Free agent wide receiver Curtis Samuel agreed to a three-year, $34.5 million contract with the Washington Football Team on Wednesday, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. The acquisition of the speedy wide receiver is massive for the Football Team and could make this one of the most exciting offenses in fantasy football next season.
Samuel has dealt with his fair share of quarterback problems over the last two seasons, but the Football Team’s recent signing of Ryan Fitzpatrick finally gives Samuel a downfield gunslinger to unlock his tantalizing fantasy upside.
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Curtis Samuel is a true fantasy WR2 with upside
The Football Team represented one of Samuel’s better possible landing spots for fantasy football purposes. He will immediately slot in behind Terry McLaurin as the No. 2 wide receiver on an offense starved of additional receiving weapons in 2020. This is nothing against tight end Logan Thomas, but the 105 targets he saw last season are at least 25 too many, and he is better served as an ancillary receiving option.
Samuel recorded a stellar 83% catch rate in 2020, first among all wide receivers with at least 70 targets. He was lethal on his deep looks with a 77% catch rate on deep targets beyond 20-plus yards downfield, also leading the position.
The artist known as Checkdown Teddy Bridgewater logged a paltry 7.6-yard average depth of target last season, the sixth-lowest among signal-callers, but Fitzpatrick possesses a sizable 9.2-yard average depth of target over the last two seasons (10th).
Samuel is also a dynamic runner who can be used in a hybrid running back role. He notched 41 rush attempts last season, 17 more than any other wide receiver, and he forced a whopping 12 missed tackles. That 29% forced missed tackle rate would have ranked first among all running backs.
The sixth-year wideout tallied 200 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, a massive boon for fantasy managers as another avenue to gain fantasy points every week. Due to his rushing usage, Samuel’s 118 total touches last season trailed only Stefon Diggs among all wide receivers.
Samuel finished as the PPR No. 23-ranked wide receiver last season, which is probably his floor in 2021 on a much better offense with an extremely aggressive quarterback. He will be a major value in the middle rounds of fantasy drafts as an ideal WR2 with spike-week potential.
Terry McLaurin is a top-12 wide receiver
When the Fitzpatrick news first broke, it became clear that McLaurin is a bona fide top-10 fantasy wide receiver with potential top-five upside. PFF’s Sam Monson analyzed how the addition of Ryan Fitzpatrick could spell a career year for Terry McLaurin in 2021 — remember back in 2019 when Fitzpatrick carried DeVante Parker to a career year and a No. 11 fantasy finish among wide receivers with a juicy 72-1,202-9 receiving line.
Prior to the Samuel news, it felt like a real possibility that McLaurin could have a 150-target ceiling in 2021. Ryan Fitzpatrick's No. 1 wide receiver racked up the following target totals in his eight seasons with at least 10 starts:
- T.J. Houshmandzadeh: 137
- Stevie Johnson: 148, 141, 134
- Andre Johnson: 146
- Brandon Marshall: 173, 128
- DeVante Parker: 128
Unfortunately, that 150-target ceiling becomes a pipedream with Samuel in town. McLaurin saw 128 targets in 15 games (11th) last season, and that is what we should expect, with Samuel likely to command 100-plus targets of his own and Thomas remaining a formidable threat at the tight end position.
However, what McLaurin loses in target volume, he will gain in touchdown upside simply because the Football Team is a much better offense with Curtis Samuel and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Despite seeing 128 targets, McLaurin stunningly found the end zone just four times — he was one of only eight wide receivers with over 110 targets and five or fewer touchdowns.
Terry McLaurin remains a fantasy football and real-life stud who can confidently be ranked among the top 12 wide receivers.