Editor’s Note: This article is co-written by Member Writer Eric Dickens and DLF Partner Ken Kelly. It’s an opinion piece designed strictly to make a strong case for two particular players matched up head-to-head. After reading, cast your vote in the poll for who you would choose between these two players.
We continue on with a staple series of articles here at DLF – the dynasty debate. These debates are designed to give an argument for either keeping or trading for a player of similar value. Use these debates to help you in making trade decisions or in your initial dynasty league drafts.
The Case for Pierre Garcon
In 1998, the Indianapolis Colts drafted a quarterback by the name of Peyton Manning as the first overall pick. Including that draft, the Colts have made it a clear priority to spend a good number of their draft picks either providing protection or weapons for Manning. In the 2008 NFL draft alone, they used three of their picks on offensive lineman and three of their picks on pass catchers. The last of those pass catchers was none other than Pierre Garcon, whom they selected with the 39th pick in the sixth round, 205th overall.
If you’re thinking back and wondering where you saw Garcon play collegiately, you’re likely going to be scratching your head for a while. After all, not many people attended the games of Division III Mount Union, where Garcon averaged nearly 1,200 yards and over 16 touchdowns in two seasons. While he may not have been a household name come draft time, he landed in a great situation and eventually made the most of it.
Garcon’s rookie campaign was mostly forgettable as he compiled just four catches for 23 yards. However, just making the team was an accomplishment as a sixth round pick. In 2009, Garcon built upon the valuable experience he gained as a rookie and posted a surprising 765 yards and four scores on 47 catches. His 16.3 yards per catch average was in the top ten for wide receivers with at least 45 receptions. However, last year was a bit of a disappointment as he recorded 67 catches, 784 yards and six touchdowns.
Perhaps the bar was raised just a bit too high, too early.
Garcon is still just 24 years old and has shown some real flashes of brilliance, including a 112-yard performance against the Jets that included a crucial touchdown in the playoffs last year. He has a big play ability and seems to still be growing within the offense. After a full three seasons, he’s primed for a serious breakout – it’s easy to forget that he’s still no cagey veteran.
The biggest thing Garcon has going for him is his playing situation. As a starting wide receiver for the Colts, he finds himself with no shortage of targets from one of the league’s all-time best quarterbacks. Even as the third option behind Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark, there are always enough balls to make anyone on the Colts offense a force to be reckoned with.
Adding to the upside of Garcon is the fact that Reggie Wayne is getting older. We all know how fast Marvin Harrison dropped off and the Colts never missed a beat by replacing him with Wayne. While Garcon has nowhere near the talent of Wayne, he started seeing more and more attention from Manning as last season wore on. You can safely expect that trend to continue as long as Garcon continues to improve his route running and drop rate. By the time Manning retires, Garcon could be entrenched as close to a number one option. The sky’s the limit if he works hard enough.
Mike Thomas is a fine young player, but he’ll have either Blaine Gabbert or David Garrard passing him the ball for the foreseeable future. Even as a number one receiver, his upside is limited because of the inevitable ineptness of the Jaguars passing offense in comparison the explosive nature of the Colts and their Manning-led offensive machine.
You can play it safe with Thomas and get a guy who could catch 80 passes and come close to 1,000 yards with a handful of touchdowns. I’ll put my money on Garcon, whose ceiling is substantially higher with #18 pitching it around the yard.
The Case for Mike Thomas
Thomas is far from a household name, but that’s going to change quickly this season. He has the talent, ability and playing situation to emerge as a quality receiver in dynasty leagues, especially that reward points for receptions.
The Jaguars are a team in transition. David Garrard is most certainly at the end of the line as the starting quarterback and is destined to eventually give way to Blaine Gabbert. The Jaguar offense starts and ends with Maurice Jones-Drew as well and will most certainly continue to be run based. This combination of facts should steer you away from Thomas on your dynasty league squad, right?
Not so fast.
Thomas enters his key third season fresh off a campaign that featured 820 receiving yards on 66 catches as the Jaguars number two option next to Mike Sims-Walker. With MSW all but gone via free agency, the Jags have repeatedly stated Thomas is going to be the top option this season. Moving to the outside should give him even more touchdown opportunities. As the top option in the passing game, his targets are destined to be enormous. It seems like a given that we’d easily see an increase from the four scores he had last year as well.
While many other receivers are making the news for DUIs, stabbing incidents and torn ACLs, Thomas has been working every day back in Arizona in an effort to get himself in top physical condition. He’s always been known as a hard worker and this news just solidifies that “Money” Mike Thomas is here to stay.
Thomas is extremely fast, as shown by his numerous 4.3 forty times that have been clocked in the past couple of years. He’s also extremely quick. At only 5’8″, he’s not going to win too many jump balls, but the comparisons to Steve Smith of the Panthers and Wes Welker of the Patriots aren’t too far off. He may end up being a poor man’s version of those two, but there’s nothing wrong with that.
Pierre Garcon is a nice young player, but he’s no better than the third option in the Colts offense behind Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark. Sure, Peyton Manning is light years ahead of Gabbert or Garrard, but I’ll go with the player who will have guaranteed targets, especially on one that’s likely going to be forced to play from behind a lot. What happens when Manning retires after four or five more seasons? Thomas and Gabbert should be hitting their prime right about then while Garcon is going to be forced to take a step back.
Thomas is being severely undervalued in dynasty leagues right now. Forecasting 80 catches, 1,000 yards and six to eight touchdowns seems to be on the conservative side. He’s a prime trade candidate right now and clearly the better option when compared to Pierre Garcon.
If you wait to get him, it could be too late.