Dynasty League Football


Dynasty Fantasy Football: 14 Veterans You Need on Your Team

4for4’s John Paulsen shares some veteran players worth targeting at their current dynasty prices.

Kareem Hunt

Editor’s note: This article was written by John Paulsen, Director of Forecasting at 4for4. John is one of the industry leaders in redraft fantasy rankings and projections, finishing in the FantasyPros Top 10 for accuracy in 10 of the last 12 years. You can read all of John’s work at 4for4, as well as all the content at DLF, Fantasy Life and Betsperts by signing up to the Betsperts Bundle.

Full disclosure, I don’t play a ton of dynasty, but I understand the appeal. My job is strictly aimed at the redraft space, though I play in a long-time keeper league, and I use DLF’s dynasty rankings to help set my keepers each season. Now that DLF has joined 4for4 under the Betsperts umbrella, the powers-that-be thought it would be a good idea if I put together a list of veterans who will continue to hold significant value in the short term. Dynasty managers (and even redraft managers, for that matter) tend to be enamored with the new shiny toy, which sometimes leads to market inefficiencies when evaluating productive veterans who are on the back half of their respective careers.

Here are some vets dynasty managers should take a long look at, despite their age.

Aaron Rodgers, QB GB

Rodgers has played just fine without Davante Adams in recent years. In seven games over the last three seasons without his top target, Rodgers has averaged 293 yards passing with 2.71 touchdowns and an 8.7 yards per attempt. It certainly doesn’t help that he lost Adams, but as the back-to-back MVP, he can afford a setback and still post solid fantasy QB1-level numbers. He’s been flirting with retirement, but I expect he’ll play another two or three seasons at a high level.

Derek Carr, QB LV

Carr is currently the QB17 in DLF’s latest ADP. He has finished in the top 15 in three straight seasons and now has Davante Adams to throw to. He doesn’t add much as a runner but it may not matter since he has one of the best receiving corps in the league, featuring Adams, Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow. He should be able to provide fringe-QB1 numbers for the next three seasons, at least.

David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert, RBs CHI

Montgomery has averaged 20+ touches per game in each of the last two seasons and should see that sort of workload again this year. He’ll turn 26 next summer and is set to hit free agency. He could land in a better offense but if he’s re-signed, he’ll continue see big touches. If Montgomery moves on, Herbert could take over as the Bears’ RB1. He had a four-game run in a lead-type role, and turned 87 touches into 388 total yards and a touchdown.

Kareem Hunt, RB CLE

There’s been talk of a trade, but if Hunt remains with the Browns this season, he’ll see his usual change-of-pace touches behind Nick Chubb. Of course, he has RB1 upside if anything were to happen to Chubb and he’ll be a 27-year-old free agent heading into next season, which means he should have two-three years of starter-level play if he lands in a high-workload situation. In the 18 games over the last three seasons where he’s seen at least ten carries, he has averaged 15.9 touches for 79 yards and 0.66 touchdowns per game.

Alexander Mattison, RB MIN

Mattison has delivered RB1/RB2 numbers whenever he’s seen lead back touches. In the 13 games where he’s seen at least ten carries, he has averaged 18.6 touches for 90 total yards and 0.46 touchdowns per game. He’ll be a 24-year-old free agent entering the 2023 season, so it’s a good time to acquire him in case he lands with a team intent on feeding him the ball. He’s currently the RB40 in DLF’s dynasty rankings.

Tony Pollard, RB DAL

Pollard’s current value is significantly higher than Mattison’s, probably because he has a somewhat dependable weekly workload with the Cowboys. He’ll be a 25-year-old free agent heading into next season and should be headed for a big payday. In the 15 career games where he has seen at least ten carries, he has turned 14.4 touches into 85 total yards and 0.40 touchdowns per game.

Darrell Henderson, RB LAR

Henderson will turn 25 this August. He may not see much of a workload this season, but Cam Akers is coming off of an Achilles tear, so who knows. Henderson will be a free agent heading into the 2023 season and is currently coming off of back-to-back seasons with at least 4.5 yards per carry. In the 18 games over the last three seasons where he has seen at least ten carries, he has averaged 16.2 touches for 80 total yards and 0.66 touchdowns per game.

Brandin Cooks, WR HOU

Fantasy managers shouldn’t fear Davis Mills and the Texans when it comes to Cooks. Mills played pretty well as a rookie and targeted Cooks on 28.3% of his attempts in 12 games. Cooks averaged 6.2 receptions for 65.5 yards and 0.42 touchdowns in that span, which translates to 105 catches for 1,113 yards and 7.1 touchdowns over the course of a 17-game season. At 28 years old, he should have at least two-three years of solid production remaining since he’s seemingly locked into a big role in Houston in the short term.

