Way back in 2012, as a free agent coming off three straight years of improvement, Pierre Garcon left the Indianapolis Colts for the Washington Redskins. He sandwiched a pair of sub-800-yard seasons between his two best statistical efforts to date and found himself signing a huge deal this spring with the San Francisco 49ers.
Garcon was Washington’s top receiver in 2013 and snared 113 balls for 1,346 yards. His career high for scoring is six touchdowns, which he has done three times. At 6-foot, 211 pounds, his size is adequate. He is entering his age-31 season and has scored a 70-yard touchdown in two of the past three seasons. His legs are still there, even though the Mount Union alum wasn’t a blazing fast player in his prime. All told, Garcon is better than average but far from elite.
Look at all of that talent!
In terms of the situation around him, joining the 49ers will be a drastic step backward for the veteran. While Garcon becomes the de facto WR1 once again, it isn’t saying much when the rest of San Fran’s cast is reviewed.
In fact, the supporting cast of names likely means nothing to casual fantasy gamers. Marquise Goodwin comes over from Buffalo as a speed demon who offers little else on offense. Bruce Ellington has waged an epic war with his own hamstring for the better part of three pro seasons. Jeremy Kerley has flashed at times but is a glorified slot receiver. DeAndre Smelter is completely unproven and has fought injuries. “Aaron Burbridge” is not dedicated infrastructure to commemorate a former American Vice President. Trent Taylor is a pint-size rookie who possesses oodles of intrigue. Tight end Vance McDonald cannot seem to get out of his own way.
Oh, and quarterback Brian Hoyer leads this merry band of misfits. Should he go down, which seems to happen every single time he plays football for more than five minutes, Hoyer’s replacement will be either Matt Barkley or rookie C.J. Beathard. Excited yet?
First-time head coach Kyle Shanahan’s system relies on zone blocking and play-action passing as its most basic tenets. This offensive line has talent but needs to prove cohesion and consistency.
Much of the pass game’s success runs through the rushing attack with this offensive approach. Carlos Hyde has a wealth of talent but is somewhere around Brian Hoyer on the fragility meter. Rookie Joe Williams and veteran Tim Hightower will contribute on the ground.
Serving a dose of reality
So, now that we’ve given a passing glance to most talented team in all the land, let’s return to Garcon himself. He has a career reception conversion rate of 60.8 percent, which is perfectly average for the top 75 most targeted wideouts last year. Among the top 10, 50 percent were more successful at hauling in the intended throw. Most likely due to the role he played as a deep threat (ish)/third fiddle in Indy, Garcon’s conversion rate was the lowest of his career. It went up 11 points after becoming a Redskin, mainly because of how he was utilized. It is no coincidence his yards-per-reception average was more than one full yard greater while with the Colts.
For the better part of his career, Garcon was fortunate enough to catch balls from Peyton Manning and Kirk Cousins. Robert Griffin III and some Colt McCoy were sprinkled in during his stint in Washington. Feel free to mentally erase the dreadful 2011 season when Manning was lost for the year. Hoyer is obviously no Manning, nor is he even Cousins, but he’s certainly not in the 2011 slop bucket, either. When healthy, Hoyer is actually pretty decent at that whole quarterbacking thing.
Fantasy football expectations
Volume, volume, volume. Off the top, Garcon’s unofficial, anything-but-scientific projection may look something like this: 120 targets, 65 receptions, 800 yards, four touchdowns. It realistically could also appear this way: 145 targets, 90 receptions, 1,050 yards, five touchdowns.
Should either of those be remotely close, we’re talking 169 and 225 points, respectively, in PPR scoring, which places him as low as No. 43 and as high as No. 17 based on last year’s numbers. That’s a huge range. For balance, average it out to 197 and we have the 30th overall wide receiver.
In non-PPR scoring, the same breakdown goes: 104 (50th) and 135 (20th) points with an average of 119.5 (35th) in standard. In more straightforward means, he’s is a likely solid WR3 in PPR and a fringe No. 4 in standard scoring. Garcon’s ADP reflects such a disparity in value, as well. He goes, on average, as the first pick of Round 8 in PPR and a full round later in conventional scoring.
Like with most of his career, fantasy gamers should expect stable but unspectacular production from this journeyman.