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.
(Side note, but if you haven’t listened to the PFF Fantasy postdcast … well, do that. It’s good, plus you can learn how to win a yearlong PFF Elite subscription.)
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|
|Targets||Fantasy rank||Targets||Fantasy rank||Targets||Fantasy rank||Targets||Fantasy rank||Total targets|
|Odell Beckham Jr.||161||4||153||5||129||5||N/A||N/A||443|
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.