In ‘Extra Yards’, we examine players whose teams use them in different ways. Their usage in other offensive areas could give the ‘oomph’ you need to win. In this installment, we examine the rushing receivers.
Considering I am a Panthers fan, it is remarkable that I haven’t spoken about my team since I started at 5 Yard Rush. But fantasy sports writing makes you consider the world outside your favourite team. It gives you an deeper appreciation of everyone involved in the sport. And so my team affiliation and Samuel’s inclusion on this list is nothing short of a coincidence.
It just so happens that Curtis Samuel was the player who received the most rushing attempts of any receiver in the NFL last year. The Panther wideout was given 19 rushing attempts during the season, and picked up 130 yards in the process.
Samuel converted to Wide Receiver from Running Back when he made the transition to the NFL. In college, he ran for nearly 800 yards in his junior year at Ohio State, picking up 8 touchdowns. He passed on his senior year to make the move to the big leagues, and Carolina took him as a 2nd round pick in the 2017 draft. Of course, the Panthers had just taken Christian McCaffrey in the previous round, so Curtis’ chances of being a lead back were virtually none.
RUN PANTHER RUN
Samuel was used mainly in moves around the outside of the offensive line, and saw some big gains for the team. Altogether, his average came out as 6.8 yards per carry. He even managed to bag himself a touchdown with a smooth right end run against the Bucs during the London series.
This average was actually the lowest rushing average Samuel has seen in his time at the Panthers. Although he was used a lot less in his rookie year, his 4 attempts managed to produce 64 yards, and averaged 16 yards per carry. His second year saw a drop in average (10.5) but did give the team 2 extra rushing touchdowns.
So, as well as seeing his largest haul of receiving yardage in 2019, what difference did the rushing make to his fantasy points? Using PPR scoring, Samuel’s receiving stats for the year would have given him 152.7 points. That alone would have put him down at WR45. His rushing yardage and single touchdown adds on an extra 19 points. That accounts for an additional 11% of his final total – 171.7 points. That took him up 9 ranks to WR36.
CRITICAL TO SUCCESS
Despite his relatively low finish last season, Samuel led the Panthers’ wideout group in receiving touchdowns last season, with 6. And he already has fans in the new management team. Offensive coordinator Joe Brady has come out to say that Samuel will be ‘critical’ to the success of the outfit this season. With a definitive upgrade at Quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater, this should help in the quality of receptions that Samuel sees this season. This should also help other players in the Panthers passing game. Of all Panthers players that saw over 5 targets last season, only Christian McCaffrey recorded a completion percentage of over 70%.
With Bridgewater calling the shots, expect to see all Carolina Wide Receivers get a boost this season. And, with no expected changes in the Running Back position, it would be prudent to consider that Curtis Samuel will still be running in some regard. And that anticipated boost in the pass game could be reinforced with another decent return in the running game.
It seems like deja-vu writing about Deebo so soon after Pittsy released his article about the Niners’ Wide Receiver!
But the San Fran wide man picked up the most rushing yards from a receiver in 2019, racking up 159 yards over the course of 14 rushing attempts. This return beat his namesake Curtis by 29 yards. He even finished ahead of Running Back Jeff Wilson- who only managed 105 yards over 27 runs. Deebo even managed to get 3 touchdowns in the process.
Unlike his namesake from the previous segment, Deebo Samuel’s four college years at South Carolina saw him marked down as a Wide Receiver. However, he did have some involvement in the running game. His Sophomore year return of 98 yards from 15 attempts actually gave the Gamecocks six extra touchdowns that year. He didn’t produce the same rushing output in the remaining college years that followed. But this revelation in his second year must have been enough for the Niners coaches to sit up and notice. And they clearly used it to their advantage during Deebo’s rookie year.
Deebo had shown that he could catch a ball during his senior year at South Carolina, putting up nearly 900 yards and 11 touchdowns. But anyone who only looked at his senior year stat line would not have seen what he could do with his feet two years previous. And the Niners released that with great effect.
TACKING ON THE EXTRA
So, what did the extra rushing involvement do for Deebo’s 2019 score? Using the PPR scoring, relying solely on his receiving return would have given him 153.2 points – enough for WR44. However, add on his rushing extras and there is a large boost. His 159 yards and 3 touchdowns put on an extra 33.9 points. That makes up 18% of his final fantasy points total, and enough to push him up 12 spaces to WR32.
