Posted May 21, 2017
It goes without saying that big time players make big time plays when it matters. That has been a classic motif throughout the existence of sports. But time and time again, it has proven to be the standard.
#2 Michigan, #3 Ohio State. The biggest rivalry in all of college football. Tied at 17 at the end of regulation. The game went to two overtime periods and with the Wolverines leading by a field goal in the second OT, all Ohio State needed was a touchdown.
Enter Curtis Samuel.
Ohio State’s Swiss Army knife of a football player lined up to the right of J.T. Barrett, took a buck sweep to the sideline, and used his vision and patience to score and solidify the Buckeyes in the College Football Playoff, while essentially ending Michigan’s season. While Ohio State would eventually lose to Clemson, Curtis Samuel’s moment will not be forgotten in the hearts of Buckeye fans.
To the college football purist, Samuel’s game resembles the perfect H-back mold that Urban Meyer implements in his offense. The dual threat of receiving and running is becoming more and more valuable as the game of football evolves. These hybrid players are creating a niche for themselves in the NFL. Compared below are two of Meyer’s eerily similar H-backs:
|Height / Weight||5’11 / 185 lbs|
|40 Yard Dash||4.41|
|Bench Press||19 Reps|
|Career College Rushing Stats (Attempts, Yards, TD’s, YPC)||194 Att, 1852 Yards, 19 TD’s, 9.5 YPC|
|Career College Receiving Stats (Catches, Yards, TD’s, YPR)||133 Rec, 1929 Yards, 13 TD’s, 14.5 YPR|
|Round Drafted||1st Round|
|Height / Weight||5’11 / 196 lbs|
|40 Yard Dash||4.31|
|Bench Press||18 Reps|
|Career College Rushing Stats
(Attempts, Yards, TD’s, YPC)
|172 Att, 1286 Yards, 15 TD’s, 7.5 YPC|
|Career College Receiving Stats
(Catches, Yards, TD’s, YPR)
|107 Rec, 1249 Yards, 9 TD’s, 11.7 YPR|
|Round Drafted||2nd Round|
Player B is both bigger and much faster than Player A, and while Player A was the main weapon of his respected offense, Player B did much of his damage in his final year. One could guess that Player B would dominate Player A’s numbers if he was the centerpiece for at least another year. So who is who?
Player A is Percy Harvin, the dynamic rusher and pass catcher for Florida’s dominating run in the late 2000’s. Harvin was a decorated member of the Gators, who won two national championships, and while in college, he won SEC Freshman of the Year, All-American as a wide receiver, and All-SEC honors in his final two years as an all-purpose player and as a receiver. Harvin was a household name while in college.
Player B is Curtis Samuel.
Samuel was used sparingly his first two years at Ohio State, as the offense focused on Ezekiel Elliott and had other pass catchers such as Michael Thomas, Jalin Marshall, Devin Smith, and Braxton Miller. It wasn’t until all those players found NFL teams that Samuel could really contribute. In the following table, Samuel’s junior year is compared to both of Harvin’s huge seasons:
|Curtis Samuel Junior Year||Percy Harvin Sophomore Year||Percy Harvin Junior Year|
|771 Rushing Yards||764 Rushing Yards||660 Rushing Yards|
|8 Touchdowns||6 Rushing Touchdowns||10 Rushing Touchdowns|
|74 Catches||59 Catches||40 Catches|
|865 Yards||858 Receiving Yards||644 Receiving Yards|
|7 Touchdowns||4 Receiving Touchdowns||7 Receiving Touchdowns|
Curtis Samuel scored more touchdowns than Percy Harvin’s sophomore breakout and Samuel also had more yards than Harvin’s final year at Florida.
That being said, this is not an assertion that Curtis Samuel will be a better pro than Percy Harvin. It is to say that the two are similar and Harvin’s fantasy relevance bodes well for Samuel. Will it?
McCaffrey, then Samuel?
Curtis Samuel would be rising up rookie draft boards if he had been the sole draft pick for the Carolina Panthers on the offensive side of the ball. But the Panthers selected Christian McCaffrey, one of the best pass-catching running backs coming out of college. McCaffrey’s track record, repertoire of skills, and the draft capital invested in the former Stanford All-American leads me to believe he will be the focus of the Panthers offense. This is definitely an area of concern, as Cam Newton struggles to throw the ball within five yards and less (55%, which is dead last in the NFL)
To me, this stat just says “I haven’t had the guys around me to complete the ball with ease.” Sure, Jonathan Stewart had the ability to catch passes early in his career (47 in 2011), but hasn’t eclipsed 25 since. McCaffrey should fix this issue. To see him get 150 carries and 50 catches is not out of the question as a rookie.
Now this is pertinent because Curtis Samuel is already fighting for targets. The most important thing for wide receivers in fantasy football is targets. Samuel is entering an offense with an already established Greg Olsen, Kelvin Benjamin, and Devin Funchess. While Samuel could get more targets than Funchess, I don’t see a way that he receives more targets than Olsen or Benjamin, barring injury. Throw in McCaffrey, who is supposed to command the intermediate portion of the field, and Samuel will more than likely be fourth at best for targets on the Panthers.
Despite what was said above, Curtis Samuel’s H-Back role at Ohio State makes him an intriguing fantasy prospect. I could see Samuel getting fly sweeps into the open field (where he is most dangerous), fade routes from the slot, and even be involved with Newton and McCaffrey in the backfield. He will have boom games and he will have bust games; one game he may have two rushing touchdowns and a receiving touchdown, and other games he might have a catch for four yards. His production could mirror that of Tavon Austin, who has a couple monster games a season, but gives you very little the other 7 to 8 games.
As of today, Fantasy Football Calculator has Curtis Samuel going in the middle of the second round of rookie drafts, which is a good spot for him. He is behind projected starting running backs, starting receivers, and handcuffs to valuable running backs, such as Donta Foreman, Jeremy McNichols, and Jamaal Williams. He is also going behind the top three tight ends. However, Samuel will have some of the highest potential of guys going in the second round, such as Cooper Kupp, Carlos Henderson, and Evan Engram. In a rookie draft, pairing a running back like Joe Mixon, Samaje Perine, or Dalvin Cook with Curtis Samuel gives you a valuable pairing of a starting running back and a receiver with great potential.
As 2017 is concerned, it is not as pretty for the former Ohio State star. In redraft leagues, Samuel is down in the double digit rounds, which might intrigue some people into taking him as a late round flyer. In standard leagues, he is going in the back half of the 13th round, which means he is virtually free. In PPR drafts, he is going even later, as he is being selected in the middle of the 14th round. It might prove to be a decent investment late, as you are paying nothing to get him and he can give you boom games as a result of his speed. Samuel will likely generate some “rookie” hype and separate himself from wide receivers going this late, such as Will Fuller, Michael Floyd, and Taylor Gabriel. While Samuel won’t make a large impact until a few years in the NFL, he could give you WR2 weeks and could be a WR4/5 at the end of the year. Not a bad investment for a guy you can get for free in drafts, but do not go expecting him to be anything more than a plug and play DFS guy. Curtis Samuel will be a volatile guy his rookie season and will be valued more as an actual football player than a fantasy player.
Rushing-25 Carries, 165 Yards, 2 Touchdowns
Receiving- 40 Receptions, 470 Yards, 3 Touchdowns
Picture of Curtis Samuel from Google Images
Passer Rating 5 Yards Deep or Less Graph courtesy of Pat Thorman from Twitter