Somewhere Russell Wilson is smiling … not his usual understated, affable expression, but a big (expletive)-eating, ear-to-ear grin.
Seattle has just handed him one of the most dynamic and versatile offensive weapons in the league in trading draft picks (including this year's No. 25 overall pick) for wide receiver Percy Harvin. Over the past two seasons, Harvin has ranked No. 10 among wideouts in fantasy points per game. He's scored a receiving touchdown, a rushing touchdown and a return touchdown in each of the past three seasons. Wilson is one of the most versatile quarterbacks in the league. Harvin is one of the most versatile receivers in the league. Put those two together, along with one of the league's best running games, and we're talking about a nightmare offense for opposing defenses to game plan against.
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Sure, Harvin brings some baggage to Seattle given his contentious relationship with Minnesota over the years and the fact that injuries have dogged him, be it migraines or an ankle injury like the one that knocked him out of the second half of last season. But nobody that's watched Harvin on the field can question the effort he gives – despite missing seven games last season, he led all receivers in missed tackles (22) and was fifth in yards after contact. Between receptions, returns and rushes last season, Harvin was a workhorse that touched the ball 100 times in nine games, an average of 11.1 per game.
The prevailing thought is that the Seahawks, last in the NFL in pass attempts in '12, will open up the offense now that Wilson has the utmost trust of his coaches. Head coach Pete Carroll had already stated that that was going to be the case even before the Harvin deal. Bringing in Harvin allows Seattle to follow through on that vow in a quick-hitting manner - given Harvin's skills in the short passing game – that keeps Wilson out of harm's way, for the most part.
The end result should be that Harvin remains at least as effective as he was in Minnesota. You could probably spin things in a slightly positive (better offense, more competent QB) or slightly negative (more competition for touches) way for Harvin's fantasy value. But, no matter how you slice it, he almost certainly has to be deemed as no worse than a top 10-15 wide receiver for fantasy purposes in '13 drafts. But the big winner in Seattle is Wilson, who goes from the top 10 bubble among fantasy QBs to someone that can be argued among the upper half of the QB1 crowd.
In our QB Exit Interview back in late December, the Yahoo! Fantasy experts were asked to rank their top 13 fantasy quarterbacks for the upcoming '13 season. Wilson landed at No. 12, 7, 9, 9 and 9 among the five experts, respectively. In a quick polling of those same experts after the Harvin deal, Wilson now ranks No. 8, 5, 6, 6 and 7, among the Y! experts. So, clearly, bullish feelings abound for this Wilson/Harvin arrangement.
For a short while after the Harvin deal, it looked like Wilson had a trump card to play on division-rival QB Colin Kaepernick, as both Wilson and Kaepernick are often considered in the same fantasy value ballpark heading into '13. And in what is clearly shaping up to be one of the league's most contentious rivalries for the next few years, the 49ers answered the Harvin salvo by making a deal for Anquan Boldin, a proven veteran receiver who was an absolute stud for Baltimore down the stretch of '12 and throughout the postseason. The move won't do much for Boldin's value – in fact, with Jim Caldwell calling the shots for the Ravens offense, Boldin probably would have fared better if he remained in Baltimore. But it does give Kaepernick another proven weapon, and now we're back to a coin flip when it comes to determining whether Wilson or Kaepernick is the better fantasy option for the immediate future.
As for the Vikings, this deal leaves the receiving cupboard extremely bare for the moment. Of course, the same was true when Harvin went out with the ankle injury in Week 9. Minnesota went 5-2 in the final seven weeks of the regular season despite only one receiver topping 65 receiving yards from Weeks 10-17. Of course, the Vikings had to lean on All-Day Adrian Peterson to the tune of nearly 26 carries per game in that stretch to compensate for the lack of a passing attack. That's not an ideal arrangement given Peterson's caution-to-the-wind running style and the fact that he's not far removed from major knee surgery. It wouldn't be a surprise if Minnesota made a quick push for Mike Wallace, rumored to be all but a done deal to Miami, or Greg Jennings. And it certainly will look for help in the draft, as well, given that it has four picks among the top 83 selections. But with Christian Ponder, who ProFootballFocus.com graded out as throwing the worst deep ball (attempt of 20-plus yards) in the league in '13, behind center, whichever receiver does land in Minnesota to backfill for Harvin should be downgraded on your fantasy cheat sheet.