How to Think About Percy Harvin to SEA (Part IV): The Wrap-up


For the previous installments in this series, see here and here and here.

Sometimes I have a tendency to become overly convinced of my own point, which probably isn’t the best thing in the world from an analytical standpoint. For that reason I decided to consult the Fantasy Pros composite projections in order to see what they forecast for Percy Harvin. Here’s the table showing their projections, along with rows added for ranks based on standard and PPR scoring.

Calvin Johnson (DET, WR) 0.70 5.00 102.30 1,611.70 10.70 2.00 221.70 324.00 1 1
A.J. Green (CIN, WR) 2.70 35.00 93.00 1,335.70 10.30 2.00 195.10 288.10 2 3
Dez Bryant (DAL, WR) 1.30 7.30 92.70 1,338.30 10.70 2.00 194.60 287.30 3 4
Brandon Marshall (CHI, WR) 0.30 1.00 104.70 1,364.70 9.00 2.00 186.60 291.30 4 2
Julio Jones (ATL, WR) 4.30 49.00 81.00 1,239.30 9.30 1.00 182.80 263.80 5 8
Demaryius Thomas (DEN, WR) 83.70 1,237.00 10.30 2.00 181.70 265.40 6 7
Roddy White (ATL, WR) 94.30 1,306.70 8.00 1.00 176.70 271.00 7 5
Andre Johnson (HOU, WR) 95.70 1,333.70 6.30 171.40 267.10 8 6
Vincent Jackson (TB, WR) 70.70 1,254.30 7.70 1.00 169.40 240.10 9 14
Randall Cobb (GB, WR) 8.70 113.00 0.30 88.70 1,078.30 8.00 1.00 167.10 255.80 10 9
Larry Fitzgerald (ARI, WR) 86.30 1,231.70 7.00 165.20 251.50 11 11
Percy Harvin (SEA, WR) 21.70 159.30 0.70 91.70 1,006.30 7.30 1.00 162.60 254.30 12 10
Victor Cruz (NYG, WR) 84.00 1,125.30 8.70 1.00 162.50 246.50 13 13
Marques Colston (NO, WR) 77.30 1,068.70 8.30 1.00 154.90 232.20 14 15
Reggie Wayne (IND, WR) 93.00 1,208.00 6.00 1.00 154.80 247.80 15 12
Mike Wallace (MIA, WR) 1.70 30.70 71.70 1,098.00 7.00 1.00 152.90 224.60 16 17
Jordy Nelson (GB, WR) 73.00 1,042.70 8.00 152.30 225.30 17 16

According to Fantasy Pros (which includes the projections of the ever diligent Mike Clay) Harvin’s mean outcome would be WR12 in standard scoring and WR10 in PPR scoring. Harvin is going off of draft boards somewhere around WR7 or WR8, so that doesn’t seem like the end of the world does it? If you’re looking at this from a Percy Harvin-centric standpoint it isn’t the end of the world. Maybe you know something the Fantasy Pros composites don’t know and you think that Harvin will end up at WR7 or higher. That’s totally reasonable.

But I prefer to think about these things from the standpoint of “If A is true, then B is also probably true, and yet people are under-rating the possibility that B could happen.” In this case I think the B is Sidney Rice having a good fantasy season.

To go through the math, let’s start with the idea that Harvin’s targets will likely be pegged to SEA’s pass attempts. Below is a table which shows what Harvin’s targets would likely be in a number of different scenarios for SEA pass attempts. It also shows the needed FP/target to get to WR8 based on the table above (and assuming standard scoring). Note also that I’ve calculated this by giving Harvin credit for all of the rushing fantasy points that Fantasy Pros forecasts for him.

