Percy Harvin's Hip Injury - 2013 Fantasy Football Impact
Thursday’s unexpected news that Percy Harvin may miss part, or even all, of his first season as a Seahawk due to a labrum tear in his hip has definite fantasy implications for several players. While Harvin has yet to suit up for Seattle, and the rest of the offense would perform at a similar level as they did in 2012 in his absence, if the forthcoming second opinion recommends surgery, adjustments will need to be made to fantasy draft lists. In fact, that’s already the case.
If Harvin elects to attempt to play through the injury, something that Osi Umenyiora and Brandon Marshall have successfully done with similar ailments, it makes sense that his anticipated workload will be somewhat lightened. Plus, if he does get any time to do field work this summer, it will likely be relatively minimal even in the best-case scenario. For a weapon like Harvin, who will be used in a multitude of ways, losing valuable practice time during his initial training camp will slow the learning curve – and hence his expected statistical output, at least initially.
We’ll find out on Tuesday if the physician who will examine Harvin, Dr. Bryan Kelly, recommends surgery that could keep him out for the first half of the season, or even longer than that.
If Harvin does miss the season, it will have a greater effect on quarterback Russell Wilson’s receiving options than it will have on the passer himself. Wilson was not going to be throwing the ball appreciably more than he did during the second half of last season, even with Harvin available to him. In fact, Seattle’s run-to-pass ratio increased as the season wore on in 2012. Yet he went from the 23rd highest scoring fantasy quarterback in his first eight games, all the way to third best over the second half – along with registering the top fantasy points per drop back figure in the league during that time. If Wilson’s average draft position (ADP) does begin to slide out of the top 12 signal callers due to this news, it will present an excellent opportunity.
Golden Tate is one Seahawk who likely will benefit if Harvin is forced to miss games. His playing time looked to be in jeopardy with Harvin on the roster. That would have been a reversal of his increasing percentage of snaps played from his first three seasons. In Tate’s rookie year, he registered 29.7 percent of Seattle’s offensive snaps. He then followed up 2011’s 50.5 percent figure with a 77.3 snap percentage tally last year. Tate has improved steadily, as evidenced by his PFF grades in the passing game, from +0.4 in 2010, to +4.9 in 2011, and finally +13.1 in 2012. He’s also an underrated force in the red zone, and will have a better chance to continue his development with Harvin on the shelf. Tate is a sneaky value late in drafts, even though his ADP is sure to rise from its currently depressed level (73rd wideout, 193rd overall, according to myfantasyleague.com).
Sidney Rice is an overlooked fantasy receiver who was not getting enough respect in drafts to begin with. He certainly stands to gain from Harvin’s potential absence. Rice, who himself had hip surgery in 2010, finished last season strong with a 0.34 points per opportunity (PPO) score during the season’s second half. Coincidentally, that was one spot in front of Tate, and was good for 14th best among wideouts. If Harvin is sidelined, Rice also stands to begin more plays in the slot, where he thrived last season. On the 37.2 percent of plays in which he lined up there, he finished third in catch rate among his receiving peers, and fifth in yards per route run. His injury-prone reputation has weighed down his ADP, which is currently at a bargain price (53rd wideout, 139th overall).
Zach Miller came on nicely down the stretch and during the playoffs in 2012. He’s another candidate to benefit from Harvin’s prospective absence. A strong blocker, it would have been easy to minimize Miller’s role in the passing game and have him stay in to protect Wilson. He does run many of his routes to the portions of the field in which Harvin has traditionally been targeted. Harvin collected 80 percent of his 62 receptions in 2012 inside the 10-yard line and behind the line of scrimmage. Miller caught 74 percent of his 50 balls in the same range. He also ended 2012 with a +7.8 PFF passing game grade over his last six games – including a tour de force performance against the Falcons in the AFC Divisional round. Miller makes for a nice end-of-draft tight end grab in deep leagues, especially if Harvin is shelved for any length of time.
Marshawn Lynch probably will see a few more carries per game without Harvin in the lineup, but no more than that. Harvin would have siphoned a handful of carries away from Seattle’s running backs – but he has averaged a hair under three per game over the past two seasons. Even if we assume that all three per game come from Lynch, it would not have made an appreciable dent in his scoring output – especially considering the fact that Robert Turbin and rookie Christine Michael will probably give “Beast Mode” a bit more of a breather this season anyway. His place on fantasy draft lists should not be affected, other than in terms of the Seahawks offense getting a slight downgrade in total touchdown potential in general.
Harvin is currently the ninth wideout off the board, on average. Expect that number to drop significantly, as it should. Until we find out more on Tuesday, he should not be eliminated from consideration in drafts if he falls too far. Just last night, the Twitterverse was alive with tales of Harvin being selected in the ninth round, just one day after going in the third. At that point he presents an interesting risk, if it is to be believed that he can duplicate Marshall’s efforts to fight through his hip injury. Stay tuned …
when everything is goin good sometimes life throw u a curve ball… sorry to half to report that my injury will require surgery…
— Percy Harvin (@Percy_Harvin) July 30, 2013
Nobody was more anxious and excited about season then….but I will be back strong as ever..i appreciate all the love and prayers 12th man
— Percy Harvin (@Percy_Harvin) July 30, 2013
Percy Harvin tweeted on July 30 that his hip injury will require surgery. The NFL Network then reported that Harvin will miss approximately 3-4 months, which puts his estimated return in November or December. The Seahawks will likely either PUP Harvin and keep him out for at least the first six games, or put him on the short-term IR list.
Considering Harvin could be eyeing a potential November comeback, all fantasy value is not lost. As the above article points out, Harvin’s stock fell from the ninth receiver being drafted as high as the third round to being taken in the ninth round. Tonight’s news drops his stock even more, but I still see him as a worthy risk late in the draft, especially if your league sports an IR spot.
If he is able to return in three months, that’s right around Week 9. If it takes four months, it’ll be close to Week 13 – just in time for the fantasy football playoffs. With that being said, the Seahawks do have a Week 12 bye, so they might not rush him back if they know they’ll get an extra “free” week of recovery right around the anticipated time of healing.
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