Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Golden Tate and every other fantasy weapon on the Seattle Seahawks are about to see their role altered to some degree with the approaching season debut of wide receiver Percy Harvin.
Sitting at 9-1, the Seahawks have already proven themselves as one of the NFL's elite teams. That standing will only be entrenched with the addition of Harvin to the lineup, and all signs point to the explosive weapon playing this week against his former team, the Minnesota Vikings:
While it doesn't take much inspection to realize that Harvin's open-field playmaking ability will make the Seahawks' offense more potent, it does take a little deeper digging to project how the 25-year-old will fit into the offense.
He has never played a down as a Seahawk, but after Seattle sent the 25th overall selection in the 2013 draft, a seventh-round pick in 2013 and a third-round pick in 2014 to acquire Harvin, we can be confident he will have a big role on the team.
Of course, the $67 million deal that included $14.5 million fully guaranteed also tells us the Seahawks have a grand vision for Harvin.
So, let's start off by looking at how the Seahawks may use Harvin, and then we'll discuss his impact on his teammates.
Harvin's Role and Fantasy Potential in Seattle
Let me just start by saying this: I advise starting Harvin this week and every following week—as long as he actually plays, obviously.
Have a look at the Seahawks' remaining schedule.
|Week||Opponent||Pass Defense Rank|
|Week 14||at 49ers||9|
|Week 15||at Giants||11|
As you can see, there are a few strong pass defenses on that list, but on the whole, it is far from anything to scare off fantasy owners from Seattle's options.
The Vikings are awful and rank 29th in pass defense. To make this matchup even tastier, Harvin will have added incentive to play well and will be looking to show Minnesota it made a mistake by letting him go.
Also, after Harvin was cautious and sought a second opinion on his injury this offseason, which led to him electing to have hip surgery, there is not much concern of him returning to the field before his body is ready.
With the Vikings last year, Harvin played in nine games, catching 62 passes for 677 yards and three touchdowns. He also added 22 carries for 96 yards and a touchdown while remaining dynamic on kickoff returns and scoring another touchdown there.
That averages out to 75.2 receiving yards a game, 10.7 rushing yards per game and .56 touchdowns per game.
While I would be surprised if the Seahawks used Harvin on kickoffs, I would expect similar production from him for the remainder of this season.
As for his role, let's just get something straight: The Seahawks did not use the resources they did to have Harvin take a back seat to anyone on this offense or to not try to get the maximum out of his ability.
Harvin should get the majority of his snaps out of the slot. Last season, he ran 156 of 261 routes from the inside spot, according to ESPN's Christopher Harris.
Along with his work as a receiver, I expect him to continue to have a small role in the running game.
With the rushing ability of quarterback Russell Wilson and the power of running back Marshawn Lynch, the Seahawks will be able to run some interesting read options or just motion handoffs to spread out opposing defenses.
So, Harvin will have a diverse and productive role in this offense. Now, let's take a look at how this will affect those around him.
Harvin's Impact on His Teammates
Here are the key stats of the fantasy players on the Seahawks worth looking at:
|Player||Rush Yards||Rush TDs||Receptions||Receiving Yards||Receiving TDs||Passing Yards||Passing TDs|
Of this group, Wilson will benefit the most.
Harvin will give Wilson a target that can turn a screen pass into an 80-yard touchdown. He will also occupy the defense's attention, which will help Wilson find other open targets.
This is going to increase Wilson's already solid standing as a fantasy quarterback.
With an offensive line that has struggled to protect him and a less-than-elite receiving corps, Wilson's passing yards have been inconsistent.
He's thrown for less than 220 yards in six of 10 games. However, he has thrown for at least two touchdowns in each of his past four games to keep fantasy owners happy.
The Seahawks will remain a physical team that features a heavy dose of the run. So, Wilson isn't going to turn into a candidate to consistently produce 300-yard passing efforts, but his passing yardage will get a boost, and with Harvin's explosiveness, Wilson's potential for a big game will be significantly higher.
Meanwhile, Harvin's presence should not alter Wilson's rushing totals.
In other words, Wilson's standing as a solid fantasy option has only increased.
Lynch is an elite fantasy option, and that should not change—although, there is reason for concern.
Teams can become enamored with the pass and flashy weapons. Let's say the Seahawks post 50 points on the Vikings as Harvin runs wild all over the field. Coach Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Darell Bevell will be tempted to flex their new muscle in the passing game and change the dynamic of a team that is 24th in passing yards and second in rushing yards.
However, Carroll has been around this game a long time. I wouldn't expect him to make changes in the identity of this successful team, especially not when Lynch is on fire.
Lynch has posted his two most productive rushing games of the season the past two games by rushing for at least 125 yards in each. He does have just one touchdown in those two, but scores always seem to come in spurts for running backs.
Harvin's threat as a runner won't cut into Lynch's touches, and his ability to help the Seahawks open up sizable leads will equate to an even heavier dose of the run game late in games.
Also, simply running Harvin in motion to the backfield will help open up lanes on the inside for Lynch.
Lynch must remain in starting lineups.
Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin
This group is a little harder to project, and it is especially bothersome for Baldwin. The 25-year-old is coming off his most productive two-game stretch of the season. During that span, he's combined for 11 catches, 151 yards and a touchdown. He did so off of 18 targets.
Baldwin is only owned in 3.7 percent of NFL.com leagues, but with those numbers, there is reason for owners to consider adding him. However, I would hold off on that move now.
While Harvin will spend most of his time in the slot, he will likely get some reps on the outside—the Seahawks aren't going to leave him off the field on every snap with two receivers.
Baldwin will be the odd man out in this instance, and I expect his targets to drop off from his recent pace.
Meanwhile, Tate has been coming on strong as of late. He has 14 catches for 228 yards and three touchdowns in his last three games, and he's been the favorite option of Wilson this season with 63 targets.
Harvin will cut into those targets, but not drastically. In the last two games, Tate has been targeted 10 times. He's caught nine of those. That kind of efficiency will not be ignored.
Wilson and Tate have a nice chemistry, and Tate will continue to be a viable fantasy option. He should be considered for starting duty on a weekly basis depending on the matchup and his fantasy teammates.