Fantasy Football Fallout: Percy Harvin Traded to Seahawks
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Major wide receiver trades are becoming a recurring theme every offseason. 2010 saw Santonio Holmes dealt to the Jets and Brandon Marshall shipped to Miami. 2011 was quiet, but Marshall was on the move again last year, this time from the Dolphins to the Bears.
We've already seen two receivers change addresses this offseason. Anquan Boldin went from one Harbaugh to the other when he was dealt to San Fran.
Today's trade sending Percy Harvin to Seattle was the biggest blockbuster of them all. None of the others involved a first-round pick. According to Fox Sports' Jay Glazer, the Vikings received not only the Seahawks' 2013 first-rounder, but also a 2013 seventh-round pick and a 2014 mid-rounder.
The deal has sent ripple effects across the NFL. Seattle now boasts one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL with Harvin, Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Sidney Rice and Golden Tate. The 'Hawks might now be the favorite to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl, in spite of division rival San Francisco winning the conference last season.
The Vikings, meanwhile, are left with an empty cupboard at WR, which will surely affect their plans in draft and free agency. Look for them to snag a receiver with one of their two first-round picks this April.
Harvin's impending long-term deal with Seattle will also impact the wide receiver free-agent market. Guys like Mike Wallace, Wes Welker and Greg Jennings will attempt to use Harvin's salary as leverage.
Of course, the fantasy football impact of the trade is just as wide-ranging. Here's a look at the winners and losers.
Percy Harvin, wide receiver, Seahawks
The most interesting aspect of Harvin's trade to the Seahawks might be his reunion with offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. The pair worked together for Harvin's first two years in Minnesota before Bevell departed for Seattle.
That said, Harvin's production under Bevell wasn't earth-shattering: 131 catches, 790 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns, plus another 242 yards and a score on the ground. He's actually been better in the two years since. But we like the fact that Bevell has already worked with Harvin. He's a unique, electric talent who must be used correctly. Bevell likely learned plenty from the pair's first go-around.
Of course, the best part about Harvin's move to Seattle is the quarterback upgrade. Christian Ponder is only 25 years old and still might emerge as a quality signal-caller. But Russell Wilson is already better. He bested Ponder in completion percentage, yards per attempt and touchdowns this past year, all without Harvin.
On top of that, Percy will benefit from a much-improved supporting cast. Marshawn Lynch is no Adrian Peterson, but Seattle averaged just three fewer rushing yards per game than Minnesota last year. And Sidney Rice and Golden Tate are multiple notches above any wide receiver the Vikings had alongside Harvin. While he'll undoubtedly continue to be a focal point of opposing defenses, Harvin should have more room to operate in Seattle than he did in Minnesota.
Will Russell Wilson be a top-8 fantasy football QB in 2013?
Now, he might experience a dip in touches with the Seahawks. Harvin averaged 8.9 total receptions and rushes per game over the past two seasons. That lofty number will be tough to hit in Seattle considering all the other weapons on the field.
But Seattle gave up a boatload to acquire Harvin and will hand him a huge contract. They'll make sure they get some bang for their buck. All the other weapons should help Harvin improve his yards-per-touch average and touchdown production.
Simply put, it's difficult to imagine a move from that Vikings offense to this Seahawks offense being a bad thing for Harvin's fantasy value.
Russell Wilson, Quarterback, Seahawks
Wilson turned in a brilliant rookie campaign, doing so without a strong performance from go-to wide receiver Sidney Rice.
Rice had a good year. But he finished outside the top-40 wide receivers in both catches and receiving yards. Foot and knee issues rendered him pretty much useless down the stretch.
Golden Tate set new career highs across the board, but he was more of a big-play maker than a consistent weekly threat. Doug Baldwin and Zach Miller were just complementary pieces.
In Percy Harvin, Wilson now has a bona fide go-to receiver to work with. The biggest thing Harvin will bring to Seattle is run-after-catch ability. Tate led Seattle in YACs this past season. His 276, however, ranked just 37th league-wide. Harvin, on other hand, amassed 542 in the nine games he played last year. His 8.7 yards-after-catch average led the league. Thanks to Harvin's electric ability, a few plays that would have gone for short gains to, say, Baldwin, will go for long touchdowns from Wilson to Harvin in 2013.
Harvin's arrival also figures to accelerate the increase in Wilson's workload. His 393 pass attempts last year ranked 26th in the league. Only three times did he exceed 30 passes. Expect 30-plus outings to become the norm in 2013. That will more than make up for any rushing production Harvin steals. Wilson will continue to be a threat on the ground.
The addition of Harvin will give Wilson's passing numbers a significant boost.
Kyle Rudolph, Tight End, Vikings
Rudolph might be the biggest winner here. And the argument isn't complicated. Just look at his splits this past season with and without Harvin. In the nine games Harvin played, Rudolph averaged 5.4 targets, three catches and 27 yards per game. He did score five times in those contests, but still averaged a mediocre six fantasy points per game.
With Harvin out for the final seven games, though, Rudolph's numbers got a healthy boost. He saw 6.3 targets per game and averaged 3.7 catches and 36 yards. With four scores in those outings, Rudolph averaged seven fantasy points per game. Only nine tight ends were better over that span.
