When Pierre Garcon was a rookie in the National Football League, he likely could not have asked for a better situation. The 2008 Indianapolis Colts didn't need receivers right away, but they were going to need one very soon.
When Marvin Harrison was released after the 2008 season, Reggie Wayne became quarterback Peyton Manning's No. 1, and by Game 2 of the 2009 season, Garcon was lining up as the No. 2. Nurtured early in his career by one of the greatest QBs of the era—and learning from one of the greatest WRs of the era—Garcon was groomed for big things.
In 2009, he played in 14 games, caught 47 passes for 765 yards and scored four touchdowns. Garcon served as a viable deep threat for Manning.
In 2010, his number was called more often: 67 receptions, 784 yards and six TDs.
Garcon and the Colts would play the 2011 season without Manning, who was out for the year with a neck injury. Despite the team going 2-14 under QB Kerry Collins, Garcon managed to have his best season yet: 70 receptions, 947 yards and six TDs.
The 2012 season brought Garcon to the Washington Redskins.
Although only able to play in 10 games because of a foot injury (see Bang for Your Buck below), Garcon's 663 yards and four TDs aided then-rookie QB Robert Griffin III to Pro Bowl and AP Rookie of the Year honors.
The 10-6 Redskins were 9-1 in games where Garcon played.
The foot injury that Garcon sustained in 2012 actually improves his potential upon consideration. If he went for 663 yards and four TDs with an injured foot in only 10 games, imagine his numbers in a full season with a healed foot. You're looking at 1,000 yards minimum just based on statistical odds alone.
With a foot that is no longer causing problems, Garcon will be able to utilize his strongest asset: speed. More speed at the WR position will open up the running game for the Redskins and spread the defense so that RGIII can pick it apart. That can only spell more catches for the receivers.
Right now on Yahoo! Fantasy Football, Garcon is projected to be drafted 41st overall (16th among WRs), be owned by 97 percent of leagues, go for 1,117 yards, score 6.6 TDs and earn 154.05 fantasy points during the 2013 season. If he stays healthy, I wouldn't be surprised if he exceeded those numbers and neither would Garcon himself.
The Bang for Your Buck
Because of the previous injury to his foot in addition to a recent shoulder surgery, many fantasy owners might be hesitant to take a chance on Garcon. As the Redskins' No. 1 receiver, Garcon has the potential to give you first-round numbers from a third-to-fourth round pick. If most leagues have 10 teams, then Yahoo!'s prediction puts Garcon as the first pick of the fourth round.
That's not too shabby.
You can feel confident in picking up Garcon without fear of his injuries.
Along with RGIII, he could go if he needed to, but the smart call right now is to just play it safe until the regular season starts. Like he told NFL AM back in June (h/t Brian Tinsman of the team's official site):
"If there was a game tomorrow I’d be able to play, but we’re just taking precautions just to make sure it heals up properly."
He did get a little playing time in last week's preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Waiting until Garcon comes to you in your draft shouldn't be too difficult, but I wouldn't chance it beyond the fourth round. When RGIII starts hitting him on 15-yard post routes like clockwork, you will thank me.
The Supporting Cast
Speaking of RGIII, he is one of the big reasons why Garcon is such an attractive pickup. Last season was a learning experience for the rookie, and he will look to stay in the pocket more in 2013. That spells great news for Garcon's fantasy owners, who would love it if RGIII attempted more passes than runs.
Although Garcon is the No. 1 WR, a star needs protection around him. For Garcon, that will come in the form of returning targets WRs Leonard Hankerson, Josh Morgan and Santana Moss (No. 89 in the picture). Fullback and tight end Fred Davis (No. 83 in the picture) will also attract defensive attention.
Garcon has the team support, skill and confidence to make big plays next year for the Redskins and fantasy owners alike. The only question mark is how well that foot will hold up without offseason surgery. If you are willing to look past that risk—and frankly, which football player is not at risk of injury—then Garcon is a steal as a fourth rounder with upside as a No. 1 WR in most leagues.