Dynasty Roundtable: Veterans to Target

A collaborative staff discussion of dynasty-themed topics in the offseason: Which aging veterans are you targeting in the offseason?

The Footballguys staff got together to discuss various dynasty-themed topics as we head into the offseason. This series of articles is designed to give you a boost of knowledge on the dynasty front covering several relevant and pertinent topics over the course of the offseason. Below is the fourth installment of our collaborative discussion.

Other offseason dynasty discussions:

Jeff Haseley:

Who are some aging veterans at each position (quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and tight end) you would entertain targeting as a buy but most people are looking to sell? In other words, who are some veterans you believe have at least one more productive season in them and could help your team this year but wouldn’t cost too much to acquire? Explain your reasoning.

Sigmund Bloom

Tom Brady, TB - He'll probably be the cheapest vet quarterback that carries a reasonable chance of being a fantasy QB1 if you just want someone for 2021.

Jeff Wilson, SF - Wilson should at worst split the work with Raheem Mostert while getting goal-line carries, which makes him the more valuable back for fantasy. He also has a long track record of high ceiling games when he gets an extended opportunity.

Odell Beckham Jr, CLE - The dynasty community is fading Beckham and there is a widespread belief that the Browns offense came alive because he got hurt. If the real answer was just that Baker Mayfield got comfortable in the second half of the year, then Beckham should be in for a lot more opportunities to make big plays downfield.

Logan Thomas, WAS - Thomas is turning 30 this year, but there's a good argument that his best football is ahead of him. He was a top-three tight end for the last five weeks of the season despite playing with three different quarterbacks, none of whom are clear starting quality. His quality of play started to take off in the second half of the year and Thomas should be a core part of the offense this season and reasonable plan as TE1 for your fantasy team going into the season.

Jason Wood

Tom Brady, TB - I agree with Sigmund. Brady has a consensus industry dynasty ranking of QB23 currently. He was QB7 last year in his first season as a Buccaneer and then went on to win the Super Bowl. There's a 100% chance he returns, and most of the roster should be intact particularly since they franchise tagged Chris Godwin. Why would we assume Brady won't deliver top-10 value in 2021?

David Johnson, HOU - Johnson just reworked his contract to remain in Houston, but ranks RB39 among the consensus. Whether DeShaun Watson plays in Houston or not, Johnson is a strong bet to deliver better value than RB39. But his upside is particularly enticing if Watson is traded, as the Texans will most certainly have a young quarterback or a transitional veteran, and they will be far more likely to dump off passes to Johnson with aplomb. Johnson could be a PPR dynamo in 2021 under those circumstances.

Adam Thielen, MIN - Did I miss a career-threatening injury in the last few weeks? How else can we explain Thielen's WR35 dynasty ranking? Thielen is coming off a season where he finished WR8 with 74 receptions for 945 yards and 14 touchdowns. Sure, he's on the wrong side of 30. Yes, the 14 touchdowns won't be replicated. But it's not like Thielen's 2020 was an outlier. It was his third top-10 season in the last four years. With defenses having to account for Justin Jefferson, and Kirk Cousins staying aboard at quarterback, Thielen is demonstrably more valuable than his consensus ranking suggests.

Dave Kluge

Aaron Rodgers, GB - I get the trepidation here as he’s now 37 years old. While he might only have a few years left in the tank, those next few years should keep him firmly in QB1 territory. He just set his career-best for touchdowns in a season as the Packers' gameplan with Matt LeFleur was to force-feed Davante Adams in the red zone relentlessly. We’ve seen both Tom Brady and Drew Brees play solid football into their early-40s as modern medicine, nutrition, and rules set on protecting quarterbacks are lengthening careers. It won’t be easy prying Rodgers away from the hands of a contender. But if he is on a roster that is approaching a rebuild, he’s a fantastic target that will allow you to reap the rewards of his stellar play for another handful of years.