The loss of Harvin will certainly mean more defensive attention on Rudolph. And his scoring chances figure to take a hit with one of the game's best playmakers gone. But Rudolph now looks like the focal point of Minnesota's passing attack. And if last year is any indication, the increase in targets will more than make up for any hit from the loss of Harvin.
Jarius Wright, Wide Receiver, Vikings
We'll have to see if Minnesota brings in a slot wide receiver like Danny Amendola or rookie Tavon Austin. But for now, Wright is slated to step into Harvin's role.
Last year's fourth-round pick was a non-factor for the majority of his rookie season. He didn't step on the field in the team's first nine games. But Wright made his debut in week ten with Harvin sidelined by an ankle injury. Operating in Harvin's slot role, the Arkansas product reeled in three balls for 65 yards and a touchdown. The highlight was a 54-yard reception that took Minnesota down to the one-yard line. Wright scored on a quick-out a few plays later. The rookie came back after the bye and went for seven catches and 49 yards. He had a five-catch outing in Week 16, then posted a 3-90-1 line in the season finale. That one included a 65-yard reception -- the Vikings' longest pass play of the year. Wright finished with a 14.1 yards-per-catch average that bests any mark Harvin has ever posted.
It's obviously a small sample size -- and we're not saying Wright is even in the same stratosphere as Harvin -- but there's definitely playmaking ability here. If he enters 2013 as the Vikings' slot receiver, Wright will carry some sleeper appeal in fantasy drafts.
Christian Ponder, Quarterback, Vikings
Your Minnesota Vikings now officially boast, far and away, the NFL's worst wide receiver corps. Harvin is gone. Jerome Simpson is a free agent. Even the recently-released Michael Jenkins would look good on the depth chart now.
But as it stands, Jarius Wright, Greg Childs and Stephen Burton are their top-three guys. They've combined for 29 catches and three touchdowns at the NFL level.
It's safe to say the Vikings will add to the position this offseason. They reportedly tried to acquire Anquan Boldin before the 49ers got the deal done. It might be tough to convince a top-tier free agent to sign on the dotted line. It's never smart to bet on a rookie to make a major year one impact.
The point is that Ponder won't have much help in 2013. And he doesn't have the skill set to elevate those around him. Expect a lot of handing off to Adrian Peterson.
Ponder wasn't looking like much of a fantasy factor this season before the Harvin trade. He's definitely not now.
Doug Baldwin, Wide Receiver, Seahawks
We could list Sidney Rice and Golden Tate here too. Harvin will demand tons of targets in Seattle, taking a huge chunk out of the looks that would have otherwise gone to previous teammates. However, the overall pie won't grow too much. The Seahawks will still run it plenty.
That all equals fewer opportunities for Rice and Tate. But Baldwin is the biggest loser here. As Seattle's slot receiver, he was on the field for 51 percent of the offensive snaps this past season. That number will drop significantly in 2013.
The 'Hawks figure to go with Harvin and Rice in two-wide receiver sets. Harvin will slip inside when they go three-wide, with Golden Tate joining Rice outside the numbers. Baldwin will only see action when Seattle puts four wide receivers on the field. According to Pro Football Focus, that happened just 5.1 percent of the time last year. That number might grow a bit this season, but not nearly enough to make Baldwin a fantasy factor.
He's an underrated slot receiver, though, so we could see another team make a trade offer for him.
There's one big name missing from this list: Adrian Peterson. That's because the Harvin trade looks like a wash for AP's fantasy outlook.
Conventional wisdom would say the loss of such a dynamic weapon would hurt Peterson's production. He'll face even more eight and nine-man fronts than he had been. Harvin's departure also figures to make moving the ball tougher for Minnesota, meaning fewer scoring opportunities for AP.
As we have seen, though, conventional wisdom doesn't apply to Peterson. In fact, Peterson was better without Harvin than with him in 2012. With Harvin in the lineup for the first nine games, Peterson carried 168 times for 957 yards (5.7 yards per carry) and six touchdowns. He added 26 catches and 150 receiving yards to rank third among running backs in fantasy points over that span.
But with Harvin out for the final seven, AP ripped off 1,140 yards and six scores on 181 carries, good for a stupefying 6.3 yards per rush. He tossed in 67 yards and another touchdown in the passing game, leading all running backs in fantasy points during that stretch.
Those numbers would suggest Peterson is better off with Harvin out of the lineup. We're not necessarily buying that. It's a small sample size, hardly representative of how his absence might play out over an entire season. And Harvin's inability to see the field wasn't the only reason AP was better in the second half of the season. He was also further removed from that shredded knee.
To suggest the loss of Harvin will help Peterson seems short-sighted. AP has also proven capable of producing regardless. Consider his stock unaffected. He should still be the first player taken in fantasy drafts this summer.
Marshawn Lynch also falls in the "wash" column. He probably won't see the 19.7 carries he averaged per game last season, but Harvin's presence also figures to open up more running room and lead to more scoring opportunities.
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