Welcome to another installment of “Over/Under” where I highlight a player, determine some projections based on past tendencies, then state whether I think they will go “over or under” those projections. The criteria will be different for each player based on position and situation.
This week’s debate will focus on Percy Harvin of the Seattle Seahawks. We will put the betting line at 80 catches, 1,050 yards and six receiving touchdowns.
On March 11, the Seahawks acquired Harvin from the Minnesota Vikings for a package of draft picks. It’s pretty rare in the NFL for a team to trade one of its most dynamic playmakers while still in their prime, but Minnesota was apparently tired of the headaches (and I’m not talking about Percy’s migraines). It was well known Harvin was not a fan of Vikings starting quarterback Christian Ponder, so the organization had a decision to make. Who do we stick with and who could net us the biggest package in return? It was very obvious trading Harvin would bring back the best value and letting players give ultimatums rarely turn out well for a franchise’s front office. Once he was made available for trade, Seattle wasted no time in their efforts to bring Harvin to Seattle to pair him with the similarly explosive Russell Wilson at quarterback.
Since entering the league in 2009, Harvin has been one of the most dynamic playmakers in the entire league. Playing multiple positions and attacking from all over the field, he is a threat to literally score from anywhere on the field. He does most of his damage from the slot, but also lines up at running back and in the wildcat package as a quarterback. As he has become more important as an offensive centerpiece, the Vikings started pulling his kick returning duties back. He’s also one of the league’s top return men. Here are his impressive stats:
As you can see, he’s improved each year he’s been in the league. Before going down with a ligament tear in his left ankle, he was being talked about as a potential MVP candidate. Even though Adrian Peterson would eventually turn in a season for the ages, it was Harvin who was the most valuable player to the Vikings’ early season success. He was well on his way to career highs across the board as a receiver. In just over eight games, he amassed 62 catches for 677 yards and three touchdowns. If you leave out the week nine game where he injured his ankle early and extrapolated his stats over the entire season, he would have finished with 120 catches, 1,334 yards and six touchdowns receiving – that would have been good enough for 289.4 fantasy points in PPR leagues, which would have tied him with Wes Welker for the WR7 – that’s also without adding in the benefit of his rushing or kick return statistics.
Now he gets the upgrade from Ponder to Wilson. It’s no secret Russell Wilson is the much better quarterback – he’s much more efficient in fewer opportunities and protects the ball much better than Ponder. When you look at their season stats, you can see some similarities. They are both a threat to run the ball and both are effective getting the ball into their receivers’ hands with solid completion percentages. That’s about where the similarities end, Wilson is a much better deep thrower than Ponder and a lot more willing to throw downfield. Ponder has become more of a check down passer, heavily targeting running backs and tight ends. Some of that could be due to the inferior personnel he had to throw to. The Vikings’ wide receivers were a joke after Harvin went down.
The biggest question for Harvin owners now is how this trade changes his fantasy outlook. From what I gather on Twitter and in our own forums, people expect Harvin to pick up right where he left off and remain a sure fire WR1 in dynasty leagues simply because Russell Wilson is being drafted as a QB1. Over the final eight games of last season, Wilson finished as the QB2, behind only Cam Newton.
Even though Wilson was a great fantasy and NFL quarterback to end last season, he failed to support consistent fantasy receivers. He has yet to record his first 300 yard game as a pro (though he did have 385 in the playoffs) and only attempted 30+ passes in a game twice, neither of which were in the second half of the season when things clicked. The truth is Harvin now plays on a team even more run heavy than the one he left. The Seahawks led the league in rushing attempts with 536 carries and were dead last in pass attempts with 405 – that means they ran the ball 57% of the time. When you have the fourth ranked defense in yards allowed and the third highest producing ground game in the NFL, there isn’t a whole lot of reason to take unwarranted risks through the air. Even though Wilson remains a great bet to produce QB1 numbers, this offense is going to run through Marshawn Lynch and the ground game first.
For that reason alone, I am taking the under.
I think the receptions and touchdowns will be the more attainable numbers, but I don’t believe this offense will produce enough opportunities for any wide receiver to approach 1,100 yards. Playing with Sidney Rice and Golden Tate will help draw attention from Harvin, but there will be too many games the Seahawks get into “clock killing” mode early in the second half and the passing game dries up.
According to Ryan McDowell’s ADP tracking, Harvin is currently being drafted as the WR7 in dynasty start ups with an ADP of 19 overall, between Brandon Marshall and Randall Cobb. It’s where he belongs, but it makes me nervous. I believe there is enough evidence to show he is in for a statistical regression and we’re remaining blindly faithful due to our love affair with Wilson. He could very easily catch 90 balls for 1,100 yards and eight touchdowns this year, but I think he has just as good of a chance to catch 75 balls for 900 yards and five touchdowns. I believe he’ll finish somewhere in the middle of this range and I’ll draft him accordingly, but I’m a little more cautious than I was when he was in Minnesota. In fantasy football, garbage time is your closest friend and in Seattle he’s going to see a lot less of it.
What do you think? Are you taking the “Over or Under” on Percy Harvin having 80 catches, 1,050 yards and six receiving touchdowns as a first year Seahawk? Let me know in the comments section below.
Eric is on Twitter @OlingerIDP.