Every offseason, dynasty owners get caught up in all of the new names from this year’s rookie class, or in the hope that this will be the year that a second or third-year player finally breaks out and becomes the weekly producer everyone predicted. The hard reality is for every one of those hopeful assets that becomes a reliable weekly starter, two or three of them become unstartable for fantasy purposes. So many of these “young” and “high upside” players underperform, become injured, or both. Therefore you must have a backup plan to not be left unprepared.
This is where having “unappealing,” and “aging” players at the end of your roster will help you get a few more wins in the regular season, and quite possibly help you secure a dynasty championship. I could give examples of obvious names like Larry Fitzgerald, LeSean McCoy, Jordy Nelson, or even a 41-year-old Tom Brady.
The problem is everyone already knows these names all too well, and most of your league mates that own these players are planning to use them in their starting lineups. Because of that fact, trying to trade for these players can prove difficult in dynasty because you’ll have to overpay for them because of their name value. We are greedy dynasty competitors; we don’t want to mortgage high round future rookie picks or valuable young players to buy those players in a trade.
Here are some older players that don’t quite have the name cache as those listed above, but will most likely be easier and cheaper to obtain while offering some valuable short-term production for your team 2018 and maybe beyond.
Alex Smith – As most know, the soon to be 34 years old Smith will start the 2018 season under center in Washington for the first time in his career. What most might not know is that Alex Smith is coming off of a league-leading 104.7 QBR rating in 2017, and has thrown for at least 3,100 yards 6 of the last 7 seasons as a starter. Smith has also thrown for more than 20 touchdowns in 3 of his last 5 seasons in the league.
Even with a new team in 2018, expect him to be a more than capable backup quarterback on your roster. He isn’t going to carry your starting lineup and win your week all by himself, but he won’t be the one that loses it either.
Philip Rivers – Here’s another name that isn’t going to cost a significant amount in dynasty leagues, but will offer consistency at the quarterback position in your lineup if need be. Rivers turns 37 in December of this year, but still has two years left on his contract in Los Angeles. Rivers is coming off of throwing for over 4,500 passing yards in 2017 and has surpassed at least 4,000 passing yards 9 of the last 10 years, while also finishing as a top 12 quarterback in total fantasy points 8 of those 10 seasons. You may only get a year or two out of Rivers, but for the price you’d most likely have to pay (which is next to nothing), you’re getting your money’s worth.
DeMarco Murray – The recently turned 30-year-old running back has become an afterthought in fantasy over the past year due to the impending emergence of Derek Henry in Tennessee. He is due $6.5 million in 2018 if he is on the Titans roster at the beginning of the season. For that reason, many would be surprised if he is in Tennessee next year. Gone are the days where DeMarco is an every week RB1 in fantasy, but I do believe he could sign on with a new team this summer and provide valuable fantasy production.
Murray could land a role in a backfield committee or even as a short-term starter for a team that’s in need of a veteran running back. Even more so in PPR formats where has had 50 or more receptions in 3 of the last 5 seasons.
Doug Martin – It’s hard to believe that the Muscle Hamster is already 29 years old. As running backs go, anyone close to 30 gets labeled as “old” by dynasty owners. Martin hasn’t had a massive workload that usually comes with being an older veteran running back though. He’s only averaged 191 rushing attempts over the course of his 6-year career. To give that some perspective, 191 rushing attempts would have only ranked 21st among running back carries in 2017. Martin is entering free agency this summer, and will likely get one more chance to prove that he can be a starting running back in the NFL.
Martin stats are about as up and down as they come, but if you believe in repetition or sequences, this is the year to buy him. He started his rookie career in 2012 with more than 1,400 rushing yards, followed by two disappointing seasons with under 500 rushing yards. He then followed those two seasons with once again posting an impressive number of over 1,400 rushing yards to again follow that up with two more seasons of under 500 rushing yards in 2016and 2017. In no way do I believe Doug Martin will keep that streak going and provide more than 1,400 rushing yards in 2018, but I do believe he will get an opportunity to give valuable fantasy production to your roster for a very low price.
Pierre Garcon – Just one year ago in March of 2017, most were surprised to see how much San Francisco paid Pierre Garcon. Garcon signed a 5-year deal worth just over $47 million as a free agent to play for the 49ers. Garcon will be 32 years old when the season kicks off and will be coming off of a neck injury that forced him to miss half of the 2017 season. Before his injury, 8 games into the season he was on pace for 80 catches and 1,000 yards receiving. There were only 9 wide receivers that achieved both of those numbers last season.
He achieved this with inconsistent quarterback play. Going into next year, he will be operating with a much better quarterback than anyone he played with last season in Jimmy Garoppolo. Garcon shouldn’t cost much in your league given his injury and his age, but the reward will pay off nicely.
Julian Edelman – It’s hard to make a case for a player who is coming of ACL surgery. However, Edelman will be a full year removed from surgery after suffering an ACL tear in the pre-season in 2017. Two months before his injury, Edelman signed a 2-year contract extension that will keep him in New England through the 2019 season. He will soon be 32 years old but offers plenty of value at his current price point.
Edelman had 92 or more catches in 3 of his last 4 seasons before his injury last year. Another positive is that fellow Patriot slot wide receiver Danny Amendola is due to be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Like the previously mentioned Pierre Garcon, Edelman will have a low-value price in trades or drafts, but he will offer much-needed production when the season kicks off.
Jason Witten – The first ballot hall of fame tight end isn’t the player he once was, but he can still offer steady production at a position where that is hard to find. Witten, who will be 36 at the start of the season has 4 years left on his contract in Dallas. I do not expect him to play until he is 40, but I do think that another year or two is reasonable. Witten is more valuable in PPR formats where he has achieved a minimum of 63 catches every year since 2004.
The other positive is you will never have to worry about availability with Jason Witten; he hasn’t missed a game since his rookie year back in 2003. Witten is another player that won’t win you most weeks if you’re forced to start him, but he is a player that can provide PPR production for next to nothing when it comes to trade and draft value.
Thank you for reading. Are there any veterans you’re targeting this offseason? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter @DFF_Maverick.