Christian Kirk, WR JAC

The 25-year-old Kirk has averaged at least 44.4 yards per game in each of his four seasons, peaking at 57.8 per game last year. The Jaguars committed big money to Kirk, which shows intent, and he should be locked in as (at least) a top-two option for Trevor Lawrence for the next four seasons. His DLF ranking (WR45) seems a little low given these factors.

Allen Lazard, WR GB

The 26-year-old Lazard had a career-high 513 yards last season, but managed 45.1 yards per game in 2020, which is a 767-yard pace over a 17-game season. He’s unlikely to turn into a 1,200+ yard receiver, but 1,000 yards is a possibility this season as the Packers’ receiving room tries to absorb the loss of Davante Adams. In 2020, his yards per route run (1.84) ranked 32nd out of 101 eligible receivers at Pro Football Focus, so there are indicators that he’s capable of more than we’ve seen from him thus far, and we know that he has the trust of Aaron Rodgers.

Cole Kmet, TE CHI

The Bears didn’t do much this off-season to surround Justin Fields with new weapons, so Kmet will likely serve as the number two target (again) behind Darnell Mooney. He was second on the team in targets (93) last season en route to 60 catches for 612 yards. He failed to find the end zone, partially due to the presence of Jimmy Graham (three touchdowns), who stubbornly absorbed tight end routes in the red zone. Graham is no longer with the team, so Kmet’s red zone involvement should increase in his third season. I was a bit surprised to see Kmet sitting at TE14 in DLF’s dynasty rankings.

David Njoku, TE CLE

Njoku’s 2022 outlook certainly depends on the status of Deshaun Watson, but even if Watson is suspended for the whole season, Njoku might still have a career year due to an uptick in snaps played. The Browns signaled how much they value the athletic Njoku by slapping him with the franchise tag in March. Some may question his upside as he hasn’t cleared 500 yards receiving since 2018 (when he posted 56-639-4), but his career was derailed by a wrist fracture in 2019 and this will be the first time since ‘18 that he’ll be a full-time player. He posted the 11th-highest yards per route run last season, which highlights his efficiency. The Browns are pretty weak at WR2/WR3 as well, so there’s the chance that he establishes himself as the team’s second option after Amari Cooper.

Austin Hooper, TE TEN

Hooper’s production peaked in 2019 when he racked up 75 catches for 787 yards and six touchdowns for the Falcons. He signed a big contract with the Browns, who proceeded to target him less than Atlanta did. Now, at 27 years old, he lands with the Titans, who are scrambling to replace AJ Brown but still have a pretty good quarterback in Ryan Tannehill. Hooper could get back to that 90-ish target level, which is where he was in 2018 and 2019 when he caught 146 passes for 1,447 yards over two seasons.

Dynasty Fantasy Football: 14 Veterans You Need on Your Team
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Mark Boutot
27 days ago

In regards to Mattison… let’s see if I am interpreting this correctly… I know the prevailing wisdom would be to think since Mattison would be a free agent after this season, it would be ‘more’ likely he is the one to move on, since, well, Dalvin Cook is there. However, and this is where I want to see if I am interpreting this correctly: Cook’s contract for 2022 calls for a cap hit of $11,883,625 and a ‘dead cap’ hit of $17,603,816. However, for 2023, Cook’s numbers are a 2023 cap hit of $14,101,272 versus a ‘dead cap hit’ of $6,202,544. SO, it would cost the Vikings more money in regards to this year’s cap to release Cook this season BUT they could actually “save” about $8,000,000 next year, in 2023, by cutting Cook then. Is that correct?

If so, why keep Cook, who at that time would be 28 years old at the start of the 2023 season versus Mattison who would be 25 years old at the start of 2023? Plus, Cook right now has over 1,000 career carries, in addition to nearly 200 career receptions versus Mattison who right now has only 330 career carries and 55 career receptions. Those numbers will obviously go higher during the 2022 season but if Cook is the primary ball carrier, his numbers would increase more.

In addition, 2023 will be the second year with Kevin O’Connell as the head coach and I am excited (and not excited – as a Packers fan, that is) to see how his offense will develop over the next few years. Having said that, I’d want a few pieces of that offense and having said that, I would think they would want the younger (by 3 years) player with less usage (at least 800 less touches) and that would be Mattison. So, I would be trying to acquire Mattison shares whenever I can.
Correct me, please, if I’ve misinterpreted this.

BTW, meant to acknowledge those contract numbers are from spotrac.com

Last edited 27 days ago by Mark Boutot
Wendell Bera
Reply to  Mark Boutot
27 days ago

All the more reason to target him. If Cook is released then he potentialy inherits the starting job in Minnesota otherwise he moves on to a possible starting role somewhere else. A win/win regardless.

