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Player Spotlight: Pierre Garcon

A detailed look at Pierre Garcon's fantasy prospects

POSITIVES

  • Garcon should be the 49ers top target in most, if not all, game scripts
  • Kyle Shanahan clearly knows how to leverage veteran receivers
  • The 49ers should be forced into passing a lot as they play from behind

NEGATIVES

  • Garcon needs a high target share for fantasy relevance; he's below average on a per-touch basis
  • The 49ers quarterback situation is worrisome (Brian Hoyer, Matt Barkley)
  • He will be the unquestioned #1, and invite consistent defensive focus unlike his prior situations

Breaking the bank?

This NFL offseason was forecast as a bonanza for wide receivers, thanks to a handful of starting-caliber free agents and significant salary cap space throughout the league. When the dust settled, very few receivers struck paydirt. The tight market made the 49ers' pursuit of Pierre Garcon surprising. San Francisco signed Garcon to a 5-year, $47.5 million contract with $17 million in guarantees. By comparison, Garcon broke the bank compared to his peers:

  • Pierre Garcon, SF -- 5-year, $47.5mm, $17mm guaranteed, $9.5mm average annual value (AAV)
  • Kenny Britt, CLE -- 4-year, $32.5mm, $10.5mm guaranteed, $8.1mm AAV
  • Robert Woods, LAR -- 5-year, $34mm, $15mm guaranteed, $6.8mm AAV
  • Alshon Jeffery, PHI -- 1-year, $9.5mm, $8.8mm guaranteed, $9.5mm AAV
  • Jeremy Maclin, BAL -- 2-year, $11mm, $6mm guaranteed, $5.5mm AAV
  • Terrelle Pryor, WAS -- 1-year, $6mm, $6mm guaranteed, $6mm AAV
  • Brandon Marshall, NYG -- 2-year, $11mm, $5mm guaranteed, $5.5mm AAV
  • Eric Decker, TEN -- 1-year, $4mm, $2.5mm guaranteed, $4mm AAV 
What does that mean? Regardless of what we may think about Garcon versus other available receivers, it's clear the 49ers front office thought of Garcon as an impact player and one of the best options for a rebuilding franchise.
 
 

Reunited and It Feels So Good

Garcon's decision to sign with San Francisco had as much to do with reuniting with Kyle Shanahan as it did the size of the contract. Shanahan, fresh of a stint as Atlanta's offensive coordinator, was Garcon's offensive coordinator in Washington from 2012 to 2013. In those two seasons, Garcon was productive, putting up near-elite numbers; which is in stark contrast to his other seven seasons. 
 
  • In two seasons with Shanahan (Pro-rata, 16 gms):  158 targets, 97 receptions, 1,225 yards, 6 touchdowns
  • In seven seasons w/o Shanahana (Pro-rata, 16 gms): 101 targets, 61 receptions, 761 yards, 4 touchdowns
Shanahan has a long history of saturing his top wide receiver with targets, regardless of the underlying talent.
 
Top Receivers Target Data, Kyle Shanahan as Offensive Coordinator
TeamYearFirstLastTargetsNFLRank
HOU 2008 Andre Johnson 170 3rd
HOU 2009 Andre Johnson 171 1st
WAS 2010 Santana Moss 145 7th
WAS 2011 Jabar Gaffney 115 25th
WAS 2012 Josh Morgan 80 N/A
WAS 2013 Pierre Garcon 182 2nd
CLE 2014 Andrew Hawkins 112 32nd
ATL 2015 Julio Jones 205 1st
ATL 2016 Julio Jones 149 11th

When Shanahan has a receiver with above average ability, they're going to see a disproportionate target share. It happened with Andre Johnson, Santana Moss, Pierre Garcon and Julio Jones

Guaranteed Target Share

The stars appear aligned for Garcon to gobble up massive target share. We know Shanahan wants to feature his top receiver, but even if he wasn't known for playing favorites, an examination of the 49ers roster tells the tale. The 49ers are embarking on a complete rebuilding program under new GM John Lynch and Shanahan, and there aren't any other credible threats to steal targets.

