Dynasty Veterans To Target For 2022 Contenders (Fantasy Football)
When seeking out advice for your dynasty fantasy football teams, the one thing you are likely told most is youth over everything. While acquiring young players is crucial to building a winning roster long-term, counting out veteran players can be a critical mistake. A good roster is a balance of both. You can often take advantage of the youth over everything attitude to acquire players that can propel your team to the sacred league championship without mortgaging your future.
These veterans are potentially high upside players you can roster for a reasonable price that won’t bankrupt your team in the future. While you won’t find these on the trading block for dirt cheap, you’ll find the cost to acquire them is worth what you should be getting in return and won’t deplete your roster.
After injuries plagued Adam Thielen in the back half of the 2021 season, some people wonder if we have seen the end of his WR1 relevance in fantasy football. Given that he will be 32-years-old entering the 2022 campaign, it’s a fair question. Justin Jefferson is also fresh off an overall WR4 season and is primed to be a possible overall WR1 in the coming seasons. None of this bodes well for Thielen’s long-term outlook in dynasty formats.
So then, why would you want to acquire him? Though he is approaching that over-the-hill wide receiver age, Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins recently signed a four-year contract extension with the team. Thielen is a favorite red-zone target of Cousins, and it shows. Despite having just five targets past Week 12 in 2021, he finished fourth overall among wide receivers in PPR red zone fantasy points with 64.5. Also, through the first 12 weeks of this past season, Thielen was the overall WR7.
Minnesota has been very quiet in free agency, and with only $2.4 Million in cap space at the moment, they are unlikely to make any significant moves, especially at wide receiver. Thielen should figure into this offense again if healthy and continue to see substantial red zone targets. If you’re a contending squad, you should jump at the chance to acquire him for a 2022 3rd Round rookie draft pick and a WR3 along the lines of Tyler Boyd or Rondale Moore.
What would an NFL offseason be without drama in Cleveland? It would feel weird to say the least. This offseason hasn’t disappointed. First, the news that the Dallas Cowboys had traded Amari Cooper to the Cleveland Browns for a 5th-round pick in the 2022 NFL draft. Then the Browns organization very publicly entered the Deshaun Watson trade sweepstakes, alienating current quarterback Baker Mayfield and publicly calling him out. It was drama fit for a week of the long-time soap opera “Days of our Lives.”
The quarterback drama and mishandling of the whole situation leaves a lot of questions, namely who will be the quarterback in 2022. Mayfield has publicly requested a trade, so the assumption is he is on his way out the door. That could have you down on Cooper, which is fair. An organization that seems to be lost and without a clear leader on the field seems like a risky proposition, and that’s before you even mention what we all saw happen with Odell Beckham Junior. His value in dynasty is about as low as it will go, but should it be? Probably not.
Despite an underwhelming 2021 campaign where he finished as the overall PPR WR27, there is no reason to believe he cannot return to a high-end WR2 in 2022. Cleveland doesn’t have much in the way of receiving options outside of deep threat Donovan Peoples-Jones and tight-ends David Njoku and Harrison Bryant. On volume alone, Cooper stands to be a steal in PPR formats. If you believe your team is in a position to contend, I would recommend kicking the tires on a trade for Cooper. Given he is only 27-years-old, I would be willing to part with a few 2nd-round rookie picks and a veteran along the lines of Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
When we started the NFL free agency speculation a few months back, it sounded more and more like Melvin Gordon would be back in Denver for the 2022 season. Now that free agency is open, it’s become clear that will not be the case. This is good news for Gordon’s fantasy outlook heading into 2022. While it does seem he will take his time finding a good fit, it stands to reason that Gordon will land somewhere with an opportunity to be a feature back.
If this past season was any indication, he still has a lot to offer whatever franchise he lands with. Despite being in an almost evenly split backfield with rookie Javonte Williams, Gordon managed to finish as the overall RB21 and was 12th in red zone fantasy points among running backs with 63.7. While not showcased nearly as much in Denver as in his time with the Chargers, Gordon is an exceptional pass-catching back. In 2017, Gordon had 58 catches on 83 targets and four receiving touchdowns en route to an overall RB5 finish. If he can provide even half that production in the passing game to go along with his rushing work, he will be a steal wherever he lands.
It’s not unreasonable to imagine Gordon having a stellar 2022 campaign in the right situation. His ceiling could be as high as a mid-RB1 if his landing spot fits his style of play. I suspect we see an increase in his receiving targets this coming season, even if he lands back in Denver. For a contender, he is someone you will want to pursue. At his current value, you should be able to acquire him for something in the range of an early 2023 2nd round rookie draft pick. That’s a small price for someone who can provide depth and high upside for your championship push.
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Nate Polvogt is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Nate, check out his archive and follow him @NatePolvogt.