Pierre Garçon and Cecil Shorts: Finding Value Out of Alliance, Ohio
The town of Alliance, Ohio, sits about 75 miles south of Cleveland and is home to just over 22,000 residents. Known as “The Carnation City,” the town is, in essence, a vintage snippet of America. A simple Google image search of the town name gives you old historic buildings, some pretty churches and a really odd picture of Bigfoot.
Yup, sounds like the U.S. of A.
Though it’s just an ordinary American town, Alliance is home to something extraordinary. There’s a school – a football program at a school – that has won 11 championships since 1993. The University of Mount Union, formerly Mount Union College, is home to the Purple Raiders, a Division III team full of Division I confidence. Each year they’re competitive, and though the program isn’t necessarily a top one for professionals, it’s actually given the NFL two top-notch wide receivers. And both of them are looking to have big seasons in 2013.
Pierre Garçon, WR, Washington Redskins
Garçon’s first season with the Redskins didn’t go as planned, as he injured his foot during Week 1 after scoring an 88-yard touchdown against the Saints. He still gave fantasy owners a nice four-reception, 109-yard stat line that day, but he went on to miss six of his next eight contests. It was clear that he wasn’t really ready to play until after the Skins’ Week 10 bye.
After that bye week hit, Garçon packed in three double-digit fantasy performances to finish off the season and was more than start-worthy in multiple league formats down the playoff stretch. He forced us to feel optimistic about 2013, even if his quarterback Robert Griffin III isn’t completely ready at the beginning of the year.
If you projected Garçon’s healthy game production over an entire 16-game season, he would’ve finished as a top-10 fantasy receiver. And while that’s not a great way to evaluate future fantasy production, there were metrics that make him appealing.
Garçon finished sixth in the NFL in yards after the catch per reception last season, ahead of big-play guys like Josh Gordon and Julio Jones. He also caught 44 of the 63 balls that went his way, which contributed to a catch rate that was 12th-best among receivers. His four touchdown receptions were also quite valuable considering the limited time he got to see the field last season.
According to rotoViz.com’s comparables tool, Garçon has a ceiling of 2010 Greg Jennings. That season, the then-Packers wideout caught 76 passes for 1,265 yards and 12 scores. He was the fourth-best fantasy wideout.
Though the position is deep in 2013, Garçon could provide the consistent value that is needed in a fantasy receiver. He had no less than three receptions during his healthy games last season and has proven to be a decent scorer. After all, he was able to haul in six touchdowns in 2011 with Curtis Painter throwing him the rock.
Garçon’s numbers have trended upward throughout his career, and he’s gotten better with each season he’s played. As long as he’s healthy, and especially if RGIII is too, you should expect potential WR1 numbers from the University of Mount Union receiver.
Cecil Shorts, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
The other Mount Union wideout, Cecil Shorts, had a stellar under-the-radar season for the Jaguars. After Jacksonville’s Week 6 bye, Shorts accumulated seven double-digit standard scoring performances (70 percent of his games, excluding Week 17) and scored five touchdowns. Over this time, Shorts was the ninth-best receiver in fantasy and was better than Eric Decker, A.J. Green, Roddy White, Reggie Wayne, Marques Colston, Wes Welker and Steve Smith.
Not bad for a guy who wasn’t drafted in any normal fantasy league.
Because of the depth at receiver, Shorts has been the 33rd receiver off the board in recent mock drafts on myfantasyleague.com. There’s a lot of skepticism surrounding the Jags receiver due to his quarterback’s play, but there’s no doubt that an eighth-round choice for Shorts could end up being a steal, especially when you consider how he finished his season.
In 2012, Shorts had a cool 2.31 yards per-route average, which ranked eighth among relevant receivers. To put that into perspective, Randall Cobb, Dez Bryant, Roddy White, Eric Decker and Marques Colston had lower averages.
Shorts also ranked 15th among receivers in terms of rating. His quarterbacks, Chad Henne and Blaine Gabbert, had a 94.5 quarterback rating when they threw the ball his way. Considering Henne’s NFL Quarterback Rating was 72.2, and Gabbert’s was 77.4, Shorts clearly helped make them better passers.
Using rotoViz’s comparable tools once again, there’s a potential for Shorts to reach 2012 A.J. Green levels in 2013. Clearly, better quarterback play will have to occur in order for that to happen, but it just goes to show just how underrated Shorts’ 2012 campaign was.
When you consider the potential, there may be no better wide receiver option in the seventh round of your fantasy drafts than Shorts. And because the position is as deep as it is, even if you miss with Shorts, there are plenty of other options available.