Matthew Yarrow
Reply to  Mark Boutot
26 days ago

The reasons you stated for cutting Cook would be the reasons why they keep him. They wouldn’t save 8mill, they would still have to sign Mattison. So they would only save 2-3 mill at best if they did that. They are more likely to do what the Packers did with Aaron Jones and restructure his contract to lower the cap. Pretty sure the Packers changed some into a signing bonus saving almost 4 mill and voiding 1-2 yrs. I assume they plan on keeping Cook and letting Mattison go. They’ll probably just go with Cook, Nwangu, Chandler for 2023.

Mark Boutot
Reply to  Matthew Yarrow
26 days ago

Even if the savings would be minimal, why would they keep a player three years older with more wear on his tires? The difference in 2023 is approximately $8 mil BUT the difference in 2024, when Cook would be 29, would be a cap hit vs. dead cap difference of over $12.5 mil. and then they might restructure that to lower the cap hit again? I would just say it might be smarter to go with the younger, less-used player in Mattison.

Funny you should mention Aaron Jones… after the Packers did their restructure a year (or two) ago, they left the following cap hit for 2023: $20 mil vs. a dead cap of $9.6 mil; for 2024, the cap hit is $16 mil vs, a dead cap of $5.5 mil. Now in 2022, Jones cap hit is $5.9 mil vs a dead cap of $13.6 mil. Of course, they would keep Jones for 2022 but for 2023? The difference of just over $10 mil would be reduced by having to sign Dillon but I don’t think Dillon’s cap hit would be anywhere near $10 mil plus the situation would be similar in that the Packers would be keeping the younger player with less wear and tear.

Matthew Yarrow
Reply to  Mark Boutot
26 days ago

Packers restructured his contract this Feb. Turned almost 4 mill into a signing bonus, lowering his cap hit. It’s setup to get restructured again next offseason and then potentially cut/huge dead cap in 2024. Saints did stuff like that lots with Brees and thats why their deadcap was so big last season or this season. Pushes the money to future years.
You keep Cook over Mattison because Cook is better. Mattison is going to try to get 6+ mill per year. Penny just got 6 mill for 1 season and Fournette got something close to 8-9 mill. Those future years for Cook can be manipulated by paying it out in signing bonuses, so lowering the cap hit but making the deadcap really high.

Mark Boutot
Reply to  Matthew Yarrow
25 days ago

Yeah, I understand the reasoning for all the restructuring but at some point, a team will just have to say enough is a enough with a particular player and bite the bullet or else they will be in extreme cap hell and hamstrung from being able to do anything until the dea cap charge clears.
In regards to Cook being better… well, he is… now. Will he be next year when before the season starts, he will be 28? For example, DLF downgrades someone like Stefon Diggs in dynasty because he is 28 right now. Yet, Diggs, as a WR, theoretically has a longer football shelf-life than a RB like Cook who has averaged over 300 touches the last three seasons and has never played a full season. I’m still confused why they might keep Cook over Mattison for next year (cap charge dictates this year is too late to make any kind of move) when Mattison, when given the chance, has shown he is a capable stand-in. Again, younger and less wear-and-tear and a somewhat lesser cap hit.

Last edited 25 days ago by Mark Boutot
ken conlogue
Reply to  Mark Boutot
22 days ago

long story short.Cook is clearly better and the Vikes believe they are in a SB Window. I want the guy the team thinks gets them to the promised land.

Mark Boutot
Reply to  ken conlogue
22 days ago

I understand Cook is the better player and would be chosen over Mattison 98 (100?) times out of a 100. And for this year, Cook makes the most sense. However, the question I am posing (and I am happy to have the back-and-forth discussion), is that at the time a decision needs to be made, will Cook truly be the obvious choice? All the points I’ve laid out: Cook will be 28 at the start of 2023; should he remain relatively healthy this season, he will have an average of 300+ touches for four consecutive seasons; and, on the healthy point, he has never been able to play a complete season yet in his relatively short career thus far; and also consider his cap situation (his salary for this year is already guaranteed so they have to keep him but 2023 is a different story); and you’ll see why I think we are overvaluing the future Dalvin Cook and undervaluing the future Alexander Mattison. Plus, I’d rather be “out” on a player one year too early than one year too late. Great comments and debate! Thanks!!

ken conlogue
Reply to  Mark Boutot
20 days ago

You’re absolutely correct on all your points. However, looking at it through the prism of trying to win my Championship this year, puts me all in on Cook. I hope he has a big 2022, but I will try to deal him late season if my squad slips. Or get as much as I can in the off-season.
You explain your points w/ great stats, contracts, and projections. I think we agree Mattison has plenty o’ work available in the future of the NFL. Likely his best spot is w/the Vikes.
If I had Mattison, I’d be stoked for his future. I have Cook, so a run at Title is what I’m hoping for. Go ‘DAISIES’!
Thanks for the chat. I’ll be tuning in to your future articles.

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