San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk has become one of the stronger values in fantasy football. The 25-year-old had a solid third season in San Francisco a year ago and has become a sought-after player in every fantasy format.
However, Aiyuk has been beaten up the first two weeks of the season, taking some tough hits after the catch. Will Aiyuk be able to suit up for the 49ers on Thursday night against the New York Giants? What options do fantasy managers have if Aiyuk can’t go? Let’s take a look!
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Is Brandon Aiyuk Going To Play TNF Week 3?
Aiyuk has had a strong start to the 2023 season. In two games, the receiver has amassed 11 catches for 172 yards and two touchdowns. He leads the team in receiving yards and is tied for the most catches with Deebo Samuel.
Currently, Aiyuk is dealing with chest and shoulder injuries stemming from several hits he took in the 49ers’ Week 2 win against the Los Angeles Rams. The wide receiver has been limited in practice several days this week and is officially going to be a game-time decision for Thursday Night Football.
Aiyuk was able to return to the game on Sunday after leaving early with an injury. Still, he was seen hobbling and checking out of the game for several plays at a time. Being that Aiyuk was able to return to the game and has been practicing, albeit in a limited capacity, the receiver is possibly able to go in Week 3.
Unfortunately for him, this game is on a short week. San Francisco needs Aiyuk for the long haul, given its Super Bowl aspirations. When push comes to shove, head coach Kyle Shanahan may decide to sit the receiver and let him rest 10 more days before his next game action.
Ahead of kickoff on Thursday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Aiyuk is not expected to play against the Giants this week. The team later announced that he would officially be inactive for this game.
Fantasy Options with Aiyuk Out
Now that Aiyuk is unable to go, one could turn to another 49ers receiver: Jauan Jennings. Jennings is likely available in nearly all of your fantasy leagues, and he was able to have an impact in Week 2 in the wake of Aiyuk’s injury.
Jennings finished with two catches for 51 yards for the Niners last Sunday. If Aiyuk is out and Jennings is stepping into the WR2 role, he has a chance to have some success. George Kittle and Samuel will see the most targets, but they will also see the most attention from the defense, at least in the passing game.
The Giants have not been as strong of a defense as they were in 2022. Opportunities are there for Jennings to step up and get targets, especially if New York puts all of its resources into stopping Kittle, Samuel, and Christian McCaffrey.
Alternatively, you could look across the field and start a receiver like Darius Slayton. Slayton hasn’t had a huge year thus far, but he’s the Giants’ most-targeted wide receiver, though tight end Darren Waller leads the team with 13 targets.
If San Francisco goes up early and forces New York to throw, Slayton could tally a good amount of production and mitigate Aiyuk’s absence for your fantasy team.
Other options that may be available in free agency include Rashid Shaheed, Marvin Mims Jr., Tank Dell, and Robert Woods. Any of these receivers could be a clutch free agent acquisition for your team if you are in a pinch for Week 3.