In 2011, the diminutive Vikings speedster hauled in 87 catches (6th best in NFL) on 123 targets (18th in NFL). That was primarily with rookie QB Christian Ponder at the helm who didn’t have the benefit of a real training camp. Ponder has shown progress this preseason that should continue throughout 2012 as he benefits from a stronger O-line bolstered by 1st round pick Matt Kalil. OC Bill Musgrave might be forced to lean more on Ponder and the passing game with AP nursing his way back from ACL surgery. In the 10 games that Christian Ponder started last season, Percy Harvin was highly effective. As a matter of fact, if you averaged out his fantasy points per game for those ten starts over an entire season Harvin would have finished as the #2 fantasy WR in the league. He was also very close to a 100 catch pace.
We have no doubt that a healthy Percy Harvin finishes in the top 10 in targets in 2012 and maybe the top 5. Much has been made of the fact that Harvin was underutilized last season. He was on the field for just over 50% of the team’s offensive snaps and that will change this year. Harvin was clearly the focal point of the passing offense and we expect that he will continue to play a larger role even with AP returning, especially considering that it will take time to ramp AP up to speed.
Once Jerome Simpson returns to the lineup (after his 3-game suspension for smoking too much broccoli) the Vikings passing game will have a much better supporting cast than they did last season (sorry Mikey Jenkins dynasty owners). TE Kyle Rudolph is an emerging talent and defenses will have to pay attention to him in the middle of the field which should open up lanes for Harvin to burst through the seams for big plays.
Provided Harvin has the headache issue under control, and there are signs that he and a medical team have addressed the problem and can manage it moving forward (lay off the Chocolate Percy), we have no reason to think he won’t be a top 10 fantasy wide receiver in PPR leagues and the best bet to be the next new entry into the 100 catch club.