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Dynasty Trade Advice: Veterans to Target (2023 Fantasy Football)

Dynasty Trade Advice: Veterans to Target (2023 Fantasy Football)
cameraDynasty Trade Advice: Veterans to Target (2023 Fantasy Football)

Although the term “veteran” is often used to supplant “old” when describing an NFL player, anybody beyond a rookie is technically a vet. That differs from a vested veteran, which is when a player accrues four years of experience. It’s a muddy term, but in the dynasty community it’s mostly irrelevant. The fear of an age-cliff lives at the forefront of every dynasty manager’s mind. Running backs quickly turn from a generational talent to a declining asset. Wide receivers are the next great thing until they pull a hamstring.

In other words, anybody over the age of 24 is old in the dynasty community. Below are some of my favorite old players to target right now.

Dynasty Rookie Draft Kit

Dynasty Veterans to Target for Contenders

Miles Sanders (RB – CAR)

The former Offensive Rookie of the Year recently traded in the wings on his helmet for a headshot of Sir Purr. While Miles Sanders’ value has been greatly debated since signing with the Carolina Panthers, the common consensus appears to signal a sizeable ding in his fantasy value and appeal. On one hand, Sanders is departing a strong situation in Philadelphia where he ran behind an elite offensive line. On the other hand, he saw just 26 targets go his way last season and ceded 20 rushing attempts from inside the five-yard line to QB Jalen Hurts.

Regardless, comparing Sanders in Charlotte to Sanders in Philadelphia is more of a red herring than a sensible approach to the matter. The more apt comparison is Sanders in Charlotte versus Sanders in Atlanta, Tampa Bay, or another potential free agent destination. Sure, Miami would have been ideal, and Detroit has its appeal, but Carolina has its perks. The roster boasts a strong offensive line, as well as a high-end defense, and will presumably add a talented rookie quarterback. That type of cocktail typically leads to a ground-and-pound approach. Their motto is ‘keep pounding’ after all. Add in a quality offensive head coach and a lack of running back talent behind Sanders, pending the draft, and there’s potential here for a workhorse role.

Alexander Mattison (RB – MIN)

One of the more productive backup running backs in the league, Alexander Mattison’s free agency provided him an opportunity to seize a starting role once and for all. Instead, he resigned with the Vikings to return as their backup running back. Or did he? Dalvin Cook‘s cap hit is just over $14 million in 2023 and $15.6 million in 2024 but the Vikings can save nearly $11 million by cutting Cook post-June 1.

It’s reasonable to wonder why there wasn’t more of a market for Mattison, but he netted $3.5 million per year with a $2.5 million signing bonus. It’s tough to envision Minnesota paying $20 million combined for the two of them. If they had plans for Cook, they certainly could have found a more cost-effective backup plan. Mattison didn’t start a single game last year, but in his four starts in 2022 he averaged 21.7 PPR points. The assumption is that Mattison faced a limited market and reclaimed his job as a backup. He’s worth a cheap investment for spot starts, but if he takes the Vikings starting job outright, he can take your dynasty squad to the next level.

Dak Prescott (QB – DAL)

The risk with Dak Prescott is obvious; he’s missed 17 games across the last three seasons. The encouraging aspect, however, is that his injury history isn’t all that long. He suffered an ankle fracture and dislocation in 2020 when he missed 11 games, a calf strain in 2021 leading to one game missed, and was out five games in 2022 with a thumb fracture. In other words, he’s had some tough injuries, but his time missed has come in chunks rather than a game here and there for various issues.

Because of the missed time, it’s easy to forget how effective Prescott has been when he’s managed a full season. In his four full seasons, Dak has finished as the QB6 (rookie season), QB11, QB10, and QB2. He played all but one game in 2021 and finished as QB7, which is where he averages out across those five seasons.

The Cowboys’ offense will miss Dalton Schultz, but the addition of Brandin Cooks provides an element they’ve been lacking. This also allows Michael Gallup to settle back in as the team’s WR3, and he will be healthier than last season. The subtraction of Ezekiel Elliot won’t hurt Prescott’s passing volume either. I love Tony Pollard, and the team may add another back beyond Ronald Jones as well, but they will no longer feel the pressure of ensuring they make good on Elliot’s gigantic contract by feeding him the ball. Dak has never reached 600 pass attempts in a season, but this could be the year. Going as QB11 in dynasty startups, the 30-year-old is certainly worth the price for contenders.

TJ Hockenson (TE – MIN)

Generally, you either have a guy or you don’t when it comes to tight end. If you didn’t roster Travis Kelce, Darren Waller, Mark Andrews, or George Kittle over the last few years, you didn’t really have a guy. Things are beginning to shift at the position, however, as TJ Hockenson climbed his way up to TE2 at the final whistle of the 2022 season.

Hockenson posted many career highs last season, including a 23.8% target rate and 19 red zone targets. As a result, his 914 yards were nearly 200 more than his best season prior to last year and his six touchdowns tied his 2020 mark. Excluding the blowout win against the Bears in the final week of the season when he played less than 50% of the snaps, Hockenson saw no less than six targets in a game with Minnesota. He averaged 9.4 targets per game which is good enough to hit 160 over a full season. His highest season target total was 101 going into last year. This insane volume came with Adam Thielen still donning the purple and gold, and while the vacated targets argument is flawed, Hockenson will likely be a focal point of the offense this season.

It’s pretty simple, if you don’t have a guy at tight end, you should be chasing Hockenson.

Kadarius Toney (WR – KC)

At this point in time, you know the deal with Kadarius Toney, but would it really be a true “buy” article from me without mentioning his name? If he can stay healthy and keep his head in the game, he’s an electric playmaker and can be a huge factor for the Chiefs. It’s a big ‘if’ but the price of admission has shrunk low enough to enquire. Andy Reid said at the NFL Combine, before JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman signed elsewhere, that he expects Toney (and Skyy Moore) to play a bigger role this season.

If there’s anywhere that Toney can thrive it’s Kansas City, especially with a full offseason to work with. That’s not just because of Patrick Mahomes, but also Andy Reid. He was able to utilize Toney on the ground and with quick passes better than anybody in New York could. If you’re looking to flip a mid-round rookie pick for a player who could break out this year, keep Kadarius Toney on your short list.

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