I’ll be honest here and say that I’m pretty terrified to say anything bad about the the Seahawks personnel moves given that they’ve been ridiculous at pulling rabbits out of hats.
However, I have nothing if not hubris, so let me offer a quick reason why I don’t like the trade – I don’t think Percy Harvin is different enough from Golden Tate to really make this a real plus for the Seahawks. I’ll now pause while the “Counting Stats” crowd gets furious.
Harvin is a guy almost like a Joe Johnson in basketball, or maybe even a Rudy Gay, who has earned his reputation on touches, not because he’s done so much with those touches (as a receiver anyway, his ability to fill in as an RB is probably worth something although I’m not sure how much). I know Harvin was 1st in the NFL last year in YAC, but I must have missed the part of the league rules that awards points for YAC.
Here are the players’ tables taken from the WR Similarity Score app:
Note that Tate had a higher TD rate on fewer targets per game. Tate’s FPOP (a fantasy efficiency measure that is essentially FP/TGT after you adjust for field position and league average) was a lot better than Harvin’s. The big difference was how much each of their teams threw them the ball. Maybe Tate wasn’t getting open enough to get the ball as much as Harvin? Well the Seahawks could have thrown him the ball anyway, given up all of the efficiency that Tate racked up, and would have essentially been doing exactly what the Vikings did with Harvin. The Vikes threw him the ball just to get it in his hands. It worked out really well for Harvin’s fantasy owners, but didn’t really put any points on the board for the Vikings. Critics of this idea might say that I am only looking at my myopic fantasy efficiency measure. Well Advanced NFL Stats agrees with me. They have Tate as having put up more EPA than Harvin did on a per play basis and in aggregate. Basically, even though he saw the ball fewer total times than Harvin did (less targets on the season even though Harvin missed time), Tate accounted for more EPA and WPA per Advanced NFL Stats.
The next objection that I can anticipate will be related to each player’s QB situation. It’s true that Christian Ponder probably stinks, but it’s also true that quality receivers also have a responsibility to raise the play of their QB. This is one reason that I am not in the camp with the Larry Fitzgerald apologists. Fitz’s play has been pretty perfectly correlated with the quality of his QB, while Megatron on the other hand has produced no matter who his QB is.
I have two thoughts though that keep me from saying that this isn’t a good trade for SEA. First, it doesn’t appear that they gave up much in the way of draft picks. They pretty much gave up about what MIN used to pick Harvin when he was a totally unproven prospect. So then it’s a salary issue and the Seahawks have made enough killer moves in the draft to have a little more cap flexibility. Maybe an addition to these two points would be related to Harvin’s ability to also carry the ball out of the back field, although that benefit seems marginal at best.
From a fantasy standpoint, this is obviously a huge plus for Russell Wilson if for no other reason than it signals that the Seahawks are intent on continuing to evolve from the run heavy offense that they featured to start last year. The thing I’ll be most interested in seeing around fantasy draft season is what the Seahawks look like in terms of having a red zone threat. I don’t think Harvin or Tate are really going to be dominant in the red zone, so maybe that guy is tight end Anthony McCoy, who has looked good at times.