Brandon Aiyuk, Jordan Reed, 49ers Fantasy Outlook After George Kittle's Injury

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistNovember 2, 2020

San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (85) warms up before an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
Tony Avelar/Associated Press

The San Francisco 49ers' passing attack may need to be reshaped after star tight end George Kittle suffered a fracture in his foot that is expected to keep him out for eight weeks, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.  

Oh, and starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is also expected to be out six weeks, according to Schefter. Suddenly, San Francisco's passing offense is in major trouble.

But fantasy opportunities abound for other players on the roster. Let's analyze how the other key members of the Niners' pass-catching group could be affected from a fantasy football perspective if Kittle remains on the sideline for a while.


Jordan Reed

Reed's talent has never been in question. It was best on display in 2015 when he posted 87 catches for 952 yards and 11 touchdowns while playing a career-high 14 games for the Washington Football Team.

Injuries have often prevented him from living up to his true potential, though. He's definitely worth a roster spot and likely a place in fantasy starting lineups if he's able to play in Week 9.

He shined while the team's starting tight end was sidelined with a knee sprain in Week 2 against the New York Jets, racking up seven receptions for 50 yards and two scores.

While Reed isn't going to put up those type of top-tier fantasy stats every game, even if Kittle is out, he should finish as a top-10 player at the position most weeks. Keep an eye on Ross Dwelley, though, who could steal some snaps and targets at tight end.


Brandon Aiyuk

The Niners selected Aiyuk in the first round of this year's draft, which is typically a strong indication the team expects the player to make an immediate impact. The lack of on-field work during the offseason and having no preseason slowed the learning curve for all rookies, though.

Now he should be ready to take on a larger role. His explosion, both in terms of his acceleration off the line and his leaping ability, makes him a tough matchup in one-on-one situations, and he should see plenty of those with defenses more focused on the team's rushing attack.

San Francisco is likely to spread the ball around quite a bit if Kittle isn't there to dominate the target share, so it's unlikely any wide receiver will achieve No. 1 status in fantasy. And Garoppolo's injury doesn't help his cause. Aiyuk will deserve consideration as a fringe No. 2 wideout or flex option, though.


Kendrick Bourne

Bourne came into the season under the fantasy radar, but a solid start to the campaign brought him into the conversation for a roster spot.

He's been a reliable secondary target for the Niners over the past two years, catching nine touchdowns while playing all 32 regular-season games. Now he may be ready to take another step forward, especially with the potential for a sizable uptick in targets.

Like Aiyuk, he probably won't reach the level of an every-week fantasy starter, but he could put together some double-digit performances against weaker secondaries.