Mining for Gold

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The Wide Receiver class from the 2020 NFL Draft was one for the ages! There have been many wide receivers who were drafted this year that have shown an elite level of talent already. Brandon Aiyuk was selected 25th overall by the San Francisco 49ers in the 2020 NFL draft. Coming out of Arizona State, Aiyuk was not as polished as some of the other receivers in his class. However, his overall talent was never in question.

Aiyuk’s stands at 6 foot and weighs in at 206 pounds. This puts him just below the NFL average of 6 foot 1 inch, however, he is slightly heavier then the league average of 200 pounds. At the NFL Combine, he ran a 4.5 second 40 yard dash, putting him in the 55th percentile of fellow players. His 128 inch broad jump put him in the 88th percentile. He also produced a 40 inch vertical, which put him in the 92nd percentile. He completed eleven reps on the bench, which was not as noteworthy, and placed him in the 21st percentile. Player Profiler ranked his burst score at an impressive 132.0 and this score was good enough to get into the 92nd percentile. All of this proved that he had superior athleticism, however, there was still some question to his overall readiness for the wide receiver position. Aiyuk’s 40.6% dominator rating and a break out age of 21.5 were sources of concern. Some wondered if he was a true top prospect in the fantasy community. Additionally, he waited to declare for the NFL until his senior year, which usually does not point to fantasy success. His extreme production jump from his junior year to senior year was also questionable. During his junior year, Ayuik had 33 receptions for 474 yards, along with 3 touchdowns. Just that following year, he jumped to 65 receptions for 1,192 yards, along with 8 touchdowns. The fear that he was a one year wonder was looming.

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The 49ers took a risk on this unbelievable athlete, despite these concerns. The coaching staff was excited to unleash their new talented wide receiver in Week 1 of the NFL season. However, Aiyuk’s debut in a 49ers uniform was delayed due to a hamstring injury he sustained in practice, causing him to miss Week 1. Upon his return in Week 2, he played 73% of the snaps. Aiyuk was only able to produce 4.1 PPR points on 3 targets in this game. The following week the 49ers wide receiver got targeted 8 times! He took advantage of this opportunity producing 70 yards on 5 receptions, along with 3 carries for 31 yards, and a touchdown. Aiyuk’s 21.2 PPR point performance landed him on many “must start” lists for Week 4 in fantasy football.

Unfortunately, in Weeks 4-6, Aiyuk would not reproduce his 21 point performance again. He only averaged 10 PPR points per game during this time. He averaged a stat line of 4.6 targets, 2.3 receptions, 24.6 yards, and .3 touchdowns while playing on a 86.7% snap share per game. This was certainly disappointing following his explosion in Week 3, where he finished as WR13. In Week 7 against the Patriots, Aiyuk broke out again. He has continued to dominate while averaging a 20.9 PPR points per game. He averaged a stat line of 11.2 targets, 7.2 receptions, 99 yards and .6 touchdowns. He did this while maintaining a 88.2% snap share per game over the past 8 weeks.

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We are in the final weeks of the fantasy football playoffs. If you roster Aiyuk, he will have an opportunity to help you win your league! He may only sit at WR30 for the season, but this past Sunday he balled out! He posted a 22.9 PPR point performance, which was good enough for a WR10 finish (depending on Monday Night Football). At this point, the 49ers appeared to have lost Deebo Samuel due to a hamstring injury. Aiyuk’s opportunities will dramatically increase, as Deebo is expected to miss a few weeks. This offense will be missing many key players in it’s passing game, leaving Aiyuk as the only one left who can produce at a high level.

The 49ers face the fifth easiest strength of schedule for the remainder of the season. This should be music to Aiyuk owners’ ears! In Week 15 they drew the Dallas Cowboys, who rank 2nd in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers on the season. This matchup should allow Aiyuk to post another WR1-2 performance. The following week, the 49ers will face the Arizona Cardinals, who rank 15th in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers. This is another favorable matchup for Aiyuk, and he should be able to produce WR1-2 numbers. The opportunity will be there for him to help you win your league!

Aiyuk’s stock has risen each week this season, as he has shown an ability to produce high fantasy point totals week in and week out. This trend has started a discussion of who the real WR1 is in San Francisco. Deebo Samuel has held this title until now. There is no doubt that both of these receivers are very talented, but going into 2021, we have to believe that Aiyuk will play a larger role in the offense then Samuel. There are high hopes that he will take a step forward in his development, making him a significant wide receiver in 2021. All things considered, he is on track to be high on everyone’s “off-season buy” list. This may be hard to achieve, as his fantasy owners know they struck gold with this 49ers receiver!

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