Unfortunately, Deebo’s foot injury does keep him out for the near future. And due to this, many people have started to overlook Samuel due to his unavailability at the start of the season. But games have not even begun yet – and many fantasy drafters (including Pittsy – if you’ve read his article) have already been taking advantage of Samuel’s ADP drop.
Naturally, there are concerns that Deebo may not perform to the same level as his rookie year due to the nature of the injury. And worries that the percentage of his fantasy points that came from rushing may not be as large this year. But Deebo has shown he can produce in receiving as well. Over 800 air yards is a fantastic return for a rookie – and aiming to beat his return of 3 touchdowns would certainly give him further fantasy relevance on that side of the ball as well.
Bobby Trees! Who would have thought that he would have featured on this list?
Woods had a massive part to play in the Rams air attack last season. He saw the most targets in the team. He caught 90 receptions. And both he and fellow Ram Cooper Kupp put up over 1100 yards a piece. It marked another four figure return for Woods – his second in the row.
But, while his two receiving touchdowns doesn’t do those other stats justice, Woods’ 2019 receiving game was still a success. Furthermore, he also made his mark on the Rams rushing game.
Behind the ‘Samuel’ boys, Woods produced the third-most rushing yards from a Wide Receiver in 2019. He was given a rushing attempt in 9 of the 16 regular season games, and ended up adding 115 yards to the team’s tally. He even ran in a touchdown against San Francisco, one of the toughest defenses in the league.
This put him at fourth in the 2019 Rams rushing charts, behind the three leading Running Backs from last season. He was only 32 yards behind third-placed Darrell Henderson.
DONE IT BEFORE, DO IT AGAIN
This year’s ground output echoes the similar role that he saw in 2018. Woods picked up 157 yards for the Rams that year, and also got himself another rushing touchdown. Again, that found him fourth in the rushing charts, this time behind Malcolm Brown.
Now, with Todd Gurley in Atlanta and Cam Akers newly drafted, there is uncertainty in the Rams backfield. With this comes opportunity for Woods. While the Running Back situation sorts itself out, the Rams coordinators know that the Woods can be relied on to add that extra dimension. We may well see more plays being used that involve the Wide Receiver in that side of the offense.
ROBERT’S RUSH POINTS
So what difference did Woods’ rush involvement make to his points? On its own, the receiving side of his game already pushes him well ahead of both Deebo and Curtis. 215.4 points puts him at WR22 – the bottom end of WR2. This is with only 2 receiving touchdowns!
But add on his rushing involvement and he hits 232.9 points. That’s an extra 17.5 points – which makes up 7.5% of his total.
Let’s put that into perspective. Robert Woods saw over ten targets in six of sixteen games. In those games alone, Woods got tackled at the five yard line twice – once against the Panthers and one against the Bucs. Those drives produced touchdowns, but not for Woods. If Woods had picked up those TDs rather than the other players, he would have gained 10 extra yards and 2 extra touchdowns. That’s 13 more points – which would tally him up to 245.9 points. That increase alone would have made him the WR9.
Now, if you keep those touchdowns but take away the 17.5 points of rushing input, that puts him back down to 228.4 points. This places him as WR20 – back outside the WR1 positions. So, it’s clear that that rushing input can make as much of a difference as the additional touchdowns. If Woods can strike lucky in the endzone – as well as maintain his rushing input – then he’s pushing for a top-tier performance next season.
OTHER PLAYERS TO CONSIDER
CHRISTIAN KIRK – The Cardinal boosted his numbers by adding on 93 yards over 10 rushing attempts. This added on another 9.3 points, which was equal to 5% of his 2019 fantasy output of 168.2 points. It might not be much, but this bump pushed him up several places to WR38.
While WR38 isn’t quite enough for WR3 tierage, Kirk followed a similar vein of Robert Woods. Impressive yardage and target volume only translated to three receiving touchdowns last season – all against the Bucs in Week 10. And, just in games where Kirk was targeted over ten times, he too found himself out of luck. Tackled within five yards of the endzone on three occasions, only to see other players score and take the glory – and the points. If he can find some more luck, then Kirk could see his number rise. And those extra rushing points could mean the difference in where he features next season.
CORDARELLE PATTERSON – The Chicago Bear added 103 yards of rushing offense on 17 attempts last season. That was 29% of his total fantasy points last season. His involvement in the passing game wasn’t that impressive – seeing less air yards than ground yards over the season. In fact, his one kick return touchdown was responsible for another 20% of his fantasy return. Barring injuries in the Bears Wide Receivers group, don’t expect Patterson to feature highly on scoring charts any time soon.
Until next time, Rush Nation,