Curtis Samuel, John Brown & Tee Higgins See Fantasy Value Rise
Getty Images. Pictured: Curtis Samuel, John Brown, Tee Higgins
The height of NFL free agency is behind us. With signings and trades shifting the league as a result, our analysts are here to break down the most noteworthy moves for fantasy football.
Below they highlight three fantasy wide receivers whose value have seen the biggest boosts so far this offseason.
Free Agency Winners: WRs
|Curtis Samuel, Washington|
|John Brown, Raiders|
|Tee Higgins, Bengals|
Curtis Samuel, Washington
Sean Koerner: I love this landing spot for a few reasons.
- The Football Team signing Ryan Fitzpatrick gives the entire offense a boost.
- The Football Team lacked a true No. 2 WR across from Terry McLaurin. Now Samuel should be the clear-cut No. 2 in this offense and see a higher target share as a result.
- New WFT offensive coordinator Scott Turner was the quarterbacks coach for Samuel’s last team, the Panthers, in 2020 and should know how to maximize Samuel’s skill set within the offense.
Samantha Previte: Samuel has been one of the more intriguing signings of the offseason.
The former Buckeye inked a three-year, $34.5 million contract with the Washington Football Team as one of the first major WR dominoes to fall.
Samuel, 24, was selected in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft and had spent his first four seasons as a member of the Panthers. The speedy wideout — who ran a 4.31 40-yard dash at the combine — is coming off his best season to date in which he caught 77 passes for 851 yards and three touchdowns across 15 games.
In spite of his strong 2020 showing, Samuel finished as the Panthers’ third-best receiver behind D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson. Now Samuel should have less competition on the Washington depth chart, of which fellow Ohio State product Terry McLaurin is the lone threat.
Ryan Fitzpatrick — whom the Football Team also signed in free agency — should be an upgrade from Teddy Bridgewater in Carolina. The 38-year-old journeyman passed for 2,091 yards in seven starts last year and should provide higher upside for Samuel than Bridgewater, who has never been a particularly prolific passer.
The fantasy outlook is overall positive for Samuel, who finished as WR27 last season and could easily flirt with WR2 numbers this year.
John Brown, Raiders
Matthew Freedman: I am THE original truther for John Brown, so it’s almost mandatory for me to highlight him here.
In a vacuum, his landing spot is not great: Brown is a downfield receiver, and quarterback Derek Carr has historically targeted teammates closer to the line of scrimmage. On top of that, the Raiders could have serious offensive line struggles after parting with multiple starters this offseason.
But Carr is coming off the best two seasons of his career (8.1 adjusted yards per attempt) under head coach Jon Gruden and offensive coordinator Greg Olson, and last year Carr was dynamic enough as a passer to revitalize the then-moribund professional existence of wide receiver Nelson Agholor, who came from nowhere to have a career- and position-best 48-896-8 receiving.
If Agholor could do that last year, then Brown — who has two 1,000-yard seasons to his name — can do it this year.
Tight end Darren Waller is highly likely to lead the Raiders in targets, but after him, there is little competition for aerial opportunity. Wide receivers Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards are both unproven, and slot receiver Hunter Renfrow has been steadily mediocre for two seasons.
With his combination of speed, experience and skill, Brown has a reasonable chance to beat out Ruggs, Edwards and Renfrow for targets and emerge as the No. 2 receiving option within the offense.
Going after Round 20 in most leagues, Brown offers outsized upside.
Tee Higgins, Bengals
Chris Raybon: A.J. Green, bless his soul, played like a dude who was all the way washed last year: He caught just 45.2% of his passes for 5.0 yards per target. The issue was that Joe Burrow — being the rookie he was — was not going to disrespect the longtime franchise great, and so Green ended up leading the Bengals with a whopping 32% air-yard share.
By all measures, Higgins had an excellent rookie year, posting 67 grabs for 908 yards and six scores on 108 targets. But Green’s withering skill-set was the only thing standing between Higgins and an absolute monster year.
Higgins finished second on the Bengals with a 27% air-yard share last season and should easily clear 30% this year. Year 2 is when wide receivers tend to take the biggest leaps, and Burrow has massive upside as well, putting Higgins’ upside squarely in top-five territory.
Higgins posted a top-30 fantasy season last year despite the presence of Green. With the veteran out of the picture, Higgins has already ascended to WR20 in Average Draft Position and is deserving of every bit of that climb — with upside for more.