Will Percy Harvin Put It All Together This Season?

After last Thursday's opener, Harvin has the fantasy world foaming at the mouth once again.

Despite not reaching the end zone and playing a limited number of snaps, Percy Harvin put on a show nothing short of electric in the Seahawks' 2014 season opener. Whether it was blowing by the opposition with his stunning speed, or somehow keeping his feet churning while seemingly falling forward, Harvin showed everyone why he's regarded as one of the NFL’s most dynamic playmakers before his young career was put on hold due to a series of injuries.

What probably has most fantasy owners who drafted him in the fifth round licking their chops is the way Harvin was utilized during the game, which was reminiscent of his Viking days under the same offensive coordinator he has in Seattle, Darrell Bevell. During their game with the Packers, the Seahawks used smart play-calling designed to put the ball in his hands with jet sweeps out of the backfield and quick bubble screens designed to showcase his gazelle-like athleticism and speed en route to 100 yards of total offense on just eleven touches (all while being on the field for only 55 percent of Seattle’s offensive snaps).

The only questions nagging his fantasy owners before the season started was whether or not he could stay healthy, and if his workload would be enough to warrant his draft price. While neither of these questions can be fully put to rest after one week of football, there’s definitely a lot to be optimistic about if you bought Percy stock before the season started.

Harvin By the Numbers

To give us a better idea as to what more we can expect from Harvin this year, it might be good for us to look at his total Net Expected Points (NEP) from his days as a Viking:

YearGamesTotal NEP16 Game NEP
20091586.68 (20th)92.46(18th)
20101475.44 (27th)86.22 (15th)
20111687.96 (19th)87.96 (19th)
2012959.71 (47th)106.15 (14th)

As demonstrated in the table above, when he does play, Harvin is a top-20 wide receiver in terms of overall efficiency. His NEP of 5.61 from his Week 1 game extrapolates to 89.76 over the course of a 16-game season - a number very much in line with his stats from previous seasons. Additionally, from a fantasy points perspective, he ranked 20th, 7th, and 6th in his 2010-2012 seasons in non-PPR scoring, and he was on-pace to finish third overall in his 2012 season cut short by injury. It should also be noted that Harvin put up those numbers while playing on a bottom-five passing offense with, at best, speculative play from his quarterbacks.

But Isn't He Injury-Prone?

The answer to that question is: sort of. To date, Harvin has finished inside the top 10 in fantasy football only once in his career - in 2011, when he garnered 967 receiving yards, 345 rushing yards, and nine total touchdowns. This was also the only full 16-game season in his career, hence why he’s often been tagged with the label of being injury-prone.

He's missed time for varying ailments through his careers in college and the NFL, which is probably the biggest drawback drafters had to consider when spending a fourth- or fifth-round pick on Harvin. Yes, he’s electric when he’s on the field, but how often will that be?

There are two things to be optimistic about on that front: firstly, Harvin himself has said that the ankle and hip ailments he previously suffered from are now in the rear-view mirror. Secondly, we should also consider that, if we exclude his since-cured problems with migraines, Harvin played 56 consecutive games in the NFL before missing extended time in 2012 and 2013. So perhaps the moniker of injury-prone isn’t an entirely accurate one (although that’s not to say that one should dismiss the concerns altogether).

What About His Usage?

The other worry I detailed was Harvin’s usage in Seattle’s offense - a concern that was mostly put to bed in the opener, as it became apparent fairly quickly that the Seahawks have every intention of generating touches for their Swiss army knife of a football player. Yes, he was only on the field for 55 percent of Seattle’s snaps, but this was primarily due to game script, as the Seahawks didn’t require Harvin’s skills once the game was in hand.

And although Seattle’s offense isn’t necessarily geared towards the pass, it still generated almost 900 yards and 64 receptions for Golden Tate last year. Throw in Harvin’s usage as a runner, kick returner, and all-around offensive weapon (and the fact that Tate isn’t the talent that Harvin is), and you’ve got the blueprint in place for a fantasy goldmine.

The Verdict

On a personal level, I hope he stays healthy simply for the fact that he's one of the most fun and exciting players to watch whenever he's got the football in his hands, and I know I'm not alone in that thinking. From a fantasy perspective, Harvin was drafted as the 18th wide receiver off the board in a lot of leagues. If he plays all 16 games this year (which certainly can’t be guaranteed), he has a very realistic shot at cracking the top 10 at the wide receiver position for his owners.

Just be prepared to hold your breath every time he gets hit.