Written by Josh Haymond @JPesoFF
The conundrum – Both receivers are quite physical. One has youth and prototypical size but deals with third fiddle targets. The other provides a short-term lineup upgrade and is the unquestioned top target in his offense.
Alshon Jeffery, CHI
After destroying the SEC in 2010 to the tune of 88 receptions for 1517 yards and 9 TDs as a sophomore, Alshon Jeffery had a disappointing junior season at South Carolina, catching just 49 passes for 762 yards and 8 TDs. The Bears traded up in the second round of the 2012 Draft to select Jeffery. Flashing pro-level talent in the off-season, an early October hand fracture derailed Jeffery’s season, causing him to miss four consecutive games. Jeffery returned in week 11 but left the game with a knee injury, missing an additional two games. In 10 games, Jeffery finished his rookie season with 24 catches for 367 yards and 3 TD.
Offseason reports indicate that Jeffery is a different player than last season. He’s gained the trust of his quarterback and coaching staff. Jeffery is at best the third option in the offense behind Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte, serving as a benefit in his development. He won’t be asked to be “the guy”, but in a high-powered offense where Cutler will once again approach 30 attempts per game, Jeffery will have plenty of opportunities to be heard.
Jeffery is as physical a receiver as they come – on several occasions last year, Jeffery had huge plays called back due to offensive pass interference calls. Once he curbs his strength, defensive backs will have their hands full. Jeffery can make over the shoulder catches in his sleep. He has large, sticky hands, deceptive build-up speed and an impressive wingspan, similar on all accounts to Hakeem Nicks. But Jeffery, two inches taller than Nicks, may prove to be the greater red zone threat. His ceiling will remain unknown until the 2015 season, but he is without question ready for a sharp dynasty value increase.
2013 Projection: 16 games, 65 receptions, 930 receiving yards, 7 TD = 200 PPR, 12.5 PPR PPG
Pierre Garcon, WAS
After dominating Division III football for four years at Mount Union College, the Indianapolis Colts stole Pierre Garcon in the sixth round of the 2008 Draft. Garcon was quiet as a rookie, but in his last three years in Indy, Garcon averaged over 4 catches, 55 yards, and .4 TD per game. Last offseason Garcon received a 5-year, $42.5 million contract from the Redskins. Zapped by a torn ligament in his foot, Garcon hobbled his way through 10 games, totaling 44 grabs for 633 and 4 TD. This offseason, Garcon forwent surgery on the foot. He did, however, repair a torn labrum after the Redskins were bounced from the playoffs.
Garcon plays much larger than 6’0’’, 212. He is an extremely physical receiver who excels in possession-laden situations. Garcon has a knack for finding open spaces in defenses, making him an ideal chain mover when paired with a mobile quarterback like Griffin. In his late 20’s, Garcon has lost the 4.4 40-yard-dash wheels he displayed at the combine, and will rely more on his instincts rather than athleticism. Although capable of scoring 10 TD again, Garcon is a serviceable but not terrific red zone threat.
Even when healthy in the past, Garcon has yet to score like a top fantasy wideout – in 2011, his best season, he averaged 12.6 PPR PPG. In 2013, a healthy Garcon would eclipse these numbers. The Redskins did little to address their receiving core in the short-term. The athleticism-depleted Santana Moss will once again start opposite Garcon. Fred Davis, back from an Achilles tear, will serve as the team’s second option in the passing game. Washington drafted tight-end Jordan Reed in the third round, but Reed is unlikely to make a 2013 impact.
2013 Projection: 15 games, 75 receptions, 1110 receiving yards, 6 TD = 222 PPR, 14.8 PPR PPG
No question that Garcon is the better short-term option, and if healthy he will have his best season yet. But Garcon has burned his dynasty bridges with many fantasy owners. Meanwhile, Jeffery is over 3 years younger than Garcon. His pedigree will shine through this season, bringing plenty of owners to the table in trade negotiations. In 2014, Jeffery will approach Garcon numbers, making Jeffery the more market-friendly asset. In 2015, when Jeffery is 25 and Garcon is 29, the value discrepancy will be enormous.
The winner of this battle is Alshon Jeffery.
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