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Dynasty Veterans to Target for 2021 Contenders (Fantasy Football)

by Mike Tagliere | @MikeTagliereNFL | Featured Writer
Mar 15, 2021

There are too many articles out there telling you to sell your aging players. Heck, there are times where I’ll be doing my Dynasty Trade Value Chart and I feel dirty because it’s extremely difficult to get the values correct when it all depends on where your dynasty team is at that moment in time.

Did you trade away all your proven production in exchange for youth and/or draft picks? Well, then you’re clearly in rebuild mode, though rebuilds can happen much faster than some think in fantasy football. If you’re someone who contended for the title in 2020, you might not want to unload your aging players.

Too many dynasty players trade away proven production for a draft pick that “might” work out. If you want to take advantage of this loophole and take home that championship in 2021, this article is for you. By doing this, you’re taking the route the Tampa Bay Buccaneers did in 2020, which was adding tons of proven veteran talent. They may not have a very good team in a few years, but when you’re holding that trophy up, it doesn’t really matter.

The ADP used in this data was provided my Dynasty League Football based on their series of February startup drafts.

Julio Jones (WR – ATL) Current value: WR27
Jones might as well be an evergreen staple in this article. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people talk about selling him, and his price has now fallen to WR27 in startup drafts (WR3 range), which is just flat-out disrespectful. Sure, he’s 32 years old. Did you also know that he averaged a career-high 11.34 yards per target in 2020? Or how about that he ranked fourth in yards per route run? Over the course of his career, Jones has been a WR1 in 41.8 percent of his games. There isn’t another receiver who’s posted higher than 38.7 percent since I started tracking the stat in 2000. If you’re competing, Jones is a receiver you should be trading for given the perception of his value.

Odell Beckham (WR – CLE) Current value: WR40
I legit thought I found an error in the database when I saw Beckham being drafted as the No. 40 wide receiver. I get it, Beckham has failed to live up to his top-three projection we had for him a few years back, but now he’s not even a starter? C’mon. Despite struggling in 2019 with the Browns, Beckham has posted WR2 or better numbers in 61.0 percent of the games in his career, which trails only Michael Thomas, Julio Jones, and Antonio Brown since 2000. Prior to getting hurt in Week 7, Beckham was the No. 16 wide receiver through six weeks of 2020. We watched Baker Mayfield grow as the year went on while learning Kevin Stefanski’s offense, and that propelled both Jarvis Landry and Rashard Higgins into the top-30 conversation over the final six games. Beckham is still just 28 years old and is extremely undervalued right now.

Aaron Jones (RB – GB) Current value: RB18
I don’t think people realize just how good Jones is at football. I do an article every year that highlights which running backs were better/worse than expected, which factors in where they received the ball on the field and what their projected output was on those touches. Jones finished as the No. 4 running back on that list in both 2018 and 2019, scoring 109.2 more fantasy points than the average running back would’ve in those two seasons. Does playing in Green Bay alongside Aaron Rodgers help his efficiency? Sure, but are we also going to ignore the fact that his touches were limited in the offense? He’s averaged 17.8 touches per game the last two years, a number that is easily repeatable whether he stays in Green Bay or goes elsewhere. Someone is going to pay him a lot of money, and it’s not going to be for him to receive less touches. *Note* Jones signed a four-year deal with the Packers on 3/14, which will certainly bring his perceived value much higher and make him much tougher to acquire in a trade.

Joe Mixon (RB – CIN) Current value: RB19
I’ll be the first to tell you that 2020 was a frustrating year for Mixon, but the future remains bright. Not only did he sign a long-term deal to be alongside Joe Burrow, but he’ll also receive some security up front on the offensive line this offseason. There are also some who seem to forget what Mixon did the three games prior to his injury, as he racked up 81 touches (27.0 per game), 344 total yards (114.7 per game), and four touchdowns. Burrow’s mobility is surely going to regress with his knee injury, which will also ensure more carries around the goal line to Mixon. He’s a 24-year-old three-down running back who’s tied to what should be a high-scoring offense for years to come. Trading for him wouldn’t be just a short-term solution.

Jonnu Smith (TE – TEN) Current value: TE15
Some won’t view Smith as a “buy” for 2021 contenders, but I’m confident that he’s someone who can help you win a championship in 2021 without the cost of top-tier tight end pricing. Many are frustrated with Smith’s lack of volume/opportunity, but that’s about to change (even if he remains in Tennessee). Not many realize that tight ends generally take 3-5 years to truly break out in the NFL, and that’s evidenced by the fact that only Rob Gronkowski has finished as a top-three fantasy tight end at younger than 25 years old. Smith just turned 25 in August and has never seen more than 65 targets in a season. He hasn’t been given the opportunity to break out. If he signs with a new team, it’ll be because they have a void at the tight end position. If he remains in Tennessee, it’ll be with a new offensive coordinator. It’ll also be without Adam Humphries and potentially Corey Davis. Remember last year when Smith was a top-three tight end over the first month? That’s when A.J. Brown was out of the lineup freeing up targets.

Tyler Higbee (TE – LAR) Current value: TE21
I thought many would move the needle on Higbee once the Rams acquired Matthew Stafford, but seeing the TE21 price tag, they haven’t. It’s not just Stafford that should increase his value. In fact, that’s not the primary reason you should be buying Higbee. The main reason is the departure of Gerald Everett, who was out of the lineup/very limited during the time Higbee posted 522 yards and two touchdowns over a five-game stretch in 2019. It’s been a different story for Higbee when Everett is in the lineup, as he’s topped 60 yards just three times over his five-year career with Everett playing his usual role. When you combine the Rams cap situation (it’s bad) with the departure of Everett and arrival of Stafford, the arrow is pointing way up.

Sterling Shepard (WR – NYG) Current value: WR67
It blows my mind how much fantasy players ignore Shepard, and now that he’s 28 years old, they’re practically giving him away as the 67th wide receiver off the board, behind guys like Darnell Mooney and second/third-tier rookies. Removing the game he was hurt in the first half against the Bears, do you know how many games there’ve been where Shepard has seen fewer than six targets over the last two years? One. That’s volume you can’t find in the non-elite tier of wide receivers. It’s possible the Giants add another pass-catcher in the draft this year, but that won’t be a bad thing. With the release of Golden Tate, Shepard should go back into the slot where he excelled earlier in his career. He’s still yet to have a season where he’s finished averaging fewer than 11.4 PPR points per game, which is worth a heck of a lot more than WR67.

Carson Wentz (QB – IND) Current value: QB22
There are too many people writing Wentz off after a bad year in Philadelphia. What about the three prior years? He played 40 games over that stretch and finished with QB1-type numbers in 23 of them, or 57.5 percent. Does that not sound appealing to you? Just know that only Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, Andrew Luck, and Aaron Rodgers have higher than a 57.5 percent QB1 rate over their careers. Wentz is returning to play under Frank Reich, the coach who guided him to 54 touchdowns and just 14 interceptions in 24 games during the 2017 and 2018 seasons. On top of that, the Colts have a top-five offensive line for Wentz to go and play behind. You know, the one that made Philip Rivers look like he could play again after being left for dead in Los Angeles? Over Rivers’ last 11 games with the Colts, he threw for 2,942 yards, 20 touchdowns, and six interceptions. Wentz is a great buy-low for those who are contenders.

Honorable mentions: Hayden Hurst (ATL) Current value: TE23, Tom Brady (TB) Current value: QB23

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Mike Tagliere is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @MikeTagliereNFL.

Dynasty, Featured, Featured Link, Keepers, NFL, Trades, Undervalued