Dynasty Veterans to Target for Contenders (2020 Fantasy Football)
There’s a general tendency in dynasty leagues to accumulate young talent so they can grow with your team and succeed for multiple years. People often overspend on young players — even if they are not as talented as established veterans — because they see age, not past production, as the ultimate commodity.
Coinciding with this tendency, dynasty owners also tend to undervalue their aging talent. They strive to get as much value as they can out of older players before they fall off of a cliff, typically selling them for less than they are actually worth. Most of the time, however, these dynasty veterans are extremely productive and would go quite high in redraft leagues.
Contenders can’t only stress about the future. You need to win a title now. Therefore, acquiring aging veterans for a championship run can be a savvy move to capitalize on your leaguemates’ valuation fallacies and your closing championship window.
I’ve listed several veterans at each position that could be acquired for a modicum of their actual worth; they may not have long-term value, but their short-term worth is extremely high and could ultimately lead to a fantasy title.
Drew Brees (NO)
For all intents and purposes, Drew Brees has one year left in the NFL. After contemplating retirement and ultimately resigning with the New Orleans Saints this offseason, it is well known that he is not long for this league. Yet, his production at age 41 cannot be ignored. Brees finished as the QB8 in PPG last season, recording 21 or more points in five of his last six games.
In his nine full games, Brees finished outside the week’s top 12 only twice. While many were concerned that his performance would fall off down the stretch, he quelled that fear by putting up his best outings during the fantasy playoffs. In Weeks 14-16, Brees finished as the QB1, QB3, and QB7, respectively. If you need a reliable quarterback for a one-year run, especially in SuperFlex, you could get Brees for a pittance of what he’s worth in 2020.
Matthew Stafford (DET)
Many are down on Matthew Stafford after he missed half of 2019 due to a back injury. He is the QB13 in ECR and has a current ADP of QB13 in dynasty startups, behind guys like Baker Mayfield and Jared Goff. Despite Stafford’s age and durability concerns, he’s a veteran whom contenders in SuperFlex formats should target.
Stafford finished as the QB4 in PPG last season and delivered five top-six performances in his eight games played. He delivered his best games before the injury, as he scored 24+ points apiece in Weeks 7-9. Stafford is still capable of delivering elite efforts and providing a positional advantage at quarterback. He’s a cheap veteran to target and will be a reliable performer for your team as he recovers from injury.
Le’Veon Bell (NYJ)
Even though Le’Veon Bell performed below expectations for a player who was drafted in Round 1 last year, I can’t fault him for much of the extenuating circumstances. After a year out of football, he played behind a decimated offensive line for most of the season and suffered from the ineptitude of head coach Adam Gase. Despite his age, he figures to be a solid fantasy asset for a contender.
Bell totaled the third-highest snap percentage, attempted the 11th-most rushes, and had the seventh-most targets among running backs. He experienced massive opportunity and should see positive regression next season. His floor is an RB2, but with upgrades to the Jets offense, he could become a fringe RB1. At his current dynasty value, you could probably acquire him for a late first or early second-round rookie pick.
Mark Ingram (BAL)
Mark Ingram defies logic. In an age where older running backs are less likely to see RB1 volume and fantasy finishes, he has become the outlier. Since 2016, running backs with six or more years in the league have finished as an RB1 only eight times; Ingram did it three of those times (2016/2017/2019). He is on the wrong side of 30 and likely has just one year left as the lead runner for Baltimore, but he could win you a championship next season.
Ingram finished as the RB9 in PPR in 2019, accumulating five top-12 performances while finishing in the top-20 in attempts, yards, and touchdowns among running backs. His age and status with the Ravens have made him virtually untradeable, as few dynasty owners want to acquire the 30-year-old, declining running back at his current value. You could probably grab Ingram on the cheap for one more year of top-15 production.
