Value is the name of the game. As a team in contention, it’s important to identify veteran dynasty value to push your squad over the top. Discounted players that provide high-end production at minimal cost can give you an inside track to winning and in this article, I’ll detail some of those player targets for winning on the margins.
This shouldn’t be a huge shock; Ryan Fitzpatrick is fantasy gold. After signing a 1-year $10M contract with the Washington Football team, Fitzpatrick is the expected starter for 2021. Although there’s a chance they bring in younger competition, Washington is committed to winning this season with Fitzpatrick. Although some have questioned Washington’s approach, it’s fantastic for fantasy production.
Fitzpatrick, the 38-year-old journeyman, is one of the most prolific fantasy producers when he starts. For example, in 2019 after taking over the starting role in Week 7 for the Dolphins, he finished as the overall QB2 in the final 11 games. In 2020, he started the first six games of the season and was QB8 through that stretch. This production came with an underwhelming supporting cast in Miami. Now in Washington, Fitzpatrick will have Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel, Antonio Gibson and, Logan Thomas. This group of receiving options should be able to sustain low-end QB1 production from years past.
A quarterback with borderline QB1 production is hard to come by especially in Super-flex. However, the uncertainty at the position long-term in Washington combined with Fitzpatrick’s age creates a valuable opportunity for Super-flex managers. Instead of chasing young quarterbacks with an uncertain path to high-end production, roll with Fitzpatrick.
“You may not like it, but you have to accept it” proclaimed wrestler “Macho Man” Randy Savage in the late ’80s. If I didn’t know the date, I would have assumed he was talking about Andy Dalton’s 2021 production. Dalton is not exactly a sexy player, despite the “red rifle” nickname. Best remembered as the line of demarcation between good and bad, Dalton exists in the fantasy subconscious as “meh.”
I don’t think that tells the full story. Dalton hasn’t been bad (seriously)–in fact, he’s been good. A tumultuous take-over in Dallas resulted in Dalton finally securing the job full-time post-bye week (Week 10.) In the seven games afterward, Dalton was QB12. His production isn’t confined to that small sample either. In 2019, despite not playing in three games, he finished QB15 in points per game (among quarterbacks playing more than eight games). I like quarterbacks who can put up fringe QB1 numbers, even if their nicknames are eerily similar to
the colloquial term for a dog’s erection a child’s gift in A Christmas Story. In this case, I’d be okay if Dalton shot the eye out of the opposing defenses.
Like Fitzpatrick, Dalton is undervalued when assessing the general fantasy landscape. The presumed starter in Chicago, Dalton represents an excellent value in Super-flex as a solid QB2. The weapons in Chicago aren’t what they were in Dallas, but Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney should provide good enough production for Dalton to more than payoff at his current value.
If you asked the average fantasy gamer their thoughts on Julio Jones’ 2020 season, you’d be met with a spectrum starting with ‘ugh’ all the way to absolutely furious. Unreliable last season, Jones, now 32 years old, let down a host of fantasy managers. However, something people seem to forget – Julio Jones is a freak. That isn’t a term I like to throw around, but Jones deserves it. One of the greatest wide receivers in NFL history, Jones had also posted six straight WR7 or better finishes since 2014 prior to the 2020 season. The history of production is obvious.
It’s true Jones struggled with injuries last season and the majority of his career (although committed to playing through most). In 2020, Jones only played in six full games. In those games, he totaled 676 yards and 3 touchdowns. That isn’t the stat-line of a guy who is ‘dust.’ In fact, Jones was as dominant as ever when he played. A nagging hamstring injury in a virus-crunched 2020 season shouldn’t dramatically change our outlook in 2021. Julio Jones still has it and is entirely undervalued.
Evidenced by the games he played; Jones can not only co-exist with Calvin Ridley but also elevate the offense as a whole. In the games Julio played in 2020 (9 total), Matt Ryan averaged 309.7 yards with 7.92 yards per attempt. Without Julio, he averaged 256.3 yards per game and 6.57 yards per attempt. Jones’s contribution to the Atlanta offense to the surrounding cast cannot be understated. Jones can represent a net positive dynasty value for your 2021 rosters.
I love having Robert Woods on my team. If you looked up Robert Woods in the dictionary, ‘dynasty value’ would be a synonym. For years he’s been ranked as a low-end WR2 and has consistently outperformed his market value. His last three seasonal finishes are WR11, WR14 and WR13. A fantastic player out of the University of Southern California, Woods took a while to establish himself in the NFL but since joining the Rams. But he has been nothing but a fantasy stud.
Although Woods is starting to get some of his long-deserved recognition, he is still past the age apex. Woods, a soon-to-be 29-year old, suffers from dynasty manager obsession with age. A consistent high-end WR2, Woods has been cast aside for the “hot new thing.” Having him as a WR2 on your NFL-side roster isn’t sexy when you set your line-up but it will be at the end of the season with another high-end WR2 finish.
Woods, a favorite for those who chase undervalued production, will see a change at quarterback with Matthew Stafford taking over in 2021. Stafford should raise the week-to-week floor and also provide a higher ceiling with mid-WR1 upside. While this may slightly raise his perceived value on-aggregate, the age and overall lack of sexiness in his profile will persist, making him an excellent target for a competing roster.
If you thought Robert Woods wasn’t sexy, wait until I tell you about the Minnesota State University, Mankato product Adam Thielen. Lost in the Justin Jefferson hype, the 31-year-old Thielen was productive last season. A WR10 finish in PPR was overshadowed by the aforementioned rookie phenom but didn’t go unnoticed by those who rostered Thielen last season. A 19% touchdown rate is unsustainable and that’s hard to argue against. Thielen is unlikely to post another 14 touchdown season again in his career but that doesn’t negate his value as a veteran asset.
The Vikings establish the run, it’s a well-established fact. However, you can only run so much when your defense is close to the bottom of the league in every category. Last season, Minnesota ranked 29th in points per game against and 27th in yards against. They are an awful defensive team with no significant changes heading into 2021. As much as the Kubiaks love running the ball, it will be hard to pull off in 2021, at least to the extent they envision. 2020’s 54% pass-to-run ratio should go up in this season with the deteriorating Viking defense.
This is where Thielen comes in. The Vikings are a concentrated passing offense with 48% of the targets going to the top two WRs in 2020. Although the draft hasn’t happened, there isn’t much to be excited about behind Thielen and Jefferson heading into 2021. Regardless of the rush attempts, the WR1 and WR2 in Minnesota will get their opportunity to produce. Even as the second receiving option for the Vikings, Thielen should see a good chunk of volume given the game script and consolidated target share and pay off as a dynasty value.
Conclusion – Taking Advantage of Dynasty Value
Chasing aging veterans in dynasty is one of the best ways to get cheap production on your roster. Although not specifically mentioned above, this is easier to accomplish at the quarterback and wide receiver position as running back lends itself to younger production. So although this article only mentions some ways to capture dynasty value, those are the positions to target as both positions favor a slower decline due to the physical toll and technique involved. That being said, regardless of the position, chasing veteran values can make or break your dynasty roster in 2021.