How far apart are Pierre Garcon’s fantasy floor and ceiling?

The new San Francisco WR has the reputation as a safe fantasy option, but is his ceiling higher than we've come to expect?

| 3 weeks ago
(Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

(Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

How far apart are Pierre Garcon’s fantasy floor and ceiling?

(“Today’s Crazy Fantasy Stat” is an occasional offseason offering from PFF that highlights something that catches our eye and aids in our preparation for the 2017 fantasy season.)

If you have listened to the PFF Fantasy podcast in recent weeks, you’ve heard host (and Director of PFF Fantasy) Jeff Ratcliffe talk about some draft strategy. One of his basic tenets is upside. Shooting for safe production without the potential volatility of big-time upside is a good way to finish third or fourth in your fantasy league, while grabbing upside might leave you in last if it goes poorly, but it can also leave you in first.

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That argument is completely accurate, of course. The next step, then, is identifying which players are the safe and which are the high-upside. And which are both. Today, I’m going to look at the poster boy for the safe wide receiver these days: Pierre Garcon.

Pierre Garcon is safe

Garcon has 491 targets over the last four years. Only 10 wide receivers have more, and they are the names you’d expect (see chart below). Of course, that is in part because Garcon hasn’t missed a game in that span, playing a full 64 games since 2013. Only eight wide receivers can make that claim, and that includes such “luminaries” as Eric Weems and Cordarrelle Patterson. Of fantasy-relevant names, the only receivers with 64 games in the last four years are Doug Baldwin, DeAndre Hopkins, Golden Tate, Demaryius Thomas, Mike Wallace, and Garcon.

Largely because of his health and regular target load, Garcon has been a mid-level fantasy receiver over most of that span. In fact, three receivers have finished with more fantasy points than Garcon in each of the last four seasons — Antonio Brown, Demaryius Thomas, and T.Y. Hilton. Garcon has only finished higher than 32nd once in that span — lending credence to the high-floor/low-ceiling conversation — but he’s been very predictable.

Most targets among wide receivers, last four years
2016 2015 2014 2013 2013-2016
Targets Fantasy rank Targets Fantasy rank Targets Fantasy rank Targets Fantasy rank Total targets
Antonio Brown 151 3 190 1 178 1 159 8 678
Demaryius Thomas 141 18 169 13 178 3 138 2 626
Brandon Marshall 121 50 167 3 101 31 158 5 547
DeAndre Hopkins 138 35 187 6 120 14 91 50 536
Julio Jones 125 6 193 2 156 8 57 65 531
T.Y. Hilton 143 5 125 24 123 10 134 19 525
Larry Fitzgerald 147 17 139 10 100 55 129 16 515
Emmanuel Sanders 131 20 131 18 140 7 108 35 510
Julian Edelman 146 20 85 37 124 27 146 18 501
A.J. Green 95 34 123 8 109 21 171 4 498
Pierre Garcon 110 32 108 36 99 53 174 13 491
Golden Tate 131 23 121 33 136 13 93 29 481
Alshon Jeffery 92 53 92 40 135 12 140 8 459
Dez Bryant 89 27 68 77 135 3 156 5 448
Odell Beckham Jr. 161 4 153 5 129 5 N/A N/A 443
Anquan Boldin 88 47 107 43 121 23 123 15 439
Mike Evans 168 2 146 26 116 10 N/A N/A 430
Mike Wallace 109 25 68 74 108 18 137 25 422
Michael Crabtree 142 13 143 20 102 51 30 108 417
Andre Johnson 21 128 76 60 141 38 176 12 414

Since 2013, Garcon has been very clearly safe. If you want security in 2017, he’s your guy.

Pierre Garcon has a high ceiling?

Famously, Garcon left Washington in free agency this offseason and headed west, joining the San Francisco 49ers. More notably, he re-joined new 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, who was Garcon’s offensive coordinator during his 2013 career year, when he had 113 receptions on 174 targets for 1,346 yards and 5 touchdowns. He finished that year as the No. 13 standard fantasy wide receiver, No. 11 in PPR, despite a struggling Robert Griffin III and a not-yet-established Kirk Cousins as his quarterbacks.

That was obviously in part because of the names surrounding Garcon. There was second-year running back Alfred Morris and rookie, not yet established Jordan Reed at tight end, but other than them and Garcon, the offense was a mishmash of unimpressive names — Roy Helu, near-the-end-of-his-career Santana Moss, Aldrick Robinson. Garcon had his highest ceiling, because who the heck else was Washington gonna throw to?

Now look at Garcon’s 49ers team heading into 2017. There is Carlos Hyde, a genuinely useful running back if he can stay healthy. Other than him and Garcon, there’s a couple of rookie running backs (Joe Williams and Matt Breida), near-the-end-of-his-career Tim Hightower, Bruce Ellington, Jeremy Kerley, Aldrick Robinson again. Whether Garcon’s 2013 or 2017 supporting cast was better is fine to debate (and we might not know until we see how Williams and Breida develop), but let’s just say neither is going to be mistaken for the current crop of Steelers or the Peyton Manning Broncos.

Garcon’s quarterback in 2017 is Brian Hoyer, unless it’s Matt Barkley, unless it’s C.J. Beathard. There isn’t anything likely resembling a star in there, but you can’t really say one-legged Griffin or had-barely-played Cousins was functionally better.

Pierre Garcon is not likely to be a top-10 receiver. But there’s a not-at-all-difficult path to him being a top-20 guy. Ultimately, yes, he’s more high-floor than high-ceiling. But heading into 2017, he has a higher ceiling than his reputation might hint at. Among the aforementioned top 20 in targets in the last four years, two (Anquan Boldin and Andre Johnson) are currently unemployed. Among the others, the only one going later than Garcon in drafts is Mike Wallace, at 112th overall per Fantasy Football Calculator. Garcon is going 108th. That’s not awful, but it’s late in the draft to get a team’s undisputed No. 1 target in an offense that, at least based on expectation, should be as high-octane as it can manage to be, especially with an awful defense that should keep that offense on the field. Garcon has the reputation as a boring, high-floor/low-ceiling option, and that might not be accurate. Bump him up.

| Fantasy Editor

Daniel Kelley is the fantasy editor for Pro Football Focus. He has previously appeared at SB Nation.

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