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The Percy Harvin Fantasy Bomb Shell: Impact on the Seattle Seahawks

Russell Wilson

Part two of my look at the Percy Harvin fantasy landscape shifting trade this weekend. Part one, looking at the potential impact to the New York Jets, is in the related links at the bottom of the page.

Here are my insights as they relate to the Seahawks. I say “insights” and not “conclusions” because frankly there aren’t any conclusions to be made yet. Let’s get that out of the way first. A lot of the issues involved in this trade appear to be related to intangible things like chemistry. By definition, it’s impossible to predict the impact of a change to a non-measurable variable.

But I do have some thoughts that might help give you a framework for thinking about what we’ll see going forward in Seattle.

Russell Wilson

russell

I used the Game Splits App to generate these numbers; have at it yourself, if you’d like to tweak any of the inputs. There’s a modest difference in fantasy points/game, and an improvement in completion percentage and interception rate. The biggest difference really appears to be in the rushing area, where Wilson posts a much higher rushing TD rate with Harvin in the lineup. That makes sense: Harvin himself is a decent rusher, so having him on the field could make it harder to contain Wilson.

Wilson’s completion percentage could very well decline; in the first part of this series I noted that all of his QBs had better completion percentages with Harvin in the lineup. But the sample size of games with Harvin is really small. We’ve seen Wilson perform at a high level without Harvin (or any other great receiver, for that matter) for a few seasons now. No reason to expect anything different from Wilson. If anything, Seattle’s apparent defensive shortcomings might mean Wilson needs to keep the pedal to the metal on offense, resulting in even more production, even without Harvin.

Marshawn Lynch

As I talked about in part one, this may be an area where there’s some impact. Here are Lynch’s splits with and without Harvin.

lynch1

Lynch is averaging four fantasy points/game more with Harvin in the lineup. That’s a big difference. But if we dig deeper we see that it’s mostly due to a much higher TD rate with Harvin in the lineup. Lynch not only scores more with Harvin, but  is more involved in the passing game. On the other hand, his rushing yards/game are down quite a bit.

Again we have an issue with a small sample size, but we do have a historical precedent. Harvin also played with Adrian Peterson. Of course Lynch is no Peterson, but both are known more for their reckless running than pass-game prowess.

peterson

I used 2008 to 2013 as the date range. That includes the year before and after Harvin left Minnesota, as well as his three seasons in Minnesota. We see some similarities: Like Lynch, Peterson had more receptions and receiving yardage when he played with Harvin. Also like Lynch, he had fewer rushing attempts and yards/game with Harvin. The main difference seems to be that Peterson’s TD rates (both receiving and rushing) were basically unaffected, and his fantasy points were pretty much the same.

So what accounts for Lynch’s pass-scoring prowess this season? This is important since it’s the source of most of his fantasy scoring boost.1I’m not sure. It doesn’t appear to be strictly a result of Harvin’s presence, or I’d think we would have seen something similar in Minnesota with Peterson. But I do expect it to regress.

Since arriving in Seattle, Lynch has posted receiving TD/game rates of 0.07, 0.06, and 0.12. His current rate of 0.67 receiving TDs/game is unsustainable. For reference, Jamaal Charles finished last season at 0.47. The best season I could find was Marshall Faulk in 2001, who posted 0.64 receiving TDs/game. I think we can agree that Lynch is not a Faulkian receiver. Regardless of cause then, it seems likely that Lynch’s fantasy scoring will revert to his normal range of his Seattle tenure. Which is still really good. Nothing to worry about here either, in my opinion. How Lynch accumulates his fantasy points might swing a bit from receiving back to rushing, and his TD rate is most likely decreasing. But were you happy with him last year when he was a top five fantasy back? Then you’ll be happy again this year.

One possible dynasty consideration would be to try to sell Lynch a bit higher than normal based on his seasonal production and possible expectation that he’s more valuable without Harvin around. Recent events may have distracted other owners from the distinct possibility that Lynch is no longer in Seattle next year and allow you to extract a bit more value in a trade.

Wide Receivers

Rather than post game splits for each receiver, because of the small samples of games, I decided to look at things a bit differently. There are many different ways to project how the Seahawks will utilize their receivers, but basically they all boil down to “I’m guessing it’ll be this guy.” Instead I’ll just present two likely scenarios. This table shows wide receiver targets/game in games Harvin played for Seahawks receivers. Harvin was getting roughly five targets/game. The “Even Split” column shows how many targets per game each receiver could expect if Harvin’s targets are just re-allocated evenly. The next column shows expected targets if all of Harvin’s are just split between Doug Baldwin and Paul Richardson. The final column shows a PPR points/target value. This is the average of the players seasonal and career points/target rates.2 If you think the targets will get distributed differently, you could use that points/target number to come up with your own projection.

Player With PH Tar/G Even Split DB/PR Split Point/Tar
Doug Baldwin 5.8 6.80 8.0 1.75
Jermaine Kearse 4.3 5.30 4.30 1.44
Kevin Norwood 0.2 1.20 0.20 1.4
Paul Richardson 1.0 2.00 4.0 1.5
Ricardo Lockette 1.0 2.00 1 3.4
Percy Harvin 5.2 0.00 0 1.87

So, if we apply the points/target value to the expected targets, we can project fantasy points/game:

Player Even Split DB/PR
Doug Baldwin 11.9 14.0
Jermaine Kearse 7.6 6.2
Kevin Norwood 1.68 0.3
Paul Richardson 3 6.0
Ricardo Lockette 6.8 3.4

If Harvin’s vacated targets are evenly distributed, Baldwin could average about 12 PPR points/game. None of the others really stand out as anything desirable. If the available targets are split between Baldwin and Richardson, then Baldwin bumps to a very respectable 14 points/game. But even then, Richardson isn’t that appealing. In fact, if we gave all five of Harvin’s targets to Richardson, he’d only project to 9 points/game. My takeaway here is to let other players spend their FAAB dollars on Richardson and/or Kearse. Baldwin projects as the only receiver to become worthwhile. Baldwin is likely already owned but is an obvious add if not. In terms of trade, of course he’s desirable, but his best case scenario should be kept in mind; don’t overpay.

Conclusion

The main conclusion for me is that uncertainty can provide an opportunity to either acquire or offload players. Wilson and Lynch should produce at their typical rates, and Baldwin has the most upside among the WRs. Whether you’re buying or selling, the current environment can provide an opportunity to make a move based on your team’s goals.

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  1. His rushing TD rate is high, but not out of line with his recent seasons.  (back)
  2. I did this to partially account for any inflation/deflation Harvin may have added. In the case of Norwood and Richardson, all 2014 rookie WRs are averaging 1.4 points/target, so their values seem appropriate.  (back)

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