We’ve now had an evening to let the Percy Harvin injury news sit and simmer, and it wasn’t a good evening at all.
Yesterday I wrote that we need to chill out a little before breaking things during our Harvin reactions. I cautioned that we need to wait for the second opinion Harvin will seek, and that’s happening Tuesday. All of that is still true, but man, it’s really hard to not break out in cold sweats knowing what we now know.
Like most of you, I am not a medical professional, and I defer to people who know what they’re talking about on medical matters. So like most of you, I read the word “slight” in reference to Harvin’s tear when the report first surfaced on my computer screen, and assumed that left reason for optimism. Surely a slight tear would result in only a few missed games, right?
Maybe, but probably not, and the dense fog settling around Harvin’s status due to various reports estimating how long he won’t be playing football make for scary times, especially as we try to project his fantasy value, or at least whatever value he may have left.
Jason La Canfora reported that if Harvin does indeed need surgery, his season is over. That may end up being his fate, but Jene Bramel — the injury expert over at Football Guys who I’ve spoken to in the past, and turn to often because he knows quite a bit about breaks, rips, and such — says we should pump the brakes just a little, even if Harvin is cut up soon.
Most rehab protocols for hip arthroscopy suggest sport-specific activity can begin around 9-12 weeks after surgery. The rest of the rehab is then open-ended. Essentially, the player is ready when he’s ready. That could be 12 weeks, 16 weeks, or much longer. Elite athletes may hit the more optimistic end of the timetable, but 12-16 weeks may be a reasonable expectation — if there are no unexpected findings during surgery and no complications during rehab.
So, a 3-4 month return is probably the sweet spot for Harvin if he chooses surgery. If Harvin has the surgery soon, that makes a late November return possible.
Getting a little more specific with Bramel’s timeline, if Harvin were to have surgery next week and his recovery falls in line with the most optimistic range there (three months) he would, in theory, be healthy by the third week of October. That means seven missed games, and more likely at least half the season.
Then on the less — oh, so much less — optimistic end of Bramel’s timeline, Harvin would return by late November. Since the Seahawks have a Week 12 bye, that puts him out until Week 13. Essentially then he’d be useless for fantasy purposes, with the fantasy regular season ending that week in most leagues.
As Bramel and others have noted, though, there’s optimism to be found in relatively recent history. In the summer of 2010 Osi Umenyiora faced a nearly identical situation, and despite surgery being recommended he said nahhh I’m good. He then proceeded to record 11.5 sacks, which is one of only three times during a nine-year career that Umenyiora has reached the double-digit sack plateau.
More importantly for a direct comparison to Harvin, there’s also the tale of Brandon Marshall, who’s had three hip procedures (most recently, one this offseason), and he’s battled lingering hip injuries over the past three seasons. During that time he’s averaged 1,245 receiving yards, 95 catches, and 159 targets.
So no, Marshall hasn’t been slowed much, though he was mostly dealing with hip impingements during that time, which is different, but it still sounds incredibly excruciating. However, Bramel notes that Marshall most likely played through a labrum tear in 2008, and he was still pretty alright then, finishing with 1,265 yards during his third season with six touchdowns, and his usage didn’t drop at all (with 181 targets, that season still stands as one of only two when Marshall has been targeted at least 180 times).
What should you do with fantasy drafts beginning to become a lot more frequent, and the calendar flipping to August soon? As we can see from the scattered projections above, that’s not an easy decision (#analysis). Harvin’s ADP was already exceedingly high, and listed at 34.6 by Fantasy Football Calculator. That number will plummet to dusty thrift store price range soon, which is what makes this decision with current information even more difficult, if such a thing is possible.
Let’s go back to the most optimistic scenario, and Harvin returning by late October. If his ADP quickly spikes downwards to about the 10th round (as it should), you’ll then be able to get half a season of production from a wide receiver with elite after the catch ability, in an offense ideally suited for his skills. At that price or lower, the high risk of owning and stashing Harvin is minimized, with the reward especially tempting if he can be a contributor during fantasy playoff time.
But although the risk in that rosiest Utopia becomes tolerable and manageable, it’s still pretty damn frightening, especially when we look at some of the other receivers who are hovering around the 100th overall pick. Those guys have names like Jeremy Maclin, DeAndre Hopkins, Emmanuel Sanders, Vincent Brown, Mike Williams, and Lance Moore. They’re all low-end WR2 options, and they can easily be plugged into a WR3 slot each week.
And while injuries can randomly break any man, right now you know that if he has surgery, a full season from Harvin isn’t happening. While I’m not a betting man, I’d say a full season from quite literally any other wide receiver not named Harvin is much more possible.
This leads us to a shaky conclusion in a situation which could have no other conclusion. While I can understand the upside of stashing Harvin at the right price if he falls far enough, the risk of having him stagnant on your bench for half a season in the most dreamy scenario while anyone else at all could be doing something doesn’t appeal to me whatsoever.
Someone will take that jump. Let them.