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Pierre Garcon: A return to the top?

Pierre Garcon is reunited with Kyle Shanahan. Find out what kind of impact this reunion will have on his fantasy outlook. Can he finish as a top-20 WR?

Pierre Garcon
Pierre Garcon

No, Pierre Garcon did not join the 49ers in hopes of winning a championship. Not this year at least. He joined the 49ers to be reunited with his former Offensive Coordinator. You know, the one he thrived under back in 2013. Maybe Garcon cares about his fantasy football stats and realizes Shanahan is the secret formula to a big season. Or maybe Garcon just wants to be the highest rated player in Madden on his team. All valid points. Regardless of the real reason for joining the 49ers, one thing is clear: Pierre Garcon is going to be fed the ball this year.

 

The Data on Garcon

Now that we have the reason Garcon joined the 49ers cleared up, we can dig into just how big of a factor Kyle Shanahan actually plays regarding a Wide Receiver’s success in terms of fantasy points.  In the table below you will see nine seasons worth of data from 2008 – 2016. Kyle Shanahan was an Offensive Coordinator during these seasons, which is the reason for the time period.  Pro-football-reference.com was used to obtain player stats, while fantasydata.com was used to gather fantasy points scored in PPR scoring.

You will notice that in only three of the eight seasons the #1 receiver under Shanahan finished outside the top-20. Two of those three seasons were within 12 points of 20th overall.  There was only one notably bad season from Shanahan’s best receiver and that was a 48th place finish by Andrew Hawkins of the Cleveland Browns. Sorry Browns fans, but not even the offensive wizard Shanahan could fix that team.

 

Player Catches Yards TDs Fantasy Points Scored 20th Overall WR Place Finished
Andre Johnson 115 1575 8 320.5 214 1st
Andre Johnson 101 1569 9 311.9 209.4 1st
Santana Moss 93 1115 6 240.5 204.5 12th
Jabar Gaffney 68 947 5 192.7 205 26th
Pierre Garcon (10 games**) 44 643 4 211.68 215.1 21st**
Pierre Garcon 113 1346 5 277.6 213.9 11th
Andrew Hawkins 63 824 2 157.4 212 48th
Julio Jones 136 1871 8 371.1 218 2nd
Julio Jones 83 1409 6 259.9 212.6 6th

 

**In 2012, Pierre Garcon was the leading receiver for the Redskins under Kyle Shanahan but had only played ten games.

The Reunion

This table just goes to show how much Kyle Shanahan values his #1 guy to catch a high volume of passes.  For reference on current year implications, according to Fantasy Football Calculator, Garcon is currently being drafted in the 8th round in 12 team leagues. He is currently going around 98th overall and is the 39th Wide Receiver coming off the board.  For a guy who is clearly going to lead his team in targets, and is playing for the most receiver-friendly coach in the NFL, I will be loading up on Pierre Garcon, especially in PPR formats.

Not only is the situation attractive on the surface, but again we have to remember that Garcon has played a few seasons under Shanahan already as well. One season stands out in particular: According to pro-football-reference.com, in 2013 Garcon had 113 catches for 1346 yards and 5 TDs under Shanahan and as previously highlighted, finished as the #11 overall PPR receiver according to fantasydata.com.

I suppose a slight case could be made in standard formats that he won’t catch as many touchdowns as a lot of the receivers being drafted ahead of him, but just know that is not what you are drafting him for. However, in the 2013 season referenced above, he finished as the #13 overall receiver in standard scoring despite only catching 5 TDs.  The TDs are nice, but in Garcon’s situation, they aren’t required.

Regardless of format, he is being drafted in a range where he has 0% risk and 100% reward. If Garcon stays healthy, he should easily finish in the top-20 Wide Receivers in PPR formats and could even flirt with top-15.  On the other side of that, even if he stays outside of the top-20, you are currently spending a 98th overall pick for one of the safest receivers on the board. It is a win-win situation. Not even Brian Hoyer can ruin Garcon’s production this year.

 

Conclusion

I’ll take my chances in PPR formats because the volume is the major factor. Give me the guy who is going to be near the top of the leaderboard in targets for the season every single time.  This same reason is why one could possibly make a case for Mike Evans as the #1 overall PPR receiver. Evans saw a ridiculous 175 targets last season AND is a red zone monster. Speaking of a ridiculous amount of targets, in Kyle Shanahan’s offense in 2015, according to pro-football-reference.com, Julio Jones saw 203 targets. Two-hundred and three targets! Garcon shouldn’t see an absurd 200 targets, but there is always hope.

Be sure to keep an eye on Garcon’s progress through camp.

Sports have always been my #1 passion. I have been playing fantasy football since I was 15 years old. At the age of 5 I was known for reading box scores in the newspaper instead of watching cartoons like the 'normal' kids. I played professional baseball in an independent league. Even though I played baseball for over 20 years of my life, fantasy football is by far my biggest passion among fantasy sports. I provide insight regarding Redraft leagues and DFS here at The Fantasy Authority.

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