Parker Olhiser here once again to highlight a few more fantasy risers that you need on your roster(s). As previously mentioned, “risers” are players who did not consistently produce in fantasy or were sidelined by injury early on in the season. Due to this time of underperformance or injury, these players are being undervalued by fantasy managers who are not appreciating their change in production. Some of them may even go from being a shaky flex play to a reliable every-week starter for your squad.
Let’s get started!
Brandon Aiyuk – WR SF
Injuries have kept the 49ers from playing to their full potential all season long. However, with all these players sidelined, there has been an increase in opportunity for guys like Brandon Aiyuk to fill in and perform in their stead. And he has definitely done so.
Over his last three games, he has been targeted 31 times, the most to any San Francisco pass catcher. Aiyuk also has a snap share of 89.7 percent and a 100 percent route participation on the season when active. That means that he has run a route on every single one of the 49ers’ pass plays. No other wide receiver in the entire league has done this for their team… and he’s a rookie!
The opportunities he is getting are high-value ones. Aiyuk has accumulated 517 air yards, which is a 28.8 percent share of the 49ers’ total air yards. Not only that, but he has also been targeted in the red-zone a total of 11 times this season. That mark is tied with Alvin Kamara for 7th most by any pass-catcher this season. Not to mention Shanahan uses him on fly/jet sweeps occasionally, adding another dimension to his game and increasing usage even further.
He has risen to the occasion and produced when given high-value opportunities. As the WR1 his last three games, he averaged 20.1 PPR fantasy points per game. In those games, he has at least six receptions and 75 receiving yards, he had not hit either of those marks during Weeks 1-6. Catching two touchdowns in three games also showed a vast increase in productivity in the red-zone, compared to the single receiving touchdown he had prior to Week 8. With five rushing attempts for 61 yards and two touchdowns on the season, his effectiveness as a runner is undeniable and should be used in this capacity much more often.
By the way, do you remember those 517 air yards Aiyuk has received this season? Only 253 of those yards are realized air yards, the other 264 are unrealized. Much like Gronk in last week’s article, that means there is even more room for improved production from Aiyuk.
His 89.7 percent true catch rate would suggest that this large percentage of unrealized air yards is due to inaccuracy from the QB position, not his ineffectiveness as a pass-catcher. All he needs is for his quarterback to be slightly more accurate, a catchable target rate of 68.4 percent is pretty bad for a receiver with an average target distance of only 9.1 yards.
With the loss of George Kittle and Deebo Samuel struggling to stay healthy and productive, the door is wide open for this rookie to keep balling out. Do not think this is just a fluke. Grab him for cheap while others still do! Perhaps his return to the NFL’s COVID list can provide you with a discount…
D’Andre Swift – RB DET
D’Andre Swift has become one of the most electrifying and entertaining running backs to watch this season. Recently he has shown that he can be an every-down RB for the Lions AND continue to create splash plays for this offense.
Even in a running back by committee backfield, Swift has had the 3rd highest breakaway run rate (8.6 percent) of any running back with six total rushes of 15 yards or more. With 31 receptions and 275 receiving yards on 39 total targets, he’s created big plays through the air averaging 8.9 yards per reception. This high of a number indicates he is not just a check down back. Darrell Bevell is consistently calling pass plays in which Swift is the first read on short AND intermediate routes, much like the Colts or Saints do with their running backs.
The only thing holding him back from being the true starter was the perception that he had a “lack” of ability to run between the tackles or against stacked boxes. Those questions have been answered. He’s dominated run-stopping defensive fronts of eight or more men with 6.6 yards per carry. And he has maintained a modest efficiency of 4.3 yards per carry against base fronts of seven men. Those are the numbers of an every down running back in the NFL.
Finally, the Lions’ coaching staff came to their senses in Week 10, where Swift got his shot at the starting role with a 73 percent snap share. With 149 total yards and a touchdown on 21 total touches, he immediately further proved that he was deserving of the starter’s workload.
All signs point to Swift becoming a true RB1 in fantasy and the NFL. Hopefully, Matt Patricia and company can continue to see the difference he is making for this offense. If so, he can be a true stud and possible league winner for your team. If you can acquire Swift at a discount due to his concussion or concern about his workload, do so immediately.
Mark Andrews – TE BAL
Up to this point in the season Mark Andrews has underperformed in comparison to the high expectations we all had for him on draft day. However, he has recently shown that he will bounce back and make up for the disappointment he has caused fantasy managers.
Due to the loss of Nick Boyle, Baltimore’s offense is down to one pass catching TE on the active roster, Mark Andrews. Boyle accounted for a total of 14 receptions for 113 yards and two touchdowns on 17 targets. This workload has to go somewhere. Xavier Grimble and Sean Culkin both profile as blocking TEs, so the only remaining threat to Andrews’ inheriting this workload is the newly acquired Luke Willson. Wilson has not yet been activated from the practice squad.
Not only will he inherit this additional workload, but the workload he has received prior was significant. With 53 targets up to this point, Andrews is second on the team to only Marquise Brown, who has 56 total targets. In return, he now leads his team in both receiving touchdowns (5) and receptions (33).
As a result, he has posted a dominator rating, a receiver’s percentage of the team’s total receiving yards and touchdowns, of 27.9 percent (highest among all TEs). That means he has accounted for over a quarter of his team’s total production in the passing game! That probably has to do with the fact that he has been targeted on 34.4 percent of Lamar Jackson’s passing attempts in the red zone. Yeah, you read that right, Andrews is getting looks once for every three of Jackson’s red-zone targets.
All the numbers suggest that Andrews should be producing at a higher level, but factors like Jackson struggling with his deep ball accuracy and the Ravens’ extremely high rushing rate have held him back.
However, these two issues will have to be addressed by this coaching staff if they expect to make a playoff push moving forward. The majority of the teams that Baltimore faces the remainder of the season either have stout run defenses, like PIT, CLE, and NYG, or terrible defenses altogether, like DAL, JAX, and CIN. We can expect them to shift to a heavier passing attack as a result of this road ahead.
Like I said in Part 1, do not panic if you do not own these players. Fantasy managers have a difficult time accepting changes in production. Keep an open mind and take advantage of those who don’t.
If you have any questions about these gentlemen or any other players in the league, you can follow me on Twitter @ParkerJamesFF and ask me anything. Thank you for reading and good luck this week in all your matchups!