David Johnson, HOU - His situation can surely change after free agency and the draft, but the Texans just restructured his contract to keep him in Houston on a more affordable deal for 2021. This news came just days after cutting backup running back Duke Johnson Jr. It doesn’t take much of an imagination to see that the backfield is currently David Johnson’s for the taking. As for Deshaun Watson’s situation, I think it’s a win-win for Johnson. If Watson plays in 2021, he will open the field and give Johnson more opportunities in open space. If Watson doesn’t play, Johnson is more likely to be utilized as a check-down pass-catcher instead of Watson’s penchant for tucking the ball and running. He’s burned a lot of fantasy owners over the years with injuries, but he can be had for almost nothing right now in dynasty leagues and should contribute next season as a high-end RB2. If you factor out the game where Johnson was injured after just 16 yards last season, he was the RB11 in PPR points per game.

Julio Jones, ATL - Julio is a guy who carries a lot of risk, but he shouldn’t be ignored and still offers WR1 upside. A ceiling like that is something you can’t place on most aging wide receivers. With Calvin Ridley taking over as the Falcons’ lead pass-catcher, Jones is being forgotten about. Now 32 years old, Jones is well past his prime, but he was still effective in his role last season. The oft-injured veteran was only able to suit up for nine games, but his per-game averages were good enough to be WR7 on the year. He’s still dominant when healthy and should be a target for any teams in contention. Obviously, Ridley has a much better long-term outlook, but Jones could always have another couple of years in the tank.

Andy Hicks

Matt Ryan, ATL - After his MVP season, Aaron Rodgers shouldn't be considered, but Matt Ryan can probably be a much easier player to target. As a fantasy starter for 9 of his 11 most recent seasons and in a lame-duck year in Atlanta he has value for the 2022 season onwards, especially if he can land with the 49ers. San Francisco may have a run at someone else this year or Kirk Cousins next year, but Ryan will land a starting job somewhere and his asking price should be minimal.

Raheem Mostert, SF - Running Back is a young man's position as is evidenced by the lack of players over the age of 27 that finished in the Top 24 of running backs last year. David Johnson was the only one to tick that box and his future is patchy depending on where he is for 2021. Those 27 and over are likely free agents such as Mike Davis, Giovani Bernard, J.D. McKissic, Le'Veon Bell, Mark Ingram II, Latavius Murray, Jerick McKinnon, Carlos Hyde, Adrian Peterson, James White, Rex Burkhead, etc.

Only Raheem Mostert and probably David Johnson and Melvin Gordon III stay where they are. We need to see how free agency and the draft shakes out for this group. Mostert would be the only one I would target and even then Jeff Wilson may be a better option for 2021. That also relies on the 49ers not drafting or targetting another back in free agency

A.J. Green, CIN - A.J. Green hasn’t been a fantasy starter since 2017, and I would question his desire at the moment. Injuries are one thing, but there were times last year you had to question his dedication. The free agency process will tell us where he is. Will he get a good deal or have to accept a one-year deal with conditions? He is at the bottom of his market and costs pennies. He is too good of a player to write off completely though.

Zach Ertz, PHI - Aging tight ends are seldom a good investment especially when they are plying their wares on a new team every season. Zach Ertz is expected to move on. Where is the fun question? He still has life and his value could fluctuate wildly depending on where he lands. How his current manager views him determines if he will be valuable or not. If he has been this franchise's starter for years and they have no depth, it will be difficult. If the manager is looking to move him on, he could be a bargain.

Troy King

Tom Brady, TB - Besides being the obvious GOAT, it was a surprise to most fantasy players when Brady finished as QB8 last season (let alone the Super Bowl). Throwing for 4,633 yards, 40 touchdowns, and only 12 interceptions in his first year in a new system was very encouraging for his long-term outlook. With most of his supporting cast expected to return next season, it would be a safe bet to predict Brady finishing as a QB1 next season.