  • Receivers -- Bruce Ellington, Marquise Goodwin, Aaron Burbridge, Jeremy Kerley, DeAndre Smelter, Trent Taylor, Aldrick Robinson
  • Tight Ends -- Vance McDonald, Garrett Celek, Blake Bell, George Kittle
  • Running Backs -- Carlos Hyde, Tim Hightower, Joe Williams, Kapri Bibbs

Is there anyone on the roster capable of challenging a healthy Garcon? Kerly is the most accomplished of the bunch, and he has a whopping 246 receptions in six seasons.

Thanks Goodness for target share, because garcon is Inefficient

Fantasy success comes from a confluence of ability and opportunity. Garcon has both, although his fantasy value leans lopsidedly in the opportunity side of the ledger. It’s important to recognize Garcon as a middling talent who happens to have an abundance of opportunity. Garcon has had just two WR2 seasons; he ranked 22nd in 2011 and 13th in 2013. He’s never been a #1 fantasy receiver. Simply put, Garcon needs a ton of targets to be fantasy relevant on a weekly basis.

Fantasy Points per Target (Top 100 Wide Receivers, 2012-2016)

PPRRnkStanRnkFirstLastTgtsRecsFPTsFPTs/TgtPPR-FPTPPRFP/TGT
1 1 Terrelle Pryor 146 79 344.4 2.36 423.4 2.90
2 2 Martavis Bryant 140 76 226.3 1.62 302.3 2.16
3 3 Jordy Nelson 502 329 735.5 1.47 1,064.5 2.12
4 7 Doug Baldwin 447 317 615.0 1.38 932.0 2.08
5 5 Odell BeckhamJr 447 288 626.9 1.40 914.9 2.05
6 4 Kenny Stills 274 164 394.6 1.44 558.6 2.04
7 11 Brandin Cooks 314 215 424.2 1.35 639.2 2.04
8 12 Randall Cobb 491 341 648.4 1.32 989.4 2.02
9 6 Dez Bryant 593 354 830.9 1.40 1,184.9 2.00
10 10 Eric Decker 524 335 711.6 1.36 1,046.6 2.00
11 9 Terrance Williams 292 177 399.5 1.37 576.5 1.97
12 8 DeSean Jackson 454 267 623.2 1.37 890.2 1.96
13 16 Antonio Brown 800 548 1,010.7 1.26 1,558.7 1.95
14 17 Julio Jones 683 443 861.0 1.26 1,304.0 1.91
15 15 Lance Moore 227 145 287.3 1.27 432.3 1.90
16 19 James Jones 400 246 501.8 1.25 747.8 1.87
17 38 Willie Snead 203 142 237.0 1.17 379.0 1.87
18 18 Tavon Austin 302 182 380.6 1.26 562.6 1.86
19 29 Marques Colston 407 262 495.9 1.22 757.9 1.86
20 21 A.J. Green 691 416 864.1 1.25 1,280.1 1.85
21 24 Rishard Matthews 274 171 336.5 1.23 507.5 1.85
22 26 Demaryius Thomas 787 492 963.4 1.22 1,455.4 1.85
23 39 Eddie Royal 295 202 343.5 1.16 545.5 1.85
24 32 Jarius Wright 205 135 243.2 1.19 378.2 1.84
25 56 Cole Beasley 295 218 325.0 1.10 543.0 1.84
26 23 Marvin Jones 318 189 394.7 1.24 583.7 1.84
27 42 Golden Tate 570 389 653.9 1.15 1,042.9 1.83
28 13 Sammy Watkins 275 153 348.8 1.27 501.8 1.82
29 20 Malcom Floyd 257 144 322.0 1.25 466.0 1.81
30 51 Keenan Allen 321 221 358.2 1.12 579.2 1.80
31 40 Chris Hogan 195 125 225.4 1.16 350.4 1.80
32 14 Ted Ginn 283 150 358.3 1.27 508.3 1.80
33 27 Calvin Johnson 637 365 778.4 1.22 1,143.4 1.79
34 41 Jerricho Cotchery 237 151 272.8 1.15 423.8 1.79
35 43 Mohamed Sanu 331 212 379.3 1.15 591.3 1.79
36 37 Jeremy Maclin 465 285 543.9 1.17 828.9 1.78
37 50 Jordan Matthews 341 225 381.3 1.12 606.3 1.78
38 58 Percy Harvin 198 135 216.3 1.09 351.3 1.77
39 31 T.Y. Hilton 647 375 771.6 1.19 1,146.6 1.77
