contention to be the TE1 overall in 2022.
– Derek Brown
2022 Fantasy Football Staff Consensus Rankings
If you want to dive deeper into fantasy football, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you navigate your season. From our Start/Sit Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup based on accurate consensus projections – to our Trade Analyzer – which allows you to instantly find out if a trade offer benefits you or your opponent – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football season.