In The Blitz, RotoViz writers react to the latest news and help you place it within the context of our 2020 research and recommendations.
Few teams have dealt with injuries to their offensive playmakers quite to the degree of the San Francisco 49ers. Multiple wide receivers and running backs have made appearances on the injury report (or injured reserve) this season, yet the team finds itself 2-1. The mounting injuries allowed one rookie in particular to flash his potential in Week 3.
San Francisco 49ers rookie wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk was an offensive focal point for the team in Week 3 against the New York Giants. Aiyuk caught five of his eight targets for 70 yards and also carried the ball three times for 31 yards and a touchdown. Aiyuk led all 49ers in receptions, receiving yards, and targets. Deebo Samuel (foot) and George Kittle (knee) could return next week and that would complicate the target share for Aiyuk. However, Aiyuk will be a popular waiver-wire option regardless after this performance. His breakout game was even more impressive considering that backup quarterback Nick Mullens was under center, filling in for Jimmy Garoppolo (ankle).
Aiyuk was a bit of a surprising pick. He went just three selections after Justin Jefferson in the first round. Sporting a limited college production profile, Aiyuk did have a solid final season at Arizona State.
However, a closer look revealed why the 49ers were so excited to land their guy. In his final college season, he finished second in the nation in regular-season yards after the catch. That style of play fits perfectly with how Kyle Shanahan operates. His scheme of quickly getting the ball into his players’ hands and letting them work in space has been incredibly successful.
Despite not having an extensive production profile, Aiyuk does garner some fantastic comps.
DeAndre Hopkins and Calvin Ridley give us more than enough reasons to get excited about Aiyuk.
How To Play It
In Week 3, the 49ers were without Samuel, Kittle, Raheem Mostert, and Tevin Coleman. This left ample opportunity for Aiyuk. Still, he made the most of his chances and likely earned himself more snaps and opportunities moving forward. Even more impressive, the 49ers racked up 36 points in a road tilt with the New York Giants with backup quarterback Mullens under center.
Talk about a coach getting the most out of his players.
Even before the NFL Draft, Neil Dutton tabbed Aiyuk as the next Samuel. This astute observation was spot on, so much so that the 49ers now own both dynamic playmakers. As mentioned, the injuries have piled up, which has opened the door for Aiyuk to produce. If Kittle and Samuel, along with Mostert and Coleman, are close to returning, Aiyuk could find himself with limited touches.
This scenario opens up a buying window. Aiyuk was probably not drafted in some redraft leagues but could have been a popular waiver add this past week. If he wasn’t owned before, he will be now. He’s worth a stash in redraft and worth a purchase in dynasty, especially if his teammates steal touches when they return. Shanahan gets the most out of his players, and Aiyuk’s draft capital signifies they have big plans for him moving forward.