Marlon Mack (IND)
Whoever assumes the lead back role for the Indianapolis Colts is going to succeed. Right now, all signs point to Marlon Mack. He finished as the RB22 last year after missing three games, scoring 16+ PPR points in nearly half of his outings. The Colts showed a strong commitment to Mack, giving him back the starting job despite Jonathan Williams performing well in relief.
With Mack having only one year remaining on his contract and the Colts in flux at quarterback, he does not garner much dynasty value. He’s the 50th overall player in ECR with an RB17 ADP in dynasty startups. While his future in Indianapolis is in doubt, Mack is slated to start in 2020. He should be a solid veteran to target if you are contending next season.
Julio Jones (ATL)
Julio Jones is the best wide receiver that everyone is reluctant to take in dynasty. After finishing the year as the WR4 in PPR, many have been attempting to salvage any value out of Jones while he is still performing at a high level. He is entering his 10th season in the NFL and is currently 31 years old. Yet, nothing suggests Jones will be dropping off any time soon.
Jones had the fourth-most targets, fourth-most catches, and second-best fantasy finish of his career. He’s a target machine and has stayed relatively healthy during his time in Atlanta, only missing three games in his last five seasons. Dynasty owners who are rebuilding are panicking with Jones and will ship him off for less than he’s worth. He’ll be a perennial WR1 for at least another year or two.
Marvin Jones (DET)
Kenny Golladay may be the new hotness in Detroit, but Marvin Jones has been stellar over the past few seasons. Despite only playing 13 games last year, he still finished as a top-24 wide receiver in PPR. He received four or more targets in every game and ranked 15th in fantasy points per target. Yet, at 30 years old, Jones is being undervalued in dynasty leagues with a current ADP of WR51 in startups.
He still has the capability of finishing as a top-12 wide receiver, given he was the WR12 when last playing a full season in 2017. Stafford should be healthy next season, and Detroit will see consistent passing volume in an offense that ranked 10th in passing yards last season. People are paying a premium for Golladay, but Jones has just as much upside, albeit short-term.
Julian Edelman (NE)
Julian Edelman is almost free in dynasty leagues. The soon-to-be 34-year-old wide receiver put up an incredible fantasy performance last season, finishing as the WR5 and one of four wide receivers to see 100 or more catches. He has been a PPR mainstay, finishing as a top-20 wide receiver every year in which he played a full season.
Yet the uncertainty surrounding Tom Brady’s future and Edelman’s age have completely turned off most dynasty owners to the slot receiver. People — especially those in a rebuilding stage — are giving him away in the hopes of receiving some modicum of value. Contending teams could likely acquire Edelman for a very low cost, as his ADP in dynasty startups is WR42. If you need a solid wide receiver, Edelman is one of the most productive assets going for the cheapest price.
Zach Ertz (PHI)
Zach Ertz is on the precipice of falling out of the elite tight end ranks. This is not due to his performance, but more to his age and competition in Philadelphia. At age 32, Ertz was the TE2 in PPR last season, ahead of young studs Mark Andrews and Darren Waller. His teammate, Dallas Goedert, finished as the TE10.
Despite delivering a top-12 performance at the position nine times last year, fourth-most among tight ends, Ertz is getting sold in dynasty leagues out of fears of a Goedert usurping. He won’t be cheap by any means, but he still provides a positional advantage at tight end for at least one more year. If you are looking for an advantage at the spot, Ertz is worth his slightly discounted price.
Greg Olsen (SEA)
After a successful run in Carolina, Greg Olsen is heading to Seattle to play one more year with the Seahawks. Many dynasty owners are hurriedly trying to sell Olsen now, as he is likely to retire next season. However, he provides a solid Band-Aid at the tight end position and could be a cheap option for a contending team.
Olsen finished as the TE13 last year despite playing only 13 games, most of which were without Cam Newton. He provided a top-12 performance in nearly one-third of those contests and could see his stock rise with the Seahawks, who targeted tight ends over 20% of the time last season. The one-year rental could be a placeholder for a contender who needs a reliable, top-12 tight end.