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 - June 14, 2022