Brandon Aiyuk is a Smart Waiver Add for Week 4 (2020 Fantasy Football)
When the San Francisco 49ers took Brandon Aiyuk in the first round, some prognosticators were surprised to see him go before bigger-name players like Tee Higgins and Laviska Shenault. And after he caught just two passes for 21 yards in Week 2, some who added him expecting a big performance may have moved on.
But Aiyuk’s performance on Sunday should cause his skeptics to reconsider. He caught five-of-eight targets for 70 yards, and he added 31 yards and a score on the ground. With the 49ers struggling with tons of offensive injuries, Aiyuk is a great waiver pickup heading into Week 4.
That said, Deebo Samuel’s return looms over Aiyuk. Fortunately for Aiyuk, Samuel won’t be back until at least Week 5, so he should have another high-volume game against the Eagles this Sunday.
Aiyuk stands six feet tall at 205 pounds. He pairs 64th-percentile speed with 92nd-percentile burst, and those factors combine to make him an excellent weapon along the perimeter. His speed also helps him handle rushing attempts and screen passes, and his college tape is full of him turning both deep targets and short looks into massive plays.
At Arizona State, Aiyuk averaged a whopping 18.3 yards per reception. That’s much more than what Deebo Samuel averaged (14.2), and among this draft class, he beat out guys like Justin Jefferson (15.0), Henry Ruggs (17.4), and Jerry Jeudy (17.2).
So perhaps it shouldn’t be such a surprise that ProFootballFocus ranks him second amongst rookie wideouts thus far.
Highest-graded rookie WRs through W3: (min 10 targets)
1. Justin Jefferson, Vikings – 85.3
2. Brandon Aiyuk, 49ers – 71.1
3. Laviska Shenault Jr, Jaguars – 68.9 pic.twitter.com/SCbCbJkUuL
— PFF (@PFF) September 28, 2020
Sure, it’s a small sample size, but his athleticism suggests that the strong performances will keep on coming.
State of the Offense
The 49ers are struggling with a ton of injuries on both sides of the ball. On offense, they’re already down Jimmy Garoppolo, Raheem Mostert, Deebo Samuel, Tevin Coleman, and George Kittle, and both Jerick McKinnon and Jordan Reed suffered minor injuries on Sunday. While all of these guys should return at some point this season, their absences have created openings for Aiyuk.
The rookie receiver led the team in targets (8), outpacing veterans Kendrick Bourne (6) and Jordan Reed (6). That was good for a 22.9 percent target share. Add up his five catches and three rushing attempts and he logged eight total touches. That’s pretty good value for a wide receiver — for some perspective, he out-touched Calvin Ridley (6), Mike Evans (2), and DK Metcalf (4) this week.
I expect Aiyuk to keep seeing this level of volume until some of San Francisco’s other playmakers get healthy.
I’m a fan of picking up Aiyuk this week, but you shouldn’t expect this kind of production every week. He probably won’t get eight touches every game once Deebo Samuel returns in Week 5, but he’ll still have a chance to hit value on fewer touches.
Aiyuk is a fantastic spot starter in Week 4. He gets the Philadelphia Eagles, who just allowed Tyler Boyd to catch 10 passes for 125 yards and Tee Higgins to grab a pair of touchdowns. The Eagles haven’t played well this season, and if you are worried about replacing Chris Godwin or John Brown in your lineup, Aiyuk makes a great plug-and-play option.
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