By: Russell Shaffer
A few teams got a jump on the NFL’s free agent frenzy by dealing two of the game’s top receivers in exchange for draft picks. The Minnesota Vikings have reportedly sent budding star Percy Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks for a 2013 1st and 7th round selection and a mid-round pick in 2014. The salary cap constrained Baltimore Ravens also reluctantly swapped (or should I say gave away) Anquan Boldin to Super Bowl rival San Francisco for a 2013 6th round choice.
So what gives?
Harvin had fallen out of favor in Minnesota, a real head scratcher given his explosive playmaking potential. Perhaps it was his mounting reputation as an injury risk or an inability to coexist with management, but team leader Adrian Peterson has already referred to the deal, still awaiting finalization pending a physical, as a “kick to the stomach”.
The Boldin trade appears to be simply a numbers move as the Ravens are trying desperately to keep together a Super Bowl-winning roster amidst significant cap issues and multiple free agents. The Ravens asked Boldin to restructure his deal in order to keep him, a request Boldin refused on principle. That all but sealed Boldin’s move from The Harbor to The Bay albeit at a really discounted price. The 49ers have to be thrilled to have netted such a productive WR for next to nothing, and a Niners source calls the deal done pending a physical.
Fantasy Bottom Line
Percy Harvin was well on his way to becoming a top 5 WR before being shut down mid-season with an ankle injury. A healthy Harvin in Minnesota was probably still on the verge of that, and you have to love him going to a Seattle offense that actually has a NFL-caliber QB. Until I see a healthy Harvin in training camp, I have him just outside the top 5 at #7 among WRs but he’s easily capable of moving ahead of Julio Jones and Roddy White.
The acquisition of Harvin as a legitimate #1 WR solidifies Russell Wilson as a top 10 QB. Wilson’s running prowess coupled with his ability to pile up passing yards with guys like Golden Tate and Sidney Rice gets a significant boost with Harvin hitting the Pacific Northwest. If you opt to wait on QB beyond the first two tiers, Wilson could be a great value around the 5th round.
Harvin’s departure from Minnesota leaves the aforementioned Peterson as the only draftable Viking save kicker extraordinaire Blair Walsh. Peterson had his magical run last year while Harvin was injured so this despite the trade, Peterson should still be the first player off the board in 2013 fantasy football draft.
Boldin’s value stays about the same with the move from Baltimore to San Francisco, leaving one QB who likes to sling it (Joe Flacco) for another (Colin Kaepernick). At this point of his career, Boldin is at best a low-end #3 WR and more reasonably a mid-level flex play with a slight bump in PPR leagues. He should be a good value somewhere around the 11th round.
It’s still early in the offseason, so don’t worry about Flacco taking a hit without Boldin. The Ravens still have time to replace him, but with or without Boldin, Flacco is outside my top 12.
Kaepernick will be aided slightly by having another weapon on the outside, but it doesn’t impact his fantasy value. I have him at #7 in my QB ranks, assuming we see a healthy Robert Griffin III ready for the regular season opener.
The real loser here is Michael Crabtree. Randy Moss was never a real threat to take away targets, while Boldin on the other hand is still a viable NFL receiver. Crabtree emerged as a legitimate low-end #2 WR following Kaepernick’s installation as the starter, and this move merits a closer look as exhibition games arrive. Right now I look for Crabtree just inside the top 30 WR and hope to nab him around the 9th or 10th round.
What do you think? Join the conversation by leaving feedback or questions in the Comments section.
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