If you want to know why Percy Harvin is so coveted in NFL circles, you only need to watch one play.
The fearless Harvin is one of the few players that can make lemonade out of lemons, using video-game jukes and quicks to turn small gains into chunk plays. There isn’t a single guy in the league that’s better with the ball in his hands. Last season, Harvin ranked third in total yards after catch (YAC) – even though he only played in nine games. He averaged 8.9 YAC. For comparison’s sake, Sidney Rice was at 3.4 YAC and Golden Tate got 6.1.
It’s easy to say Harvin won’t be as productive statistically in Seattle because they have a better team than Minnesota. Don’t buy it. Within the next 48 hours, Harvin is going to get something just short of Calvin Johnson/Larry Fitzgerald kind of money. The Seahawks also gave up a first-round pick in the deal. The coaching staff is going to make him a focal point.
Remember that current Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell was the Vikings’ OC for Harvin’s first two NFL seasons. Playing part-time as a rookie, Harvin averaged 6.06 targets per game and added 15 rushes. In 2010, he saw 7.78 targets and got 18 carries.
We know Bevell likes Harvin, but it’s fair to use the term “love” when we’re talking about head coach Pete Carroll. When Harvin was coming out of Landstown high school in Virginia, he only took two visits: Florida and Carroll’s USC. And in October of his year, Carroll had this to say on Harvin:
“He’s so good you just have to showcase him. … He’s a fantastic player. He was arguably the best player in America coming out of high school. So the fact that he’s playing with all the top guys and his numbers are on top of the league, that’s fitting.”
Expect Harvin to line up with Sidney Rice in all two-wide sets. When the Seahawks go three-wide, it will be Rice and Golden Tate on the outside with Harvin working the slot. He’ll be involved in the screen game and even get a few runs. It’s safe to project Harvin as a top-15 fantasy wideout once again.
The rest of the fallout:
* Give Russell Wilson a major bump: As a rookie, Wilson was mostly asked to manage Seattle’s run-heavy scheme. His 393 pass attempts ranked 26th in the league and he threw for less than 200 yards in 10 of 18 games. Wilson still finished 11th among fantasy quarterbacks thanks to his 489 rushing yards, four rushing touchdowns and 26 passing scores.
In Year 2, much more will be put on Wilson’s shoulders. The acquisition of Harvin will give him a playmaker that can turn a bubble screen into a 50-yard score. We can safely bet on a top-10 fantasy finish, further adding to the amazing depth at the quarterback position.
* Downgrade Sidney Rice and Golden Tate: There’s a new big dog in town that’s going to eat up targets. Rice has a better chance at sustaining production thanks to his unique size and red-zone ability. Over the last two seasons, 10.9 percent of Rice’s catches have gone for touchdowns. Tate becomes one of the more talented No. 3 receivers in the league.
* Upgrade Adrian Peterson: Intuitively, losing Harvin is bad news for fantasy’s clear No. 1 overall player. But Peterson doesn’t care about your silly eight-man boxes. Note that Harvin was lost for the year in Week 9:
Peterson first eight games of 2012: 151 rushes, 775 yards, 5.1 yards per carry, four touchdowns
Peterson final eight games of 2012: 197 rushes, 1322 yards, 6.7 yards per carry, eight touchdowns
* Downgrade Marshawn Lynch slightly: Last season, Lynch received 315 carries, good for fifth in the league. As mentioned above, Wilson will get a chance to spread his wings more -- especially with the arrival of Harvin. But Lynch is still just 27 (in April) and appears to be entering his prime. He'll hover around 300 carries again, meaning Dynasty owners have little to worry about.