40 36 Donte Moncrief 210 126 246.0 1.17 372.0 1.77
41 30 Allen Hurns 274 150 332.4 1.21 482.4 1.76
42 33 Alshon Jeffery 528 304 624.7 1.18 928.7 1.76
43 64 Stefon Diggs 195 136 206.6 1.06 342.6 1.76
44 28 Josh Gordon 301 161 367.4 1.22 528.4 1.76
45 35 Rueben Randle 327 188 384.4 1.18 572.4 1.75
46 59 Anquan Boldin 572 369 623.3 1.09 992.3 1.73
47 44 Brandon Marshall 760 447 869.1 1.14 1,316.1 1.73
48 53 Emmanuel Sanders 599 368 665.1 1.11 1,033.1 1.72
49 34 Mike Evans 440 238 520.0 1.18 758.0 1.72
50 22 Justin Hunter 163 78 202.5 1.24 280.5 1.72
51 52 Rod Streater 213 128 237.2 1.11 365.2 1.71
52 25 Torrey Smith 447 216 548.9 1.23 764.9 1.71
53 75 Wes Welker 371 253 379.8 1.02 632.8 1.71
54 54 Amari Cooper 260 154 287.6 1.11 441.6 1.70
55 46 John Brown 271 152 308.2 1.14 460.2 1.70
56 68 Roddy White 434 278 456.9 1.05 734.9 1.69
57 84 Jarvis Landry 409 289 402.3 0.98 691.3 1.69
58 48 Riley Cooper 263 146 296.5 1.13 442.5 1.68
59 61 Cordarrelle Patterson 216 132 230.9 1.07 362.9 1.68
60 57 Brandon LaFell 459 268 502.4 1.09 770.4 1.68
61 45 Michael Floyd 460 247 523.6 1.14 770.6 1.68
62 67 Michael Crabtree 558 346 588.4 1.05 934.4 1.67
63 81 Julian Edelman 565 378 567.2 1.00 945.2 1.67
64 78 Pierre Garcon 578 377 584.2 1.01 961.2 1.66
65 66 Steve Smith 550 332 580.0 1.05 912.0 1.66
66 63 Victor Cruz 373 221 397.3 1.07 618.3 1.66
67 49 Travis Benjamin 296 156 333.1 1.13 489.1 1.65
68 79 Kendall Wright 438 280 441.4 1.01 721.4 1.65
69 47 Mike Williams 184 93 208.8 1.13 301.8 1.64
70 77 Greg Jennings 296 183 302.0 1.02 485.0 1.64
71 65 DeAndre Hopkins 554 317 586.7 1.06 903.7 1.63
72 62 Mike Wallace 558 313 594.7 1.07 907.7 1.63
73 55 Kelvin Benjamin 263 136 290.8 1.11 426.8 1.62
74 72 Davante Adams 279 163 288.6 1.03 451.6 1.62
75 60 Allen Robinson 381 201 415.1 1.09 616.1 1.62
76 74 Jermaine Kearse 271 153 279.4 1.03 432.4 1.60
77 83 Kamar Aiken 211 128 207.9 0.99 335.9 1.59
78 90 Danny Amendola 343 231 314.8 0.92 545.8 1.59
79 85 Larry Fitzgerald 691 433 664.7 0.96 1,097.7 1.59
80 69 Kenny Britt 387 207 402.3 1.04 609.3 1.57
81 71 Nate Washington 360 190 373.3 1.04 563.3 1.56
82 87 Andre Johnson 589 356 560.9 0.95 916.9 1.56
83 86 Steve Johnson 363 210 348.1 0.96 558.1 1.54
84 70 Darrius Heyward-Bey 206 100 213.8 1.04 313.8 1.52
85 73 Andre Holmes 211 102 218.2 1.03 320.2 1.52
86 76 Vincent Jackson 541 268 552.6 1.02 820.6 1.52
87 89 Robert Woods 345 203 319.4 0.93 522.4 1.51
88 80 Brian Quick 209 105 209.9 1.00 314.9 1.51
89 93 Andrew Hawkins 307 186 274.5 0.89 460.5 1.50
90 88 Miles Austin 271 150 251.9 0.93 401.9 1.48
91 82 Denarius Moore 227 109 226.7 1.00 335.7 1.48
92 99 Harry Douglas 359 225 305.8 0.85 530.8 1.48
93 91 Brian Hartline 405 235 363.6 0.90 598.6 1.48
94 95 Jeremy Kerley 382 217 336.4 0.88 553.4 1.45
95 98 Reggie Wayne 370 209 317.7 0.86 526.7 1.42
96 96 Hakeem Nicks 284 154 246.7 0.87 400.7 1.41
97 94 Cecil Shorts 437 227 387.9 0.89 614.9 1.41
98 100 Dwayne Bowe 325 181 275.6 0.85 456.6 1.40
99 97 Andre Roberts 309 168 265.6 0.86 433.6 1.40
100 92 Chris Givens 237 107 212.1 0.89 319.1 1.35

