veterans to DRAFT

Certain veterans can always be had at a discount this time of year and are vital to rounding out a championship roster build. Below are some “vintage” players at their respective positions that should still produce at a high level without costing you a ton of draft capital to acquire them. (Criteria is QB over 32 years old, WR over 30, and RB over 26).

 

Quarterback

Russell Wilson, DEN

Folks seem to be writing off Wilson for some reason. Sure, the veteran just turned 33, but we have to keep in mind that he only played in 14 games in 2021 and was recovering from finger surgery in several of those contests down the stretch.

 

 

Despite all of these factors, Wilson still finished as the QB16. It was the first time in his career that he did not finish as a QB1. His prior worst finish came in 2016 at QB11. The Wisconsin grad has been a model of consistency and a picture of health. This season marked the first time he did not play in an entire slate of games in his career. Now in Denver, it appears it’s time to really let Russ cook.

The price to acquire Wilson appears to have come down quite a bit. Many will be scared off by the age, but with no injury concerns and the way the signal-caller appears to take care of himself lead us to believe there are still at least a few seasons of quality production left, especially with his fresh start in Denver. Take advantage of other people’s “ageism” and buy him on the cheap before the 2022 season kicks off.

 

Matthew Stafford, LAR

 

It was a Hollywood ending to Stafford’s first year in Los Angeles, no pun intended. The former Lion helped bring home the Lombardi trophy for the Rams in 2021. The veteran signal-caller ended the fantasy season as the QB5, tied for a career-best performance that he accomplished way back in 2011.

 


Data from the DLF Yearly Player Data App

 

We know the number one overall pick from 2010 has the talent as evidenced by his stretch of performances from 2011 to 2017. Injuries and all-around poor play from the team set him back from 2018 to 2020. The change of scenery and ability to play with the likes of Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, and Odell Beckham Jr. was just what the doctor ordered.


Data from the DLF Yearly Player Data App

 

Stafford averaged 23.3 points per game and finished as a QB1 in 11 of 17 games, including five in the top-five. The price may be a little high at the moment due to the success of the Rams in 2021, but once the luster wears off and dynasty managers start realizing that Stafford is 34 years old, they will likely be looking to unload him on the cheaper side of things.

 

Kirk Cousins, MIN

 

Another inexpensive quarterback in the 32 years old plus club is Cousins. Year-after-year, the former Washington signal-caller is undervalued. It is never super sexy, it is never bad. It is just really consistent year after year. Since Robert Griffin III went down with an injury for good in 2015, the veteran quarterback has had a QB1 finish every season save 2019, when he finished as the QB18 in 15 games – that year the Michigan State grad only attempted 444 passes for the whole year.

Data from the DLF Yearly Player Data App

 

Looking at the yearly finishes for Cousins versus the first two quarterbacks covered here, you could almost argue he is just as valuable from a dynasty perspective as the others and can be acquired much cheaper than the bigger name counterparts in the age group. Surprisingly enough, the 102nd pick in the 2012 draft has more QB1 finishes than either of the veterans covered here over the past three seasons.

 

Data from thr DLF Yearly Player Data App


It is not a large margin, but one worth noting, especially in one quarterback leagues. We look for consistency, not spikes or dips in points every week. As we mentioned earlier, Cousins will likely never “wow” us but will likely never truly disappoint either. If you have a squad of studs but are lacking at quarterback, send out some low-ball offers and get you a plug-and-play quarterback to use each week until your rookie QBs pan out.

 

Running Backs

Dalvin Cook, MIN

 

We were sort of ready to give up on Cook given his age and injury history last season. However, the hiring of former Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell has renewed some hope in the oft-injured back. Cook has never played more than 14 games in a season, giving major cause for concern. However, despite all of the missed time, the Florida State alum has been a solid fantasy asset.

 

Data from the DLF Yearly Player Data App

 

When the star running back has played in at least 14 games, he has produced an RB1 finish. Even when participating in 13 of 17 games in 2021, Cook managed to finish just outside the top tier at RB15. From a point-per-game perspective, the former Seminole running back finished 11th in 2021 with 16.0 PPR points per contest.

 

Data from the DLF Yearly Player Data App

 

Throughout his career, Cook has been an RB1 in exactly 50% of his games (28-of-56), with another 18 coming as an RB2. Add that all up and we have an RB1-RB2 in 82.14% of his games played. Not too shabby. The ADP is still high for the 41st pick of the 2017 draft, but there should still be a discount available due to age concerns. Also, the emergence of Justin Jefferson may put a bit of fear into current dynasty managers. Overpay if you have to. With the number of missed games, there is a lot tread left on the tires here.

