Each and every year, you’ll hear fantasy football analysts telling you to sell the running back who is 32 years old. Duh. I don’t mean to be rude, but even the most novice dynasty player can spot those players from a mile away. The idea is to find those players a year or two before they hit those lists, because then is when you’ll still be able to get top-dollar. Okay, maybe not top-dollar, but you’ll get something useful in return. I mean, what are you really going to get for Frank Gore this offseason? A fourth-round pick?
Just yesterday, I uncovered some dynasty players to target as sleepers (read it here), so we thought this article would compliment that well. Here, I’ll give you players who are still going to contribute for another year or so, but you’re best off unloading them before their perceived value evaporates. I’ll also give you the “obvious” ones, just in case you missed them.
Make sure to check out our dynasty trade value chart before you make a trade. You can find it right here.
Ben Roethlisberger (PIT)
In case your leaguemates haven’t been paying attention, Roethlisberger has started to mention retirement more than Brett Favre did during his playing days. Knowing he’s a big man at 6-foot-5 and 240-plus pounds, his body isn’t going to hold up as well as someone like Tom Brady. On top of that, Roethlisberger is viewed as somewhat of an elite quarterback, though that hasn’t translated to fantasy throughout his career, finishing inside the top-8 just twice in his 14-year career, and one of those times was back in 2007. He’s very replaceable in fantasy and someone likely values him more than you should.
Philip Rivers (LAC)
This one is tough because Rivers hasn’t quite hit that downturn of his career, though it’s coming. He’ll be 37 at the end of this year, which is usually one of the last years of elite production out of quarterbacks. But the reason you sell Rivers, is because he hasn’t evolved with fantasy football. Rushing is an important part of production, and the reason six of the top seven fantasy quarterbacks rushed for at least 98 yards, with five of them totaling at least 179 rushing yards. It’s also the reason Rivers finished as the No. 8 quarterback in fantasy football despite throwing for more yardage than anyone not named Tom Brady. You can find similar production for much cheaper.
Drew Brees (NO)
Did you realize Brees just turned 39 years old in January? Most don’t, but there a decline imminent. Fortunately for Brees, both he and Sean Payton have worked together to hide any decline in his passing, executing a lot of stuff underneath the safeties. I have no doubt that Brees will remain a competent/above average NFL starter for another year or two, but his days of finishing as a top-three quarterback are likely over.
The obvious ones: Tom Brady (NE)
Mark Ingram (NO)
When it comes to running backs, you’re not going to be a hot commodity entering your age-29 season. That’s the age Ingram will be when he hits free agency after this season. In fact, he’ll turn 29 in-season this year. If you’ve paid attention to the NFL over the last few years, you’ve probably noticed how much of an impact young running backs are making in fantasy. Some will buy Ingram with the thought he’ll have value when he leaves the Saints and becomes a true workhorse, but that’s not going to happen. No matter where he goes, he’ll be a part of a timeshare, and one that likely produces less fantasy points than the Saints offense. This might be your last chance to get maximum return on him.
LeSean McCoy (BUF)
This one falls under the obvious category to me, but there’s some who believe McCoy has another couple years of RB1 production. He’s going to turn 30 years old in July and can be cut after the 2018 season with just a $2.6 million cap hit. Despite the fact that McCoy finished as the No. 7 running back in 2017, there were already signs of a decline in his performances, as he finished as a top-20 running back in just 7-of-16 games. He did that while essentially being the only legitimate running back on the team. The offensive line looks to have gotten worse with the loss of center Eric Wood, and the Bills are likely to add another running back.
Lamar Miller (HOU)
The writing is apparently on the wall for Miller to become a cap casualty this offseason, as he would cost the Texans just $2 million against the cap to release. Miller has never lived up to expectations while in Houston and is likely best suited in a timeshare. He’ll be 27 years old in April, so he’s not that old, but his value over the last few years has been on value alone. With a running back class that is so stacked in the draft, it’s unclear as to how many teams would line up for his services. His status with the team likely comes down to the health of D’Onta Foreman, and that’s not something you want from a running back you’re relying on for RB2-type production. It’s best to sell before his value hits the fan.
C.J. Anderson (DEN)
Another running back who has a chance of being released, Anderson has never been able to stay on the field. His talent while carrying the ball is definitely above-average, but when you see an RB-needy team like the Broncos willing to move on, it’s telling. As is the case with the aforementioned Miller, the free agent market isn’t going to be a strong one for running backs with all the young talent coming into the league, so expect Anderson to wind up in a timeshare somewhere. When that happens, his value falls into a range of “replaceable” in most dynasty formats.
Bilal Powell (NYJ)
Some are valuing Powell more now that the Jets are expected to move on from Matt Forte, but I urge you to approach with caution. Most have just now become accustomed to Powell’s name in fantasy, but don’t realize he’s going to be 30 years old this year. The Jets are a team that’s looking to get younger, as evidenced of the pending-Forte release and not re-signing of Josh McCown. It’s not that Powell won’t have some sort of flex value during certain weeks, but it’s also possible that the Jets draft a running back who they believe is better than Powell. Take advantage when the Jets release Forte, and sell Powell based on the expectations that he’ll become the starter.
