3-Point Stance: Garcon, other deep names worth mining for late in fantasy drafts
As the mercury rises, Brad Evans and Liz Loza will tackle pressing fantasy questions tied to every NFL team. Read, ponder and get a jump on your offseason research. Monday’s topic: The San Francisco 49ers.
Due to health concerns and overall situation, Carlos Hyde remains a divisive figure in the fantasy community. A recent observation from OTAs noted the rusher looked like “the slowest and most indecisive running back on the team,” a take that only fanned the flames. Under a new coaching regime commanded by Kyle Shanahan and with plenty of competition just over his shoulder (e.g. Tim Hightower and Joe Williams), is the comment from OTAs NEWS or FAKE NEWS?
Liz – NEWS. Injuries aside, Hyde has always struggled to live up to his workhorse potential. In his rookie outing, while playing a supporting role to Frank Gore (who, by the way, hasn’t missed a game since landing in Indianapolis and has out-rushed his former protégé for the past two seasons straight) Hyde’s production waned as his touches increased, averaging under 3.0 YPC each time he received more than 9 totes. The following year, when given the starting gig, the Ohio State product averaged over 3.6 YPC in just two out of the seven contests for which he was healthy. In fact, it wasn’t until the last third of 2016 that Hyde started to come on, averaging 5.6 YPC from Weeks 11 – 17. Given the data, it reasonable to believe that Hyde isn’t adapting quickly.
Furthermore, Kyle Shanahan loves himself a rookie running back. Alfred Morris produced top-five fantasy numbers in his freshman campaign. Isaiah Crowell managed top twenty-seven stats (despite starting just four games) during his inaugural outing. And while Tevin Coleman missed most of his rookie season due to injury, he closed out the second year of his pro career as the eighteenth most productive fantasy player at the position. I’m not saying Joe Williams is a sure thing, especially given the 49ers deplorable run-blocking unit, but if Hyde can’t get it together Williams will get his shot… and fast.
Brad – FAKE NEWS. When the reaper claims my soul, the tombstone above my grave will read, “Here lies Brad Evans, a man who fought for liberty, justice and the pursuit of Carlos Hyde (and Ryan Mathews, Brandon Jacobs, fine tequila, etc.).” Admittedly he’s a pet player, but viewing the above note objectively it’s hard to take it for gospel this early in the game. Of course Williams and Hightower pose serious threats, but Hyde is a superior talent who’s proven effective as a zone runner. He previously excelled as one at Ohio State and recently with his current team under Chip Kelly.
Getting technical, Shanahan’s zone focuses on an outside gap compared to Kelley’s shotgun-based interior arrangement, but they feature similar core principals – find hole, cut and sprint upfield. Hyde, who I feel is a decisive downhill runner, will be highly successful once familiarized. His glowing secondary profile supports the notion. Last season, he ranked inside the position’s top-10 in yards after contact per touch (RB6), total evaded tackles (RB7) and breakaway runs (RB8). And he achieved that behind THE worst run-blocking unit in the NFL per Football Outsiders.
Maybe he had Montezuma’s revenge the day observed. Who the heck knows? What I do know is that Hyde is a very under-appreciated talent thrust into an upside situation who should net at least 65 percent of the opportunity share. The injury imp is his nemesis, but I believe he tallies a top-15 line in 2017 (41.9 ADP, RB16). Ignore the above writer’s derision.
San Francisco’s new boss made it very clear earlier this offseason he brought Pierre Garcon in because of the receiver’s leadership and still high execution level. Are you buying or selling the veteran wide receiver as a WR3 in 12-team leagues?
Brad – BUYING. A severe case of Francophobia has afflicted thousands in Fantasyland. It’s unwarranted. Everyone’s favorite “Frenchy” shouldn’t fall outside the position’s top-36 in drafts. Period.
Brian Hoyer is a competent passer who was shockingly pinpoint (67.0 completion percentage in ’16) before a broken forearm prematurely ended his season with Chicago. Garcon, who still runs crisp routes and owns sticky hands (Zero drops in ’16), is sure to be the object of Hoyer’s affection. Don’t be surprised if the wideout lures 22-25 percent of the target share, accomplishing much of that work in the short-to-intermediate field.
In the end, Garcon’s TD total may not titillate, but he’ll be a heartthrob in PPR leagues. Pencil me in for a final line around 85-1090-5. Outside Cameron Meredith, there isn’t a better wide receiver value buy on the market (Garcon ADP: 76.2, WR38).
Liz – BUYING. In Kyle Shanahan’s second year as OC in Washington, when healthy for a full 16-game slate, Garcon produced a 113-1,346-5 stat line, placing him just outside of the top-twelve fantasy producers at the WR position. For the past two seasons he’s managed WR3 stats, averaging between 11 and 12 fantasy points per contest. Noting Garcon’s familiarity with Shanahan, the lack of depth behind him, and Brian Hoyer’s good-enough-ness, there’s no reason to believe the vet won’t remain consistent for another season.
DUMPSTER DIVING. The unheralded Niner owners should willingly chase in the double-digit rounds of 12-team drafts is ________.
Liz – ALDRICK ROBINSON. Entering his fifth year in the league, Robinson played under Shanahan in Washington and Atlanta. Ironically, he scored his first career TD in 2012, after subbing in for Garcon when the starter went out with a foot injury. A gutty player with 4.3 speed, Robinson comps similarly to Taylor Gabriel, who shone in Shanahan’s system last season.
Clearly a fan of his skill set, the 49ers new HC figures to find a role for the speedster. His progress over the summer must be monitored closely, as he has a solid shot of lining up as the team’s No. 2 WR come September.
Brad – BRUCE ELLINGTON. The overlooked target was a fixture on deep sleeper lists prior to the 2016 season. However, a torn hamstring quickly eliminated any shot at a breakout. Still working his way back from the devastating setback, he’s in line to start opposite Garcon, provided his legs don’t spontaneously combust. He missed time in OTAs, but, as his advanced physical metrics indicate, he possesses intriguing baseline attributes. Get healthy and impress in training camp and Ellington could flirt with 55-60 receptions this fall. It’s not like Marquis Goodwin, Jeremy Kerley and rookie Trent Taylor present fearsome competition. Monitor the dark horse’s progress.