The only discussion surrounding San Francisco in fantasy football circles is the sudden idea that Carlos Hyde is going to disappear entirely and allow Joe Williams to be the starting running back. There’s little-to-no discussion of the passing game. It makes sense, as the 49ers as we know them have been built on a running game (Frank Gore to Carlos Hyde, and even Colin Kaepernick’s value was tied up in his legs). There was brief flirtations with Michael Crabtree, but by and large, fantasy football has ignored 49ers’ wide receivers. That should change with Kyle Shanahan’s offense and Pierre Garcon’s own history. It’s time we stop ignoring Pierre Garcon, especially in any PPR or 0.5 PPR leagues.
First, Kyle Shanahan’s offense funnels targets to the primary wide receiver, to the detriment of the secondary receivers. The #1 WR in a Kyle Shanahan offense garners 9.6 targets per game, going all the way back to 2008 and Andre Johnson. While he’s had two all-timers in Johnson and Julio Jones, the high target volume held true for Santana Moss, Andrew Hawkins and, yep, Pierre Garcon. This connection peaked in 2013 when Garcon garnered an astounding 11.3 targets per game. His 181 targets tie Antonio Brown (2014) and Andre Johnson (2013) for the eighth-most targets since 2004. He turned that into 113 receptions and 1346 yards, but only five touchdowns.
Granted, 2017 Pierre Garcon can’t be expected to turn in such a performance, but his league-leading 113 snags that year turned him into the #11 wide receiver in PPR and #13 in standard scoring. He was the only game in town, as he promises to be the only receiving threat in San Francisco this season. We can’t expect him to be the exact Garcon from 2013. He’s set to be 31 when the season starts, but that isn’t a cliff like it is for running backs. He also set a career high in catch percentage, and had his highest yards, receptions and yards per reception since his career 2013. He quietly went over 1000 yards and sat just shy of 80 receptions. He was legitimately good last year, but only three TDs kept him from fantasy football stardom. Even with the missing TDs, he was WR32 in standard and WR22 in PPR.
Garcon is currently WR37 off the board by ADP, per FantasyPros.com. On average, he’s going 89th overall, which is the middle of the seventh round in twelve-team leagues. He’s shown that he can out-produce that in the past, and did do so last year. This season should see a normalization in his TDs, which would bump him into top-twenty in PPR leagues and easily top-thirty in standard scoring. Yet, he’s become an afterthought. His track record, where he’s been at least a WR3 for three-of-four years, shows that he will be an unsexy pick that will be a great glue guy and bye week fill-in. He won’t be the pick that gets you back pats at the draft table, but he might just help you hoist that trophy in December.