Derrick Henry, TEN - Despite finishing as the RB3 last year in PPR, fantasy players are always concerned about his mileage along with him being non-existent in the passing game. The fear of unsustainability at age 27 is what makes him so appealing as a trade target for managers who may be looking to offload. The Titan offense is designed around featuring Henry early and often, and I do not see that changing in the 2021 season.

Julio Jones, ATL - Injuries have been the main reason Jones' perceived value has dropped in Dynasty. Jones has also never been known to be a touchdown guy -- the only time he has had a double-digit touchdown season was in 2012. Despite those concerns, Jones is still one of the best and most heavily targeted receivers in the league. Even if Jones doesn’t play 16 games, he has the ability to win multiple weeks with his volume of catches and total yardage.

Travis Kelce, KC - There isn’t much argument that needs to be made for a player that has finished as the TE1 every year since 2016. With the way the tight-end landscape is in fantasy, you want to have that position locked down so you have a positional advantage compared to your league-mates. The Kansas City offense is still expected to be one of the best offenses in the league for years to come. Kelce is an easy buy even at this price tag.

Will Grant

Ben Roethlisberger, PIT - I agree that Aaron Rodgers would be the easy choice here but as Andy pointed out -- after last season, he's going to command a premium trade value to pry him away from his current owner. Roethlisberger may not though. For the season, he was more of a solid backup than a starting fantasy quarterback, but he actually had a pretty good season. His completion percentage was still over 65 percent and his touchdown to interception ratio was a decent 33 to 10. He is a tough competitor, and the Steelers are a different team without him under center. I think he can have at least one, if not two more, productive seasons with Pittsburgh. I would be happy to have him on my team as a backup.

Melvin Gordon III, DEN - Gordon has been a guy people seem to have forgotten because he didn't have a great season with just 980 yards rushing last year. He's 27 and it feels like he's been in the league for many years. Yet the reality is that Gordon still averaged 4.6 yards-per-carry last year and had nine rushing touchdowns (10 total). He's a solid No. 2 who I think still has decent upside. Philip Lindsay and Royce Freeman are not in danger of stealing a ton of carries from Gordon so if the Bronco offense can get out of second gear next year, Gordon could be a decent, productive back.

Wide receiver is an odd one for me because some guys like Adam Thielen are 30 and producing and some guys like Nelson Agholor are 27 and really not. I will hedge my bet a bit on this one:

Marvin Jones Jr, DET - A guy who I consistently dismiss as too old for my roster but then find myself looking at with a free-agency move or spot-starter trade is Jones. He's 31 and will probably move on from Detroit, but Jones posted three-year high totals in receiving yards and touchdowns. He has some gas left in the tank, and the right system and quarterback could take advantage of that. Even if he stays with Detroit, Jones should still have a decent 2021. Jones is one of those guys who fill in that what-the-heck flex position, and he should be on a roster in any PPR league. Assuming he doesn't move to a team where he's No. 3 or No. 4 on the depth chart, he would be a guy I'd consider buying.

Eric Ebron, PIT - I had higher hopes for Ebron when he moved to Pittsburgh last season, but he was hot and cold all season and actually disappeared for big chunks of it. But in the second half of 2021, Ebron started to emerge as a key component to the Pittsburgh offense, catching a touchdown in three of the four games between Weeks 8-11 and adding a couple of seven-reception games down the stretch. I think he has upside for next year and could even post starter quality fantasy numbers, especially in bonus-reception leagues.

Chad Parsons

Russell Wilson, SEA - Wilson is a rumored trade player this offseason, but the theme is productive profiles. Wilson has eight top-12 aPPG (adjusted points-per-game) seasons in his career and was top-six in three of the past four years. Buy the profile, fade the noise.

Deshaun Watson, HOU - Watson is on an elite track to open his career with three top-seven aPPG seasons in his first four years. Questions surround his Houston standing, but invest in the player more than the situation -- mid-20s with multiple top-five seasons despite situational roadblocks to-date.

