I've written an awful lot about Deebo Samuel so far this season. And for good reason.
The 49ers young wideout has quickly become one of the most electric and productive players in the NFL. While one might assume that he saw a lot more action in the air, the truth is his success has been more out of the backfield as a running back.
Diving into the stats, Samuel is tied for fifth with 1,405 yards receiving this season and tied for 25th with six receiving touchdowns. He leads the NFL in yards per catch at 18.2. That alone would be good enough to hold down a starting wide receiver job in the NFL.
However, Samuel has been seeing more touches on the ground than targets in the air over the last four games, and eight of his last nine. While Samuel continues to do a lot with his limited targets, his explosion of production on the ground is undeniable. In his last 10 games, Samuel has eight rushing touchdowns including one against the Cowboys in the Wild Card round. The Packers did a good job of containing him both in the air on the ground with Samuel totaling 83 all-purpose yards and no touchdowns.
This is important from a sports betting standpoint as Samuel is becoming a difficult player to bet on due to his inconsistent usage in the passing game. It is very unusual for a starting receiver of Samuel’s caliber to see less than 16 percent of the target share in the playoffs. His player props, therefore, are a bit of a mess some weeks.
Samuel has games like he did against Tennessee with 159 yards receiving off of 11 targets. But, then you have games where Samuel has 12 yards in the air but rushes six times for 66 yards and two touchdowns.
While all players deal with some level of inconsistency, Samuel's ups and downs have nothing to do with his skill. It’s all part of the Niners game plan. So far in the postseason, his sporadic usage has continued with 25 snaps out of the backfield and 57 as a wideout. He is getting 30 percent of the 49ers’ overall carries and has been the most productive scoring back the 49ers have.
While it’s hard to fade a quality player such as Samuel, it might be a good move when it comes to his passing props. Over his last two games, he has just seven targets total and 20 rushing attempts.
While I love watching Samuel play, due to all this back and forth, it has become very hard to wager on him in the player prop market. The best tip I have for this would be to focus on his rushing stats and view him as a running back who gets work in the passing game.