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ASU Football: Fantasy Football Outlook- 49ers Brandon Aiyuk

Where to project former Devil Brandon Aiyuk

For a rookie debuting as a first-round pick in the NFL, you're expected to produce in a major way on the gridiron. When it comes to producing as a fantasy football player, expectations may be lowered thanks to an already established crop of receivers throughout the league. In some cases, rookie receivers will go fairly high in fantasy drafts such as Amari Cooper and Calvin Ridley did.

The case does not appear to be the same for San Francisco 49ers rookie receiver Brandon Aiyuk, who has an ADP (average draft position) of 218, going mostly undrafted in fantasy drafts. currently has Aiyuk ranked as the 58th ranked receiver in fantasy football heading into 2020, one spot above fellow Sun Devil N'Keal Harry.

"With Deebo Samuel slated to miss time, Aiyuk is likely to lead the 49ers receivers in targets over the first few weeks," said FantasyPros expert Mike Tagliere on Aiyuk. "Knowing the schedule starts with the Cardinals, Jets, and Giants, he might get off to a hot start… Knowing Garoppolo was arguably the best deep-ball passer in the league last year, that seems like a match. The issue is that the 49ers had him throw deep just 6.5 percent of the time, which was the lowest in the league. We need those numbers to go up for Aiyuk to truly explode. Knowing his early-season schedule, it's not a bad idea to snag him as a WR5 and see what happens."

The 49ers' receiving corps begins with impressive second-year player Deebo Samuel, who will eventually retain his role upon becoming healthy as the lead receiver after the obvious target monster that is George Kittle.

After that, Aiyuk's main competition rests between the likes of Kendrick Bourne, Richie James and Dante Pettis.

Those who watched Aiyuk at Arizona State have no doubts surrounding his talents. However, Aiyuk's main obstacle in achieving fantasy greatness appears to be opportunity as a potential third option on a 49ers team that threw the ball just 478 times in 2019, fourth-lowest in the entire league. Between the departures of Emmanuel Sanders, Matt Breida and Marquise Goodwin, 96 targets remain up for grabs should San Francisco maintain their rate of passing.

That number bodes well for Aiyuk, although the wealth will likely be distributed to more than just Aiyuk. With San Francisco passing the ball for an average of 8.4 yards per attempt (second-highest in the league) in 2019, it's evident Aiyuk's deep-ball prowess can be a successful match with Garoppolo.

ESPN's fantasy evaluation of Aiyuk, who is rostered in just 25% of ESPN fantasy leagues, in 2020:

"Aiyuk comes in at 6-foot, 205 pounds with 4.50 40-yard speed, as well as terrific explosiveness and route-running ability. The Arizona State product's best asset is his post-catch production (10.5 RAC in 2019), which helped him to plenty of big plays at ASU. Aiyuk doesn't have a ton of competition for early-career snaps, but he should be considered a long shot for weekly fantasy value in a super-run-heavy 49ers' offense that will lean heavily on George Kittle and Deebo Samuel. He's worth only a late-round pick."

Despite suffering a minor hamstring injury in training camp, Aiyuk appears all but set to have an early yet important opportunity to make an impact. The early returns from the former Sun Devil in 49ers camp has been nothing short of praiseworthy. ESPN's Matthew Berry Top 200 fantasy football rankings for 2020 saw Aiyuk land at 125, higher than other rookie receivers such as Henry Ruggs, Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb.

2019 saw Emmanuel Sanders and Deebo Samuel finish as the 30th and 31st ranked receivers, respectively. On top of Kittle dominating the tight end landscape with Travis Kelce, this proves the potential for pass catchers to produce in San Francisco despite the limited amount of passes thrown.

Do I think Aiyuk is about to establish himself worthy of a first-round pick in 2021 fantasy drafts? I do not. I also do not recommend drafting Aiyuk as a starting receiver in your lineup. However, Aiyuk provides a solid selection at the end of fantasy drafts to stash on your bench. The upside is crystal clear in Aiyuk's case, and with a tremendously low ADP, you'll be pressed to find hidden gems more likely to pay off in the later parts of your draft.