Adam Thielen (MIN)
This may come as a shock to some, but there’s a good reason he’s here on this list. Not only will Thielen be 28 when the season starts, but the departure of offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur might be bigger than most realize. His presence is essentially what started the emergence of Thielen as a 26-year-old wide receiver. Not only did Shurmur’s offense use the slot receiver often, but the quarterback who was targeting him (Case Keenum) as a team-favorite is now a free agent. Even as the year went on, we saw Stefon Diggs emerging while Thielen dealt with a back injury. Going as a top-30 pick in dynasty formats is way too rich, so sell now while the price is still that high. Seriously, he’s going before Travis Kelce in startup drafts. Fix this.
Demaryius Thomas (DEN)
Once considered an untradeable asset, Thomas has been on the decline for a little while now. Not that he’s unusable or anything, but he’s far from the annual top-five wide receiver he always was. After finishing as the No. 3 wide receiver in 2014, Thomas has finished No. 13, No. 19, and most recently, No. 23. It’s a clear trend in the wrong direction, and that’s despite seeing at least 140 targets in each of those seasons. He’s now 30 years old and will have to start fresh with a new quarterback under center. Unless it’s Kirk Cousins, the downward trend is likely to continue. The Broncos drafted Carlos Henderson in the fourth-round last year and will likely draft another receiver this year, preparing for life without the once-elite receiver. He’s still got value, but not for much longer.
Emmanuel Sanders (DEN)
Just because Sanders isn’t built like a No. 1 receiver, most haven’t realized his age and how it may have added to the injury-susceptibility over the last two years. He’ll turn 31 years old in a few weeks and we’ve seen his yards per target dip in three straight seasons, hitting a career-low 6.0 in 2017. While the quarterback issues definitely contribute, Sanders hasn’t been what you’d call a fantasy asset over the last two years. Some will point to his year-end finish in 2016 to argue that point, but he’s finished with more than eight fantasy points just six times in the last two years. A few big games won’t win you fantasy championships. He’s currently going in front of guys like Dede Westbrook and Marquise Goodwin in dynasty startup drafts. If you can land either of those guys for him, do it.
Michael Crabtree (OAK)
We haven’t heard too much about the status of Crabtree since Jon Gruden accepted the head coaching job, but was a rumor out there that he may be a cap casualty. He wouldn’t cost the team anything against the cap to release him and would clear $7.7 million in cap space. That’s not a whole lot of savings, so the rumors may turn out to be false. Either way, Crabtree will turn 31 years old at the start of the season, which is about one year away from the time most wide receivers start their fantasy decline. Even if he did get released by the Raiders, Crabtree would find a job and likely be a fantasy contributor in 2018, though not near the level fantasy owners have come to expect. This is one of those moves where you do it too soon before it’s too late.
DeSean Jackson (TB)
The move to Tampa Bay was supposed to go smoother than it did for Jackson, as he and Jameis Winston had trouble connecting on the deep ball. While it’s likely to get better with another year, the issue is that both Chris Godwin and O.J. Howard are going to make a bigger impact in year-two. This is going to create fewer opportunities and more volatile fantasy results. It’s at the point where Jackson is a better real-life football player than he is for fantasy football. I’d move him for a second-round draft pick if I was getting a player a liked there.
Kelvin Benjamin (BUF)
This one may be under the obvious category, but he’s not obvious for age reasons. He’s just 27 years old, but has now had multiple knee surgeries and he didn’t move well prior to them taking place. He also went to the Bills, which doesn’t do anything but hurt his value. We saw Alshon Jeffery get a one-year “prove it” deal with the Eagles last year in free agency, something Benjamin will likely fall into after his contract is up in 2018. It shouldn’t shock anyone if Benjamin is out of the league in three years, so if you’re able to get any sort of value out of him, do it.
Rob Gronkowski (NE)
Let me be clear here – I don’t want to trade Gronkowski if I can help it. There’s now been retirement talks in back-to-back years, and Gronkowski has done nothing to silence them rumors, saying that he’s thought about it. There’s nothing like a guy who is worth two first-round picks evaporating from your dynasty squad. We know he’s the best tight end of all-time when on the field, but does he call it quits when Brady does? Even if he sticks around, will he lose some of his luster when Brady retires? You’re playing with fire here and you know the reward, but you should also know the risk.
Jimmy Graham (SEA)
Going from Drew Brees to Russell Wilson wasn’t exactly the worst thing for Graham’s value in fantasy, but we did see a decline in his play, especially last season. Did you know that he failed to top 72 yards in any one game, and topped 61 yards just once? After hearing that, it should come as no surprise that he finished 17th among tight ends in yardage, behind guys like Jason Witten, Austin Hooper, and Benjamin Watson. He’s extremely reliant upon touchdowns, so his landing spot in free agency carries a lot of weight. Fortunately, fantasy players are filled with optimism heading into free agency, so it might be best to sell in case that landing spot is less than ideal.
Delanie Walker (TEN)
When putting a name like Walker on this list, it stings a little bit, simply because he’s been one of the most consistent producers at the position for each of the last five years while with the Titans. However, the idea is to sell before the downward trend, so he’s here. The Titans not only selected Corey Davis in the first-round last year, but they selected both Taywan Taylor and Jonnu Smith in the third-round. They are clearly trying to give Mariota more targets to throw to, and we’ll start to see the decline in his targets very soon. He’s also going to be 34 years old when the seasons starts, so we should naturally start to see a decline in his play as well. It’s best to get top-notch value before the young guys start eating into it.