One of the big-name free-agent moves of the offseason, Curtis Samuel has had a rocky start with the Washington Football Team thus far. And, due to injuries, he’s forced fantasy football managers into a difficult dilemma on whether to start or sit him in Week 5. With kickoff in just a few hours, how should fantasy managers approach Samuel’s situation? He is clearly less than 100%.
Should you start or sit Curtis Samuel in Week 5?
2021 has been a season to forget so far for Samuel, who has missed the majority of the campaign with a groin injury. He enters Week 5 against the New Orleans Saints a true game-time decision.
According to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport, Samuel is expected to play, but it hinges on how he feels as he goes through pregame warm-ups. Luckily, Washington has the 1 PM ET game, so we will know the final status of Samuel in the first window of NFL inactives.
With Logan Thomas on injured reserve and Antonio Gibson dealing with a stress fracture in his shin, Samuel — if healthy — could be in for a sizeable workload. However, the risk of further re-aggravation also means he could tweak his injury early and leave for the rest of the game with a goose egg in the scoring column.
Personally, I would sit Samuel in Week 5 and look for a better option in fantasy this week. While you won’t find someone necessarily as talented as Samuel, they would likely be a safer option.
Check the waiver wire for someone like Tim Patrick, who is 10th in fantasy points per target at 2.54. Or maybe Kadarius Toney, who is coming off a 9-target game and has both Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard out for Sunday. Even stick with the same game and use J.D. McKissic if you can slot him into your flex.
When healthy, Curtis Samuel will be a fantasy asset
When he is not making us cry in the club with his pregame ritual with D.J. Moore, Samuel is one of the most versatile receivers in the NFL.
In 2020, Samuel greatly benefited from the creativity of Joe Brady, who unlocked a player we all believed was there. In 15 games, Samuel set career highs in catches, reception percentage, and yards. Targeted 97 times, Samuel caught 77 passes for 851 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also set personal records as a rusher, carrying the ball 41 times for 200 yards and 2 touchdowns.
This breakout was a welcome sign of relief to longtime fantasy managers of Samuel. From 2018 to 2019, Samuel only saw a 14.8% target share (170 targets), catching 93 passes (54.7%) for 1,121 yards and 11 touchdowns. He did see some work in the rushing game, carrying the ball 27 times for 214 yards and 3 touchdowns, but nothing to the extent of his 2020 breakout campaign.
Samuel cashed in during free agency as he reunited with his former head coach Ron Rivera in Washington to the tune of a three-year, $34.5 million contract, including a $12 million signing bonus and $23 million fully guaranteed.
Samuel has dealt with a nagging groin injury this summer
While I am sure we want him in our lineups, Washington wants Samuel on its active roster even more. Since the spring, Samuel has been dealing with a nagging groin injury and managed only a couple of practices all summer before the team shut him down and placed him on short-term IR.
At first glance, it seemed the time off allowed his injury to fully heal. But the news of Samuel as a DNP on both Wednesday and Thursday could mean he re-aggravated the soft tissue injury last week. In his debut last Sunday, he caught 4 passes for 19 yards on 22 offensive snaps.
Once he is fully healthy, Samuel will be a critical component of the Washington offense as the No. 2 option in the passing game alongside Terry McLaurin.