 

Austin Ekeler, LAC

 

If you’re in a league with PPR scoring, there are not too many backs better to roster than Ekeler. However, the gym rat is set to be 27 years old when the 2022 season starts and that will scare off many dynasty managers. Take advantage. Running backs such as Alvin Kamara and Joe Mixon are being selected well ahead of the small school grad and really, they shouldn’t be.

Data from the DLF Startup Dynasty ADP

 

To go a bit further, this all seems a bit strange. While the news that Sean Payton retired and Kamara got arrested came out after this data, it is mind-boggling that players such as Mixon and Barkley are still being drafted ahead of the versatile back. Much like Cousins, the Western State alum is undervalued.

Data from the DLF Yearly Player Data App

 

In two of the past three seasons, Ekeler has bested the others drafted well ahead of him and even held his own in 2016. Justin Herbert is the real deal and Head Coach Brandon Staley has already shown a propensity to be aggressive on offense. There is no reason to be able to acquire Ekeler this cheap in startup drafts and go out and find you that manager who is scared off by his age. It may not be feasible in every league you are in but know your competitors. There is always that “one guy.”

 

Derrick Henry, TEN

 

My, how the mighty have fallen. “King” Derrick Henry for some reason has dropped down to the RB16 range. Perhaps it is a product of “out of sight, out of mind” here. Do managers not realize the veteran finished as the RB23 despite only playing eight games? Sure, he’s 28. However, there are only 1,401 carries on his resume. For comparison, 2016 classmate Ezekiel Elliott has 1,650 carries – that is a difference of 41.5 carries per season or 2.6 per game and a lot of wear and tear.

 

Data Courtesy of DraftBuddy

 

The 2015 Heisman Trophy winner still led the league in points per game from a fantasy perspective in PPR formats. Something worth taking note of is the 6’3” 247-pound bruiser has actually gotten better every year in terms of points per contest. Henry started out averaging just 7.05 and 8.44 points per game while averaging just 7.3 and 11.0 attempts per game early on.

 

Data from the DLF Yearly Player Data App

 

Other than the freak injury suffered in 2021, there are no signs of a decline here. Some athletes are just special and defy the tests of time. The fact he only had 501 carries through his first three seasons in the league should help prolong his career. The years may seem high, but the mileage is not. Take advantage of “ageism” here as we should with Wilson.


Wide Receiver


Robert Woods, TEN

 

It was a short season for Woods in 2021 when he tore his ACL in practice before week ten. The veteran was having a nice year, averaging 13.8 PPR points per game. This ended up matching A.J. Brown and outscoring Amari Cooper. Both players are valued much higher, and rightfully so, but to get the same type of production from a player who costs much less to acquire is fantasy gold.

Data from the DLF Yearly Player Data App

 

The former Bills and Rams wide receiver has been good, not great since joining the Rams, finishing as a WR1 or WR2 the past three seasons before suffering the injury. Now in Tennessee, he should give the Titans a very reliable second option in the passing offense.

Data from the DLF ADP Over Time App

 

Even before the injury, we started to see a decline in ADP and it has now hit an all-time low – take advantage of the discount.

 

Adam Thielen, MIN

 

Another aging veteran with limited mileage is Adam Thielen. The homegrown feel-good story has played just over two seasons worth of games over the past three NFL seasons. To help accentuate the point of how “fresh” a 31-year-old receiver can be, he only started 14 games in his first three seasons with the Vikings and that equates to just 29.1%. Many will scream touchdown regression.

 

Data from the DLF Yearly Player Data App

 

Much like Henry, Thielen was a points-per-game machine despite only playing in 13 contests last year. Would you be surprised to know that the vet only averaged 0.4 fewer points per game than phenom Deebo Samuel? Yes, it is true.

 

Data Courtesy of DraftBuddy

 

New head coach Kevin O’Connell should help free things up for everyone on the offense. While with the Los Angeles Rams, the first-time head coach ran three-wide receiver sets over 80% of the time. Thielen will be on the field, as will stud wideout Justin Jefferson and the up and coming K.J. Osborn. There are still plenty enough targets to go around for “white claw.”

 

Conclusion

 

If you want to compete, you have to pick your poison. You cannot draft strictly for youth and expect to compete. The odds would just not be in your favor that every young player you draft would “hit.” You need some savvy, reliable veterans to complement the huge upside the playmaking youngsters bring to your squad. We pinpointed several here that should provide you the type of performance you need to compete week in and week out in your league. Good luck!

Curious on when significant dates are in the 2022 NFL off-season? Well, look no further!