Percy Harvin: It's Go Time
Look at Pete Carroll. How happy is he? He's so happy! He just got himself a brand new Percy Harvin!
Like Pete, Harvin fantasy owners have been waiting, visualizing and dreaming about his return to the field. If you recall, upon his arrival to Seattle following a trade with the Vikings, it was discovered that Percy had a hip ailment that would shelve him for most of the season. Luckily, Harvin found the same elixir that Adrian Peterson and RGIII swigged from, beasting through his rehab. He's now back.
On Monday, Percy Harvin was activated from the PUP list. Hopeful to face off against his old team this weekend, the Vikings, is there reason to get excited about his return?
Perceiving Is Believing
Percy Harvin is an electric football player. During his time with the Vikings, he was essentially a human Swiss Army knife - he did it all. Excelling with a variety of touches in the form of bubble screens, short passes and kick returns, Harvin was changing form in Minnesota like Ditto.
Any time the ball is in his hands, the smallest amount of open space means he's got a legitimate chance to house it. Before Percy was injured during Week 9 last year (versus the Seahawks, coincidentally) he was leading the league in all-purpose yards, was second in receptions and seventh in receiving yards (577). This came despite shifting around to multiple spots on Minnesota’s offense (including, at times, running back) and drawing opposing defenses’ top cover man.
He also led the NFL in YAC (yards after catch), and was a popular choice for league MVP consideration. It just proves the point, "That guy is good! Real good!" as Brett Favre exuberantly exclaimed in 2009.
Upon being activated and brought up to speed, Seattle's prized offseason acquisition is surely to be integrated heavily into the offense. Fantasy owners and Seahawks fans alike are hoping for an explosive return.
Get Your Role On
Percy will step right in as a starting receiver for the Seahawks who are looking for a talent infusion after a season-ending injury to Sidney Rice. Doug Baldwin, who was discussed on numberFire recently, has been receiving a heavy dose of targets (18) over the past two weeks. He actually moved to Rice's role, so Harvin should step right into a slot role seamlessly.
Seahawks beat writers Curtis Crabtree and Liz Mathews both told me that, once fully unleashed, Harvin should jump into a kickoff return role again too. In fact, Carroll said today he's "counting on that" when asked whether Harvin will participate in the return game, but will make sure he's ready first. He's proven to be lethal returning kicks during his first four years, scoring five touchdowns. It's definitely a nice potential plus to his fantasy prospects.
Golden Tate has really blossomed this year as well, which will only help draw a bit of attention away in the pass game. Jermaine Kearse has flashed a bit lately, but isn't a huge threat to thwart targets from Harvin (nine targets over the past four weeks). If anything, he's provided a need to the Hawks as a deep threat, furthermore potentially opening up the field.
Sidney Rice's season-ending injury only amplifies the need for Percy the playmaker to emerge and eviscerate. Harvin has produced regardless of his supporting cast though, as last year during his MVP-like run his fellow receivers were Michael Jenkins, Jarius Wright, Devin Aromashodu and Jerome Simpson. If there's ever a case of being "matchup proof", the proof is in the pudd... Harvin.
A Little Cautionary Tale
Getting Harvin back is a clear positive for your fantasy team. That's not to say, however, that there aren't a couple of things to be mindful of. Part of the reason Harvin was traded from Minnesota was supposedly his disdain for his quarterback, Christian Ponder. Luckily, Harvin's got a much better situation in Seattle with Russell Wilson.
When it comes to the aerial attack in Seattle, Wilson is ranked 7th out of 38 qualifying quarterbacks (with at least 100 pass attempts) with a 0.15 Net Expected Points Per Pass (NEP/Pass) score. This goes to show that when Russell dials up his right hand man, it's likely going to be efficient.
When it comes to drop backs though, Wilson ranks 19th of 38 qualifying quarterbacks with 285. And although the team is efficient throwing the ball, Seattle ranks 24th in the NFL with just 208.6 yards passing per game.
Can Harvin succeed in an offense, target-wise, with middle-of-the-road volume? Here's a little context to help explain Percy’s usage in the past, and what we can expect:
|Year||Targets/Game||Targets Overall Rank||Vikings Pass Attempts Rank|
This chart shows you that Harvin has been extremely lucrative even when his team hasn’t been what you would deem “pass-happy.” In 2011, the Vikings ranked 28th in drop backs, and Harvin averaged 7.7 targets per game, good for 18th in the league. Adding to the fact that he isn’t necessarily target dependent is that he finished 2011 as the eighth overall wide receiver in standard-scoring fantasy leagues.
The next season was similar in some ways, but not in others. As mentioned above, the Vikings supporting cast was not a highly-regarded bunch. The team relied heavily on Harvin and Adrian Peterson. Similarly, they ranked 24th in passing volume, but Percy’s beefed up 9.4 targets per game would have put him at eighth in the league had he played the full season. Harvin was all quarterback Christian Ponder really had in the passing game, and he knew it, feeding him as much as possible.
Chances are, what we’ll see in Seattle is somewhere in between. Harvin is not going to be used nearly as much as he was in 2012 for the Vikings, but Seattle knows who they were getting when they gave up three draft picks (including a first-rounder) to get him.
Other tidbits possibly working against Percy is that Hawks are 9-1 with a stout defense (ranked second in Total NEP) and allow just over 15 points per game.
Now and Later
If cleared for this Sunday, most believe that Harvin will play on a somewhat limited snap count versus the Vikings. I do believe that we should be cautious this week with him. If you've got a safe and reliable play at WR3, go with him instead. That said, if you have mediocre options, it can't hurt to plug him in against his old team. There's a reason he came back for this game, as the breakup with the Vikings wasn't pretty. You know he wants to give them the business a little bit.
After the bye in Week 12, Harvin and the Seahawks should see his snap restrictions lifted. Once they are, you're looking at a guy that should be, at minimum, a rock solid WR3 with the upside of a WR1 depending on how each game unfolds.
Take a look at the Seahawks' remaining schedule below to see how much potential he may have:
|Week||Opponent||Adj. Defense PNEP/Play||Adj. Defense PNEP/Play Rank|
On paper, Harvin only has two "plus" matchups remaining with the Vikings and the Rams ranking near the bottom of the league in Adjusted Defensive Passing Net Expected Points Per Play. However, a plus with these matchups is that the Seahawks shouldn't necessarily go up big, making Harvin relevant throughout the game.