When Pierre Garcon landed a five-year, $42 million deal from the Redskins, he appeared headed for fantasy stardom as the favorite target of rookie sensation Robert Griffin III. He didn't disappoint in week one, with four targets for 4/109/1 receiving - but he also tore ligaments in his right foot that hobbled him for the rest of the season (he was out of six games altogether and affected by the injury in the other nine games in which he played). Garcon did have a nice stretch of production from weeks 12-14, with three straight games with a receiving TD (seven targets for 5/93/1 vs. Dallas; 11 for 8/106/1 vs. the Giants; and then nine for 5/87/1 vs. Baltimore) - his only other 100+ yards receiving performance after week one came in week 13 vs. the Giants. All told, his 68 targets for 45/644/4 were a disappointment given preseason expectations, but his strong games showed the promise of what he might do if healthy and playing a full 16 game season with Griffin.
The 'if healthy' part of the above sentence is a big part of the problem with Garcon this year. He elected NOT to have surgery on the torn ligaments during the offseason (there was no guarantee that the surgery would fix the problem), and as of June 6, 2013 Garcon is planning to wear special shoes designed to protect the affected portion of his foot. In short, Garcon is going to try and manage the pain of his injury. 'I have to learn a lot about my foot and how I run and things like that with all these injuries, but it's getting better.' Garcon also underwent labrum surgery on his shoulder sometime in January this year - that injury is reportedly healed up, but the team held him out of team drills at the recent OTAs as a precautionary measure. Garcon has only played one full slate of 16 games during his five-year NFL career, with 134 targets for 70/947/6 receiving in his last season with the Colts (2011), which is also his career-best mark to date.
Of course, not only do fantasy owners have to worry about Garcon's rehabilitation, there is also the knee injury that Griffin had surgically repaired January 9, 2013 (torn ACL and LCL, with some damage to the medial meniscus cartilage as well). Redskins' team Dr. James Andrews has indicated that Griffin is 'well ahead' of the timetable for his recovery, and head coach Mike Shanahan has also stated that Griffin is ahead of schedule - but there is still uncertainty about Griffin being ready for the start of the season, and he may get very few reps on the practice field during training camp. A report out of Washington on June 7, 2013 indicated that Griffin was limping after the practice session that day, but other reports have stressed that Griffin hasn't suffered soreness or swelling in the joint despite doing running, cutting, and throwing the football on the side of the field with the other rehabilitating players. For his part, Griffin plans to be ready for day one of training camp, but the final decision will rest with Dr. James Andrews and the Redskins' training staff.
- Garcon showed good chemistry with Griffin while they were on the field together last year
- Garcon appears locked in as the team's #1 wide receiver - Santana Moss is an aging veteran, while Josh Morgan and Leonard Hankerson are both journeyman-level NFL talents - neither has gone over 700 yards receiving or had more than three TDs in any season to this point in their careers
- Garcon has been paid enough ($20.5 million guaranteed) that the Redskins will give him every opportunity to succeed - they have too much invested in him to cut him loose
- Garcon's injured foot isn't healed and probably won't heal during 2013
- Griffin is a question mark for the start of the season - Kirk Cousins isn't the same caliber of quarterback if he is called upon to start
- Garcon has never gone over 1,000 yards receiving in any season - can he be a true #1 fantasy wide receiver?
Final thoughts: There are a lot of 'ifs' surrounding Garcon this year. He could be an explosive fantasy player IF he successfully manages the pain of his foot injury, IF Griffin is healthy for the start of the season, or IF Garcon can create chemistry with Kirk Cousins (IF Cousins ends up starting early in the season). With so much uncertainty about the Redskins' passing offense this year, I'm going to hold off drafting Garcon in early drafts and will want to get him at a steep discount (towards the end of any given draft) even if his foot seems to be holding up during training camp. He's not on my 'priority'list of players to draft for 2013.
Responses from the Message Board
Injury is much more of a concern for me for Garcon that it is for RG3. A torn plantar plate is a serious issue for a player like Garcon who puts tremendous pressure on his foot. It also seems like he made a mistake not to get surgery like many doctors were recommending. All in all it's a high risk/high upside situation and at the moment it doesn't seem like his injury concerns are priced into his current value.
FF Ninja commented:
Garcon is a scary player. If you draft him, you're scared of his injuries. If you don't draft him, you're scared he's going to stay healthy and blow up... As I see it, a strong case can be made on both sides of this one. Given that he's going WR21 (5th round), I'm probably going to pass on him since I really like a lot of the WRs currently available in rounds 6 and 7.
Rookie Whisper commented:
I see that Garcon is still hovering around an ADP of early 6th rd in dynasty startups and 64 overall in the current rankings here. Do his corrective shoes or statements like, 'I have to learn a lot about my foot and how I run and things like that with all these injuries' give anyone pause on his current value? I've never been a huge fan of his but this knocks him down quite a bit in my eyes. WRs who have to think about how they are running send up a warning flare to me.
More from Mark Wimer:
Player Spotlight: Eric Ebron - July 30
Offensive Skill Position Injury Review July 29, 2014 - July 30
Player Spotlight: Adrian Peterson - July 28
Player Spotlight: Wes Welker - July 9
IDP Starters/Backups Injury Review June 8, 2014 - June 8
Offensive Skill Position Injury Review June 8, 2014 - June 8
Offensive Skill Position Injury Review May 21, 2014 - May 21
Preseason Skill Position Injury Report - September 2
Preseason Skill Position Injury Report - August 28
Preseason Skill Position Injury Report - August 21