Aiyuk is best valued as a No. 3 receiver you should draft in Round 7 or Round 8. There are too many mouths to feed in San Francisco, but the injury history for George Kittle, Christian McCaffrey, and Deebo Samuel suggests that may not be the case for long. Aiyuk posted career highs last year in both target share (22.6%) and yards per route run (1.91) and should remain a very efficient wide receiver as long as Brock Purdy is healthy for Week 1. We would downgrade Aiyuk a little more if Trey Lance wins the job because we would expect a more run-heavy offense with less pass volume.
Aiyuk is coming off a strong 2022 season.
He set career highs in targets, catches, receiving yards, and receiving TDs – plus advanced metrics like Pro Football Focus receiving grade and yards per route run.
Still, he finished just 25th among WRs in PPR points per game and 23rd in non-PPR, largely because the 49ers ranked 26th in pass attempts.
Volume remains a concern for Aiyuk in 2023, especially with stiff target competition in Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, and George Kittle.
There’s WR2 upside here if one or more of those guys misses significant time this season. But Aiyuk is best treated as a WR3.
What We Learned Last YearAiyuk set career highs across the board in 2022:114 targets78 catches1,015 yards8 TDsHe finished 15th among WRs in total PPR points and non-PPR points. Aiyuk ranked 25th in PPR points per game and 23rd in non-PPR points per game.Aiyuk also set career highs last year in Pro Football Focus receiving grade and yards per route run (1.91).Among 80 WRs with 50+ targets in 2022, Aiyuk ranked:18th in PFF grade23rd in yards per routeHe beat teammate Deebo Samuel in both metrics.Aiyuk drew a 22.0% target share for the season. That ranked 32nd among WRs.That target share dipped to 20.1% in 14 games with healthy Deebo Samuel.And 17.9% in seven games with Samuel and Christian McCaffrey
What to Expect in 2023McCaffrey is back and might play an even bigger role with a full offseason to settle into HC Kyle Shanahan’s offense. The 49ers also return Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, and Jauan Jennings. It’s essentially the same target competition Aiyuk faced over the second half of the season, after McCaffrey arrived.The 49ers have ranked bottom-7 in pass attempts in three of the last four seasons, including each of the last two. Overall passing volume remains a concern for Aiyuk.There are questions at QB in San Francisco. Brock Purdy is working back from March surgery on his throwing elbow. If he’s not ready for Week 1, it’s not even clear if Trey Lance would start over Sam Darnold, who signed a one-year deal with the Niners in free agency.The fewer games Lance starts, the better for Aiyuk’s fantasy value. San Francisco would likely run significantly more with Lance under center.Aiyuk turned 25 in March and might still be on the ascent. Our aging-curve research shows that WRs generally peak sometime between age 25 and age 27.
Aiyuk's pro career had a bit of bizarre setback in his second season back in 2021, but it's fair to say he got back in track in 2022. San Francisco's top perimeter receiver set career-high marks in targets, receptions, yardage and TDs en route to a 15th-place finish in fantasy points (24th in PPG). Aiyuk's production was a bit volatile and he got very lucky in the TD department (his three end zone targes ranked 82nd at WR), but a 23% target share in a Kyle Shanahan offense is nothing to sneeze at. The 49ers' QB situation is uncertain and Aiyuk has substantial target competition in Deebo Samuel, Christian McCaffrey and George Kittle, but the 25-year-old former first-round pick will see enough work to deliver WR3/flex numbers.