Team Attempts WR1 Targets FP/t Needed to Get to WR8
375 94.00 1.61
400 100.20 1.51
425 106.40 1.42
450 112.50 1.34
475 118.70 1.27
500 124.90 1.21
525 131.00 1.15
550 137.20 1.10
575 143.40 1.05
600 149.50 1.01
625 155.70 0.97
650 161.90 0.93
675 168.00 0.90
700 174.20 0.87
725 180.40 0.84

I don’t think WR8 becomes realistic until you get into the 120-130 target range. At 100 targets, Harvin would need to score fantasy points at a Dez Bryant pace. I just don’t think you should bank on an undersized receiver like Harvin scoring fantasy points at a clip equal to one of the most efficient and dominant (when the ball is in the air headed in his direction) receivers in the NFL, while also being his team’s #1 receiver. That 1.5 FP/t clip would be 1.5X the rate that he scored fantasy points last year in Minnesota. I’m totally willing to give Harvin a bump for getting a better QB, but I think a more likely outcome is somewhere in the 125 targets, 1.2 FP/t range. That would be a healthy increase in FP/t over his rate in MIN last year.

But remember that’s just the math needed to get your investment in Harvin at WR8 back. There’s no positive return on your investment there. It’s getting what you paid for.

But consider that Sidney Rice finished 2012 as WR33 and did that with just 82 targets on the season. It’s actually kind of interesting to look at Harvin and Rice’s 2012 output in the same table. Rice played in more games, but they had about the same number of targets on the season.

Name Targets Catches CR Yards TDs
Percy Harvin 85 62 72.90% 677 3
Sidney Rice 82 50 61.00% 748 7

Now let’s throw WR2 targets on the same table that we used to look at scenarios for Percy Harvin’s usage. This table is based on NFL averages for the targets that WR1 and WR2 see based on team passing attempts:

Team Attempts WR1 Targets WR2 Targets
375 94 63.5
400 100.2 69
425 106.4 74.4
450 112.5 79.9
475 118.7 85.4
500 124.9 90.8
525 131 96.3
550 137.2 101.8
575 143.4 107.2
600 149.5 112.7
625 155.7 118.2
650 161.9 123.6
675 168 129.1
700 174.2 134.6
725 180.4 140.1

Remember that it’s probably going to require 120-130 targets for Harvin owners to get their investment back. That probably means about 500 or so passing attempts for SEA. But if SEA puts the ball up 500 times, the mean expectation would be 90 targets for Sidney Rice, who is currently being drafted as WR48.

Here’s why this is an interesting strategy to me:

  • Percy Harvin could very well finish as WR8 or potentially even higher. Nothing I’ve written should be be construed as saying I don’t think it’s possible. It could very well happen.
  • But Percy Harvin also has downside. Darrell Bevel has been a run heavy play caller in the past and the SEA defense is good, which means that SEA could end up grinding clock in the 2nd half of games. That would mean fewer pass attempts.
  • If you want to get some of the upside of Percy Harvin, but do it by laying off about 95% of your risk, you could look at Sidney Rice.
  • If Harvin ends up getting a lot of targets, it will most likely be with a large increase in SEA passing. That passing will also benefit Sidney Rice.
  • Sidney Rice finished as WR33 with just 82 targets. If Percy Harvin’s usage went up in the 140 target range, Sidney Rice could see 100 targets on the season. If he scored 1.2 FP/t (a decrease from last year’s rate) he would be looking at finishing the season in the WR25-30 range. It’s also possible that with Percy Harvin seeing a lot of the defense’s attention that Rice could score better than 1.2 FP/t.
  • The downside in this strategy has been almost totally eliminated. You don’t have to worry about SEA running the ball for the entire 2nd half because you won’t have spent a high draft pick on Harvin. But in the event that SEA does pass a lot, then you’re taking a guy at WR48 (which is close to throw-away draft pick territory) and he just finished a season as WR33 on a pretty small number of targets.
  • There’s one outcome I can think of that would be good for Harvin and bad for Rice and that is SEA just jamming targets to Harvin like MIN did. But if SEA is going to pay Sid Rice close to $10MM this year (including the pro-rated part of his signing bonus) to sit around and watch, then there’s not a lot you can do as a fantasy owner when that happens. And if you threw away a pick on a 4th or 5th WR on your team, it won’t be the end of the world.

This series hasn’t been about pissing in the Cheerios of the Percy Harvin fans out there. It’s been about looking at a situation and trying to lock in upside, while reducing risk. If you still really like Percy Harvin, then feel free to draft him as you may have a better read on the situation than I do. But what I’m trying to do is look at a situation that I don’t have a lot of certainty regarding, and figure out a way to get the best possible risk adjusted bet on.

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