🤔 What is going on with Brandon Aiyuk?

💲🗣️🐂💩🚶🏿‍♂️ amiright?

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NFL WRs and cryptic social media posts. Name a more dynamic duo. We’ll wait…

In today’s Fantasy Life Newsletter presented by Vinovest:

  • Brandon Aiyuk doesn’t seem happy with the 49ers at the moment

  • The J.J. McCarthy hype reaches new levels

  • What Now? Zoom out and look at everything

  • It’s 3/26. Take it away, Ian Hartitz…

49ers WR Brandon Aiyuk has emerged as one of the game’s brightest young stars after posting back-to-back big-time campaigns in 2022 (78-1,015-8) and 2023 (75-1,342-7) alike.

The former 25th overall pick routinely makes the most out of his opportunities, combining lethal route-running goodness with WR1-worthy ability after the catch. Aiuyk has truly posted some great efficiency metrics since entering the league.

Aiyuk among 89 WRs with 150-plus targets since 2020:

  • PFF receiving grade: 91.0 (No. 9)

  • Yards per route run: 2.07 (No. 15)

  • Yards per reception: 14.6 (No. 14)

  • Yards per target: 9.9 (No. 3)

Accordingly, Aiyuk is looking to get paid a pretty penny on his next contract. While 49ers general manager John Lynch noted the team hoped to keep their stud WR around back in February, that didn’t stop Aiyuk from breaking a nearly 11-month-long Twitter dry spell interestingly last week.

The man is right — they do look alike — but Lynch made light of the situation on Monday and again announced the team doesn’t intend to trade their overqualified No. 2 WR.

This led to another response from Aiyuk, this time a cryptic emoji-laden IG story.

I’m not a doctor, but it would seem Aiyuk is saying something along the lines of, “Money talks, bullshit walks.”

And now here we are!

San Francisco isn’t in the best position to get a big-money deal done ASAP (Rocky), as they have just the eighth-most available effective cap space for 2024 and trail only the “cap isn’t real” Saints in 2025. There’s a reason why ESPN senior NFL national reporter Dan Graziano openly wondered if a trade could be incoming back in February after all.

Obviously, 49ers fans and Brock Purdy are hoping that Aiyuk and Lynch can come to a long-term agreement, but if not? Maybe just maybe the following three teams could provide the sort of money and target share that Aiyuk is apparently dreaming of:

  • Chargers: Only the Patriots, Commanders, Titans and Eagles have more effective cap space at the moment, and that Justin Herbert guy is pretty, pretty, pretty good at that whole throwing-a-football thing.

  • Cardinals: Teaming up with Kyler Murray inside of an offense DYING for a true No. 1 pass-game option while also returning back to where it all started (Go Sun Devils), is that something Aiyuk might be interested in?

  • Steelers: I mean, Aiyuk kind of already called his shot, right? Of course, the presence of fantasy football enemy No. 1 Arthur Smith probably wouldn’t lead to much of an increase in targets, but at least he could… catch passes from Russell Wilson and Justin Fields? Yeah, you know what, I don’t get this one either.

Reminder: The 49ers don’t have to do anything and could simply force Aiyuk to play under his current deal in 2024. That said — similar to the Bengals and Tee Higgins — it might behoove the organization to get a deal done sooner rather than later in order to get the most return for their investment should they decide a long-term agreement is off the table.

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Around the Watercooler (August 2022)

⚡️ Could this rookie reunite with his college coach? It’d be an ideal landing spot…

🫡 Former Patriots and Bills RB Damien Harris announced his retirement. 15 TDs back in 2021!

👀 This WR REALLY impressed at his pro day. Deebo Samuel is a popular comp.

😱 Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy might go HOW high? The hype train is out of control.

🕺 Miami made an offer to a certain free agent WR. The TD celebration possibilities are endless.

👍 Reception perception goodness on the draft’s big three incoming WRs. Great stuff as always from Matt Harmon.

🙃 The NFL officially banned the hip-drop tackle. Surely the refs won’t have any problems enforcing this.

⚾️ Calling all baseball fans…Can anyone beat the Dodgers?

Cooterdoodle's What Now? Fantasy Life. Zoom Out!

The fantasy football season might be over, but we are NOT ready to unplug. Cooterdoodle is here to keep our minds in check by asking the age-old, evergreen question: “What Now?”

😅 What Now? Zoom Out

With the NFL draft less than a month away, there’s plenty of time for us to prepare for the hyper-focused hype trains that are about to leave the station. A draft pick is certain to boost offenses, fix defenses, and save entire organizations, right? Choo Choo!

But each year, these hype trains fall victim to the perils of tunnel vision.

It’s time to see the bigger picture. There are plenty of pieces to the fantasy football puzzle that all have to align for fantasy greatness. Now is a great time to dig in and avoid getting swept away with incoming hype.

Don’t get tunnel vision. Zoom out and look at everything:

🗣️ Coaching

A vital piece to any team starts at the top with coaching. With the carousel in motion, we’ve got to keep our eye on every moving piece and how it might affect player value/potential.

While we shouldn’t fixate on coaching alone, it would be negligent to ignore the results of Arthur Smith’s time in Atlanta when trying to assess the outcomes for Steelers players in 2024. If you don’t stand for something (read: Kyle Pitts’ targets) you’ll fall for anything (read: Arthur Smith again).

Stay vigilant.

And remember, coach speak isn’t everything (unless you want it to be). 

🤑 Draft Capital

Not every team is blessed with a first-round pick each year. And others have multiple. (Hi Chicago, Arizona, and Minnesota 👋).

This matters, because draft picks are the currency of hope. A bright ray of light in a sea (son) of darkness. They add yet another piece to the puzzle.

But first-round picks don’t always come to fruition.

While everyone is still coming down from the highs of Sam LaPorta, Puka Nacua, De’Von Achane, Jahmyr Gibbs, etc… don’t forget that a metaphorical Zach Wilson could be just around the corner.

Don’t put all your eggs into the 2024 class basket.

🤝 Holes to Fill

Free agency moves are exciting, but whatever weaknesses existed on a team before the draft are worth remembering after the post-draft dopamine fades.

Don’t let the success of one draft pick blind you to other areas that need improvement.

Remember, we’re thinking of the big picture here. And there are plenty of holes to fill. And I mean plenty.

🚪 Behind Closed Doors

Every year we witness cryptic player tweets and offseason whispers that throw everyone’s ADP into a frenzy. It’s easy to consume yourself with speculation of what’s happening behind closed doors.

But the adrenaline-filled chase doesn’t guarantee any actual NFL changes. Think back to Josh Jacobs’ pre-game “I’m not playing” post from 2020. Or Miles Sanders telling everyone not to draft him in 2022 (his highest-scoring season to date).

Keep an eye out for hushed secrets and cryptic tweets, but don’t let the drama fuel the fires of your draft.

Zoom out a little and take everything into consideration.

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