Quarterback Woes, But Not An Insurmountable Factor

Brian Hoyer is slated to start for San Francisco, and the journeyman is among the worst projected starters in the league. Hoyer is 31 years old and is playing for his sixth team in seven seasons. While Hoyer isn't an All-Pro in waiting, Kyle Shanahan has fielded offenses with mediocre quarterbacks in the past, and the #1 receiver has remained relevant. In 2010, Donovan McNabb started 13 games for Washington with a horrific 14 touchdowns to 15 interceptions, but Santana Moss was productive. In 2013, Garcon's best season, a combination of Robert Griffin (82 passer rating with 16 touchdowns and 12 interceptions) and Kirk Cousins (4 touchdowns and 7 interceptions) muddled through a 3-13 season. Would it be better if San Francisco had an exciting veteran signal caller under center? Of course, but the 49ers need to throw the ball (because they'll be playing from behind) and the lack of viable alternative targets more than offsets Hoyer's mediocrity.


PROJECTIONS

YEAR GRSHYDTDTARGRECYDTDFumL
2014 WAS 16 0 0 0 105 68 752 3  
2015 WAS 16 0 0 0 111 72 777 6  
2016 WAS 16 0 0 0 114 79 1041 3  
2017 PROJ-Dodds 15 0 0 0   70 847 5 0
2017 PROJ-Henry 16 0 0 0   73 920 5 0
2017 PROJ-Wood 16 0 0 0   75 825 5 0
2017 PROJ-Tremblay 16 0 0 0   69 878 5 1

FINAL THOUGHTS

Pierre Garcon is not going a world beater. On a per-touch basis, the veteran is mediocre at best. However, he joins a San Francisco team in desperate need of a veteran target as the team looks to rebuild with youth over the next few seasons. He was targeted by John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan, and is assured of a massive target share as long as he remains healthy. The key is to set reasonable expectations. If you draft Garcon expecting a breakout Top 15 season, you're barking up the wrong tree. If you draft him expecting a reliable, high floor WR3/Flex option, you're getting solid value in the middle of the draft. 


OTHER PERSPECTIVES

Sigmund believes Garcon is one of the most undervalued receivers at his current ADP:

"Garcon won’t win your league, but he will be a very useful player in PPR leagues. He was steady enough to be a reliable WR3/flex play last year despite scoring only three times. This year, he goes to San Francisco and gets plugged into a productive offensive mind in Kyle Shanahan and a prolific quarterback (at least in terms of attempts) in Brian Hoyer. Hoyer has boosted the value of his No. 1s like Josh Gordon, DeAndre Hopkins, and Cameron Meredith in previous years, and Garcon should be able to produce well on a losing team with Hoyer and even backup Matt Barkley, who like Hoyer threw a ton when he was on the field for a Bears last year."

Justin Howe loves Garcon because of Kyle Shanahan's offensive system:

"It's not always wise to follow offensive coordinator trends from one team to another, but it's hard to ignore the effect Kyle Shanahan tends to have on his starting X receiver. Studs like Julio Jones and Andre Johnson have been fed massively under his leadership, as well as more middle-of-the-pack guys like Jabar Gaffney and late-career Santana Moss. Garcon and Shanahan reunite after teaming up for 156 catches and 1,979 yards over 26 games together in Washington. And even if we ignore the Shanahan storyline, we still see Garcon firmly atop the league's worst wide receiver depth chart. Only suboptimal slot specialist Jeremy Kerley - a generally inefficient producer - stands between Garcon and a truly dominant stake in wide receiver targets. Regardless of the 49ers' 2017 offensive efficiency or their run/pass ratio, Garcon looks poised for a run at 90 receptions, yet he's often priced behind huge question marks like Corey Coleman and Corey Davis."