Draft or Pass: Is Deebo Samuel a Legit Upcoming Fantasy Star?

SI Fantasy's Jaime Eisner and 49ers reporter Grant Cohn discuss whether Deebo Samuel will continue his ascent toward fantasy stardom.
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It's never too early to start your fantasy football research, and we here at SI Fantasy want to provide you with the best information possible heading into your drafts. Our "Draft or Pass" video series takes a closer look at a fantasy player that will be debated, often leading up to fantasy drafts. Are our hosts targeting this player specifically? Are they avoiding him entirely?

Today's video focuses on San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel.

Draft or Pass at current ADP: 70.0 (WR32)?

Although much of the 49ers' offensive success was predicated on running, rookie wide receiver Deebo Samuel emerged as a significant fantasy asset in the back-half of the 2019 season. He finished as the WR36 overall and WR40 on a fantasy points per game basis but was even better once he had another weapon alongside him in Emmanuel Sanders.

Following Sanders' addition in Week 8, Samuel finished the fantasy season as the WR16 overall and WR23 on a per-game basis (WR8 overall and WR20 per-game if you include Week 17). He went from averaging 4.4 targets per game in his first five games to averaging 5.9 per game in the ten games to finish the regular season and 6.0 targets per game in the playoffs.

Sanders is now gone, but San Francisco did spend one of their first-round picks on former Arizona State wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, so Samuel should have the necessary counterpart to continue his success in 2020. He even gave fans a sneak preview of what the 49ers offense could look like with him, Aiyuk and another rookie, Jauan Jennings, in 2020.

The WR32 last season averaged 12.8 fantasy points per game in PPR formats. That's a full point per game more than Samuel's 2019 average, but 2.3 points per game fewer than his average over the final ten games of the season (including Week 17). I don't see him averaging 15-plus points for a full season, but 13 per game is doable. He's a borderline top 30 WR for 2020.

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