Can you believe it’s Donkey Teeth’s last week at Ghostbusters Fantasy Camp? Pretty soon he’ll be back from the upside-down, completely normal and unchanged from battling demons in the abyss. He even sent me a message on the Ouija board yesterday! It said, “Listen to the podcasts backwards.” So I took the ol’ pod, played it backwards and slowed it down a bunch to match the slow jam vibe I was feeling. And wouldn’t you know? There were secret messages hidden within! The first message was, “Mitch Trubisky sold his soul to get drafted before Mahomes.” Now we know! The second message? Well, it’s that Curtis Samuel is a sleeper for 2021 fantasy football!
Curtis Samuel is a weird player. He was basically the super-utility man on the Carolina Panthers the past few years, taking passes and working out of the backfield upon occasion. He’s a free agent in 2021, but has shown flashes that give value to best ball players and deep head-to-head leagues.
I mean, pick a player who was drafted after the 150th pick the past few years yet finished as a top 50 WR each year, including a top 30 WR in 2020. Because that’s Curtis Samuel. He only “started” 5 games in 2020 and finished as a top 30 WR with nearly 100 targets and 77 passes caught. He’s capable of playing deep or short, with massive shifts in his utility under coaches Ron Rivera (who sent him downfield for an average of 14+ yards aDOT) and Matt Rhule (who kept him close for an aDOT of 7.3). In 2020, Curtis added an additional 200 yards on the ground on 40 rushes due to the extreme number of injuries the Panthers faced. Super-utility means touches, and that’s what we want in fantasy football (just get consent first!).
I mean, if you called the guy James White (260 yards rushing, 72 catches for 645 yards in 2019, missed much of 2020 due to personal reasons), Samuel would be a consensus top 100 player. James White went in the 70s last year. But instead, Samuel gets the “WR” designation and gets tossed into “forgotten” pile because he doesn’t have a lead role. And that’s fine, because opportunity sets the pace for projections. However, when upside and versatility show up on the field, that can be a projection breaker. No need to look further than James Robinson’s 2020 to see the results.
It will be important to watch Curtis Samuel’s eventual landing spot in free agency. If he signs with a team that uses him purely for depth, his fantasy value drops precipitously. However, if he signs with a team that utilizes him in the slot or super-utility roles that the Panthers used him in, that could be great fantasy value with very little cost. Samuel has finished in the top 50 WR three years straight without being a “true” starer, and more playing time could be a boon to fantasy managers. With the Detroit Lions basically doing a complete restart on offense in 2021, Samuel could easily take a starting gig in the Motor City and be in line for 70+ targets, which would give him the floor of a FLEX receiver in 12-team leagues or a WR3 in deeper leagues.
What are your thoughts on Curtis Samuel’s 2021 season? Leave a comment below and let us know! Have an awesome week!