Curtis Samuel: a review
Samuel is heading into his fourth season in the NFL. However, after his first three seasons, the production level is not up to par as a typical second-round pick usually produces. Some high production wide receivers that were drafted in the 2017 NFL draft after Samuel include JuJu Smith-Schuster (2nd round), Cooper Kupp (3rd round), Chris Godwin (3rd round), and Kenny Golladay (3rd round). Does Samuel stack up to these guys? Not quite.
How will the help of other star players elevate Curtis Samuel in 2020?
Playing behind Christian McCaffrey and DJ Moore last season, Samuel was able to take a gigantic leap in production in his third season. When defenses are focusing in on other players, coverage and attention shifts to those players, which allowed Samuel to exploit the holes in the defense.
Consequentially, this allowed him to make more plays against defenses while facing single or broken coverage. Samuel ended up totalling 54 catches from 105 targets in the 2020 season, completing the season with 627 yards receiving and six touchdowns. Each stat total either tied or exceeded amounts from his first two seasons combined.
Let’s focus on the addition of DJ Moore in the first round of the 2018 draft. Samuel was able to benefit from having another quality target added to the field to spread out the attention of the defense. During his rookie season in 2017, he finished with only 15 catches for 115 yards and zero touchdowns.
But during his second season, (first season with DJ Moore) his stats showed a drastic change, completing the season with 39 catches, 494 yards, and five touchdowns. While improving his game throughout the season and offseason, Samuel caught 24 more passes and gained 379 more yards in his second season compared to his first. He was finally able to prove to the Panthers organization that he can contribute and be a playmaker for the offense.
What will allow Curtis Samuel to take the next step in his career?
The additions of Teddy Bridgewater and Robby Anderson this offseason can potentially positively impact Samuel. With a new offensive-minded coaching staff, and a more efficient QB, it’s reasonable to expect higher production from the dynamic WR.
In an offensive scheme comparable to the New Orleans Saints, Samuel will be able to run in space after the catch, something he excels at. Throughout the 2020 season, Samuel will have a more accurate quarterback with Bridgewater (67.9% completion), compared to what he had the previous season with Kyle Allen (62%). In the 2019 season, Samuel continuously had poor throws on deep passes due to Allen’s inaccuracy and while he managed to create some separation deep, Allen struggled to find him.
He has shown that he can be outstanding alongside players who can take away the defensive coverage from him. Robby Anderson is a deep threat addition for the Panthers who has the ability to stretch the field vertically, taking away from Samuel’s deeper targets, but allowing Samuel to run underneath routes and match up with linebackers. With DJ and Anderson in the mix, the middle of the field and YAC receptions are open for a player like Samuel to secure.
Let’s not forget the additional carries that Samuel took on in 2019. Samuel carried the ball 19 times for 130 yards and a TD, a marked increase in production from his 84 yards in 2018. 100% of his plays were runs to the outside, defining a clear role for him moving forward. This only adds to his fantasy value if he can secure a consistent change of pace role alongside McCaffrey in the offense. The RB room is thin in Carolina this year, and Samuel stands to benefit from this.
What to expect in the 2020 NFL season
Going into an NFL season with a new coaching staff as well as a new and improved offense, expect Samuel’s stats to improve once again. Samuel has the potential to end the 2020 season with 60 receptions along with 750 yards if he meshes well with his new QB. He should see some regression in his TD production, grabbing six in 2019 but projected to finish the 2020 season with three of those 60 caught passes resulting in touchdowns. Add in the projected rushing production in 2020 – 30 carries for 250 yards and a couple of touchdowns and you end up with 130 points standard and 190 points in PPR.
To draft or not to draft Curtis Samuel in Fantasy Football this season?
According to Fantasy Football Calculator Curtis Samuel has an average ADP of 14.07. This means he is going at the end of nearly all fantasy drafts and is likely an afterthought bench player for deeper leagues. Other players being drafted around this position with Curtis Samuel include rookie Jalen Reagor and first round flop Corey Davis.
With these comparisons in mind, it seems sensible that if you need to draft an additional receiver for your team near the end of the draft, Samuel will be the best possible pick unless you want to roll with an unproven rookie or a long shot upside player.
You should consider Samuel a matchup-dependent flex option this season, or a bye-week filler if you’re in a pinch. He’s a mid level floor type player, who will grab you some guaranteed points and won’t have a negative impact on your lineup when it matters most. Samuel averaged 7.4 fantasy points in standard and 10.7 in PPR – not too shabby. As mentioned above, Samuel should prove to be a PPR steal this year, so go grab him at the end of your draft.
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