Player Faceoff: WR Pierre Garcon, San Francisco

Two staffers go head-to-head and discuss Pierre Garcon

The staff members at Footballguys are full of opinions. In a Faceoff, we allow two members to voice their opinions on a specific player. One picked the high side, and the other took the low side.

High Side: Ryan Hester

The case for Garcon is one that is very common to fantasy success: he'll have plenty of volume, due to the following factors:

  • Coach - Kyle Shanahan has historically given his WR1s huge workloads
  • Lack of Competition - San Francisco's depth chart at wide receiver is lacking, with slot man Jeremy Kerley being the most proven commodity other than Garcon
  • Game Flow - San Francisco is likely to be a poor team, meaning they'll be a pass-heavy unit in catch-up mode frequently

Back in June, we released Version 1 of our Value Plays, Overvalued Players, and Deep Sleepers article. At the wide receiver position, Garcon's seven votes were the most. The next-most popular player received five votes. In their reasoning for selecting Garcon, some of my colleagues broke down the above factors further (the emphasis is mine).

Dan Hindery: In Kyle Shanahan’s nine seasons as offensive coordinator for four different teams, his primary X-receiver has averaged exactly 10 targets per game. In 2013, Garcon played the same key position in Shanahan’s Washington offense and racked up 113 catches on a whopping 181 targets.

Justin Howe: 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.

Darin Tietgen: There are simply no other wide receivers - be it veterans or young up-and-comers - on the 49ers roster that will challenge for the No. 1 wide receiver position.

Jeff Pasquino: Grabbing Garcon as WR3 or even WR4 for a fantasy roster provides a solid base of a team’s top receiver on a team likely to be throwing a lot and playing from behind in most contests this year.

Anyone not as high on Garcon may suggest his quarterback play is a reason to pump the proverbial brakes. However, our Sigmund Bloom pointed out that Brian Hoyer has the rare "gift" of being a middling-to-poor NFL quarterback that can somehow sustain fantasy value for his top receivers.

Sigmund Bloom: Brian Hoyer has boosted the value of his No. 1s like Josh Gordon, DeAndre Hopkins, and Cameron Meredith in previous years

The path for Garcon to exceed the value of his Average Draft Position is apparent. Opportunity is a huge predictor of fantasy success, and Garcon has a clearer path to volume than any receiver being selected around him. Select him and enjoy.

Low Side: Jason Wood

Just because the 49ers overpaid for Garcon's services doesn't mean fantasy owners should follow suit. The rebuilding 49ers shocked the world when they offered the middling veteran a 5-year, $47.5 million contract with $17.5 million guaranteed. Garcon is coming off a 1,000-yard season with Washington, and is two years removed from leading the league in receptions, but that's about where the platitudes end.

From 2012-2016 (five years), Garcon ranks just 78th among receivers in fantasy points per target. Let that sink in. Garcon is not a top 75 receiver in terms of his points per touch. Calling him a middling talent is being generous.

Historically, Kyle Shanahan's top receiver has seen an inordinate target share. If Garcon sees 150+ targets, it's possible he could be a serviceable fantasy WR2, but unlike everyone else, you'll draft in that range -- he NEEDs those targets. Absent 10+ targets per game, Garcon is barely rosterable.

Garcon's quarterback situation is tenuous. Brian Hoyer is the odds on favorite to start. The same Hoyer with 44 career touchdown passes in eight seasons. The same Hoyer playing for his sixth team. Hoyer may not be horrendous, but he's much worse than Peyton Manning or Kirk Cousins.

Let's recap: an aging veteran given an unreasonable contract to play a role he's no longer suited for on a team that will be lucky to win four games. Garcon's rare moments of fantasy relevance have come from a high target load and nothing else. Yes, he might see a high target load this year, in which case you've got yourself an average fantasy WR3 that you paid WR2 prices for; congratulations.

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