In this series, RotoViz writers identify their favorite 2018 bounceback candidates. These are players whose sub-ADP performance disappointed their fantasy owners last season. As a result, their fantasy football draft prices are deflated, representing an opportunity to profit when they return to form this year.
Pierre Garcon accumulated 40 receptions for 500 receiving yards through eight games last season. He was on pace for his third 1,000-yard receiving campaign before being placed on injured reserve by the 49ers due to a neck injury in Week 8. The 31-year old receiver will return this season with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo under center in an improved 49ers offense. Despite a solid profile, plenty of doubt remains.
The veteran has been affordable all summer but became increasingly inexpensive after recent reports that Marquise Goodwin was poised to jump him for targets. All of this sets up to make Garcon an excellent bounceback value.
The Sterling Resume
From an opportunity-agnostic perspective, Garcon is wildly undervalued. The similarity tool in the Fantasy Stat Explorer projects him as the No. 23 overall WR, ahead of big names like Brandin Cooks, Stefon Diggs, and Doug Baldwin.
Garcon’s PPG average has stayed very constant over the last four years, numbers that have held up across different teams, quarterbacks, and coaches. Before the 2017 season, he’d played in every fantasy contest from 2013 to 2017 and scored at least 150 points.
THE SHANAHAN OFFENSE
The No. 1 receivers in Kyle Shanahan’s offenses frequently see the type of heavy target volume that translates into fantasy production.
Garcon’s career-best output came in 2013 with Shanahan as Washington’s offensive coordinator. He grabbed 113 receptions for 1,346 receiving yards that season. Could he post a season with numbers in between that level and the 1,041 yards he notched in 2016?
The late season insertion of Garoppolo offers reason to be optimistic. The 49ers passing offense improved dramatically with Garoppolo under center. Over their final five contests, the team’s net passing yards per game jumping from 222.8 to 297.
Advanced Receiving Stats and 2018 Situation
This type of passing volume bodes well for Garcon, but the target competition he now faces is a legitimate concern. Goodwin posted career-highs last season with 962 receiving yards. Rookie tight end George Kittle authored a mini-breakout and tied for the fifth-most TE red zone targets (16). Jerick McKinnon should fill most of the 88 targets vacated by Carlos Hyde. And the 49ers drafted Dante Pettis in the second round to be the future of the receiver position.
But there are positive trends as well. Garcon’s weighted opportunity rating of 0.50 was actually better last year than in the three previous. He wasn’t able to translate this into production – he wracked up -13.3 fantasy points over expectation during his half season – in large part due to the presence of Brian Hoyer and C.J. Beathard.
While Garcon was able to maintain impressive numbers in yards after catch (4.8) and target percentage (21%), he was underused and ineffective down the field, posting virtually no production on targets more than 10 yards down the field.1
Buy Garcon at these prices
With improved efficiency – Garcon averaged over 11 PPG last season without catching a touchdown – the 49ers nominal No. 1 is in position to outperform his ADP even if he’s forced to split some of the volume with younger receivers. You can target this bounceback candidate in the seventh or eighth round of your fantasy draft and capture a ton of upside possibility while taking on very little risk.
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- He lassoed nine receptions on 25 targets, compared to 29 of 41 underneath. (back)