Ezekiel Elliott, DAL - Running backs are tougher veteran bets in the offseason than other skill positions, but Elliott outside the consensus top-12 backs in Dynasty is a situation to exploit. The split for Elliott with and without Dak Prescott in 2020, along with the wide receivers is a stark contrast. Prescott is likely under center for Dallas this coming season and fade the white noise of Tony Pollard taking his job or a 26-year-old top-five NFL Draft pick with four top-five aPPG seasons in his opening five NFL years being washed up.

Keenan Allen, LAC - Allen outside the top-35 dynasty wide receivers in the general marketplace is one of the valuations to exploit. Being 29 years old will discount nearly every wide receiver profile in Dynasty, however, Allen has five top-12 seasons, including each of the past four years, on his record. Allen is the type of profile to age gracefully into his 30s and now attached to Justin Herbert insulates his situation after Philip Rivers left in 2019.

Evan Engram, NYG - Engram has fallen through the floor this offseason after a TE16 aPPG finish in 2020 and a low-efficiency point-per-target year. However, Engram had three top-eight aPPG seasons previously, has Round 1 draft capital, lauded movement for the position, and is a projected free agent in 2022 even if the Giants situation continues to hold back Engram in the short term.

Jordan McNamara

Two who stand out to me...

David Johnson, HOU - David Johnson is back for another year with Houston after taking a pay cut that guaranteed his contract. He is outside the Top 30 -- a rare draft position for running backs while in line for a big workload. Some will question his age, but in terms of a one-year player, the cost is difficult to beat, especially after he saw improvements in his yards gained above expectation statistics off previous seasons.

Julio Jones, ATL - Julio will be undervalued for the rest of his career. Give me a WR1 who is going to the Hall of Fame, in a good offense, with a good quarterback, who is falling in price in his early 30s. They tend to play longer and better than we expect, especially when they were high NFL Draft picks.

Adam Wilde

Sam Darnold, NYJ - The former first-overall pick has experienced nothing short of a whirlwind of disfunction in his first three seasons with the Jets. Between bad offensive line play, lack of weapons, and objectively the worst head coach in football, he hasn't been given much of a fair crack. I'm not certain what the addition of Robert Saleh means for Darnold, but I am certain he deserves to be drafted in dynasty leagues before Jameis Winston and Mac Jones. With the addition of tackle Mekhi Beckton and wide receiver Denzel Mims, the Jets offense is trending in the right direction. I anticipate them adding a running back and perhaps another receiver in the 2021 draft. It would be best to trade for Darnold now before any positive offseason buzz starts generating.

Joe Mixon, CIN - Mixon earned the coveted second contract this past offseason before losing the 2020 campaign to injury. I tend to worry more about contract situations with running backs than I do age or touches. With that said, Mixon is just 24 years old and is coming with an injury discount that has placed him behind every nearly every notable running back from the 2020 class sans A.J. Dillon. One year removed from back-to-back thousand-yard seasons, Mixon stands to benefit from improved quarterback play and improved offensive weapons.

Jarvis Landry, CLE - The glorified running back has been just as productive as ever. Landry just capped off his seventh-straight 100-target season paired with yet another catch rate over 70%. The general public typically decides not to value him, but if you love consistent fantasy points, Landry is an excellent target at WR40+. He is under contract for two more seasons with the Browns, though he can be released in 2022 for roughly 1.5 million. The risk of a release next season is already baked into his price tenfold.

Noah Fant, DEN - Tight end is a tough position to get excited about. I avoid them under all circumstances in rookie drafts (yes, even Kyle Pitts). In fact, if I had a pick in the Pitts range of my rookie draft and I wanted a tight end, I'd be looking to trade that pick for Fant plus a later pick. Both Fant and Drew Lock spent time on the injury report in 2020 which means they didn't spend much time building rapport. With that being said, Fant still managed a respectable season with 62 receptions for 673 yards and 3 touchdowns while missing two games and exiting two others early. I'm not one to extrapolate so I will simply say I expect an impressive third season from Fant.

Questions, suggestions, and comments are always welcome to haseley@footballguys.com

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