Is Percy Harvin Worth a Roster Stash?

Percy Harvin may be back by Week 7. Is it good roster strategy to stash him?

Percy Harvinrecently tweeted that he may return to the field as early as Week 7, and many managers are wondering if stashing Harvin is a prudent decision.

Let's take a look.

Harvin's Production Potential

First, we have to know what kind of production to expect. Our projections have Harvin averaging 11.23 standard fantasy points per game. This equates to 180 fantasy points over a full season, which would have been good for 10th-best amongst wide receivers last season. For even more perspective, only 12 running backs scored more than 180 fantasy points in 2012. Harvin projects as a low-end WR1 when he does play, which is clearly valuable. If you need even more convincing, check out Zach Warren’s article about how Harvin could be even better with Russell Wilson than he was in Minnesota.

Adding Harvin to Your Bench

Your fantasy bench serves two purposes: depth and upside. You’ll definitely need depth at running back because they frequently get injured, are generally the safest flex options, are the most valuable trade assets, and also possess inherent upside should they gain a heavier workload. But the other place you’ll find strong upside is at wide receiver. It's common for managers to draft a late round 'flier' at the wide receiver position in hopes that he breaks out at some point during the season. Harvin can be viewed as a flier of sorts. Except with Harvin, you already have a great idea of exactly how much production he’s capable of, and as the season wears on, you’ll also gain clarity on when he’ll begin to put up that production.

Quick! Stash Him If:

Your league allows an Injured Reserve slot. An IR slot is perfect for stashing Harvin. You gain all of his upside at no cost, because your IR slot doesn't count as an additional bench slot.

You have a backup kicker or a backup defense on your bench. Backup kickers and defenses are about as worthless as a New York Jets passing play. The good ones don't drastically outscore the bad ones, and decent options will hit the waiver wire weekly because savvy managers don’t keep more than one of each on their roster.

You have a backup tight end on your bench. Most leagues start only one tight end, and tight ends rarely score more than running backs or wide receivers, so they don’t merit flex spot starts unless a favorable matchup arises. If you chose two sleeper tight ends late, remember that you’ll only be starting one per week, so consider only keeping the one you feel better about. If you have a second tight end on your roster because you’ve already stashed Rob Gronkowski, then you’ll need to keep your second tight end until Gronk returns. However, I strongly believe Harvin makes an excellent stash for Gronkowski owners. Consider that if you drafted Gronk, chances are you chose him at the expense of another strong wide receiver in the middle rounds. Stashing Harvin gives you a chance to recover that value and then some for the stretch run. Adding Gronkowski and then Harvin to a good core may make your squad nearly unbeatable.

You have a backup quarterback on your roster that you don’t plan on streaming. Unless you have a potentially injury-prone running quarterback as your starter (think Michael Vick or Robert Griffin III), there’s no reason to waste a spot on a backup. Of the top-24 quarterbacks last season, 20 played in all 16 games, and the other four combined to miss six games total. You’re only going to use your backup during a bye week. If you drafted your backup early, explore two-for-one trade possibilities where you package him in with another bench player to simultaneously upgrade your roster and make room for Harvin.

You stashed Justin Blackmon. We have Blackmon projected to score 7.71 fantasy points per game this season, 3.52 per game less than Harvin. Of the 36 wide receivers with at least 60 catches in 2012, Harvin ranked 2/36 with a 72.94% catch rate, while Blackmon ranked 34/36 at 48.48%. Harvin has upgraded at quarterback with Russell Wilson, while Blackmon still has Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne. I shouldn't need to spell out who has the greater upside here, but I will anyway: H-A-R-V-I-N. With Harvin possibly missing only two more games than Blackmon, I’d strongly consider the swap. If you can, try to package Blackmon in a two-for-one trade to upgrade your roster and make room for Harvin.

You took a flier. Many fantasy owners stack their bench with nothing but running back and wide receiver depth, which is a very good idea. If this is your situation, carefully analyze your weakest bench player. If this player is simply a high upside flier, strongly consider dropping him. Look at it this way: you selected the flier because you felt he could potentially break out sometime during 2013. Unless you have a strong inclination that this player will do so way before Week 7, you’re not losing much by stashing Harvin. Remember, you’re treating Harvin like a flier as well - he won’t contribute value right away but there’s a solid chance he’ll be a stud at some point during the second half of the season.

Just Don't Sacrifice Your Running Back Depth

If you’re very strong at wide receiver, it is very possible that stashing Harvin does not represent strong value to you. Loading up at wide receiver usually means you passed on the stronger running backs early in your draft and may need every spot on your bench for running back depth. Again, running back depth is the one thing I do not recommended you sacrifice on your fantasy roster. Valuable running backs are almost impossible to find on the waiver wire. However, if you have absolute studs at wide receiver and you’re sure you’ll be starting the same ones week in and week out, do consider carrying only one other wide receiver on your bench (for bye week purposes), and still stashing Harvin.

Now, You Wait

Stashing Percy Harvin does not have to be permanent. You’re going to hold on to him as long as you can without having to sacrifice points in your starting lineup or sacrifice your running back depth. If word comes out that he’s had a setback, or if you simply can’t afford to keep him anymore, you can simply drop him again. If you’ve still got him by Week 5 or so, he may even become a trade asset. But if you’re able to hold onto him until he returns, you very well may have a stud on your hands, just in time for the playoffs.