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News-Herald Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Kleps doesn’t just write headlines and stories. He also checks on his fantasy sports teams. A lot. See if the moves and news from the world of sports affect your fantasy teams.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The end of a Rice-like era: Harrison leaves Colts

Marvin Harrison's exit wasn't a surprise. As sports fans, we've become almost immune to a great player leaving the team for which he made his name.

Harrison will move on, possibly reuniting with college teammate Donovan McNabb in Philadelphia, but we'll always see him as a Colt.

Today, we'll take a break from start-and-sit advice and the free-agent targets of the week.

Instead, let's truly appreciate how good Harrison was with the Colts. For fantasy owners, there's only been one other wide receiver who could compare. A guy by the name of Rice.

Harrison injured his knee and played in only five games in 2007. Last season, he was a shell of himself, catching only 60 passes for 636 yards (a very un-Harrison-like 10.6 yards per reception) and five touchdowns.

The two down seasons followed an eight-year stretch that is rivaled only by Jerry Rice.

From 1999 to 2006, Harrison caught at least 82 passes for 1,113 yards and 10 touchdowns each year. His eight-year averages: 103 receptions for 1,402 yards and 13 TDs.

Rice's best eight-year stretch with the 49ers was from 1989 to '96. In that span, he caught at least 80 passes for 1,201 yards and eight touchdowns each season (he had at least 10 TDs each year until 1996, when he totaled eight). Rice's eight-year averages were 98 receptions for 1,437 yards and 13 touchdowns.

How comparable was Harrison to Rice during those eight-year runs? Here are the totals:

Harrison, 1999 to 2006: 826 receptions, 11,219 yards, 101 touchdowns
Rice, 1989 to 1996: 786 receptions, 11,496 yards, 105 touchdowns

In point-per-reception leagues that give one-tenth of a point for a receiving yard and six points for a TD, Rice was 11.7 points better than Harrison over an eight-year span.

As Rice did with the Raiders and the Seahawks, Harrison will play for another team. He might even be decent enough to warrant a spot on your bench next season.

Regardless, McNabb-to-Harrison won't have the same ring as Manning-to-Harrison.

By now, we know to keep the emotions out of it. But that shouldn't stop us from appreciating the production of a receiver who did the unthinkable: He was almost as good as Rice.


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