Do you like ACTION? DRAMA? TRADES? Of course you do. That’s why you play dynasty fantasy football. It’s the most in-depth, cerebral version of this game we have. The playing field isn’t even. And that’s by design. It’s the classic story of the HAVES and the HAVE NOTS, though there is a twist - they are forced to work together. The Goliaths of today trade their rookie draft picks to the rebuilding Davids who will rise to compete at a later date. Those that don’t take advantage of this system are forced to linger in mediocrity for all of eternity. And the cruel cycle repeats.
So we’re here today to help facilitate these crucial transactions. To scour the dynasty wide receiver rankings for the optimal candidates to change hands from tanking team to emerging champion. Obviously, rebuilding teams will want to keep younger guys like Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase, Ceedee Lamb etc. And some names encroaching on 30 like Stefon Diggs, Tyreek Hill, and Davante Adams have enough in the tank to command a higher price. So we’re going to focus on some wide receivers that aren’t likely to help the rebuilding team when they are ready to compete but COULD be that last piece to get the competing team over the hump. Trades that could be “win-win” for both parties.
For the sake of this article, I’ve reviewed a ton of different dynasty sources like DLF Startup ADP, the industry ranking focused PeakedInHighSkool’s Dynasty Trade Charts, the consumer survey thought experiment KeepTradeCut’s Valuation System etc. to get a handle on what the general market might be. Then I considered my own win-now teams and what aging players I might be willing to target. First, here’s a quick list of ones that are a little more obvious that don’t need as much explanation. Naturally, if you can get these guys at a reasonable price then you do it. These prices will be based on single QB leagues but in SF you can realistically just move the price down a tier (mid 1st = late 1st and so on). Again, there is no consensus on price and no exact science to negotiating but this is a ballpark of what I believe is fair based on market data. If you see a name and think “I would pay that immediately” then good - go do that.
The age apex for wide receivers is generally 26-29 years old but we know a number of elite players have played great well into their 30s. Heck, a number of them had their best seasons at 30+. Here’s just a brief list.
The guys above could all fit that category but they also will cost you a first or early second round rookie pick where you could potentially just draft a WR with an immediate impact. So instead, we are going to dig deeper on some guys that can be had for cheaper. Players that could slot right into your lineup and help put you over the top right now. So let’s get into it.
Keenan Allen - Age 30
This is my favorite type of guy to add. The rumors were SWIRLING that Keenan Allen could be a cap casualty. And that type of talk has an effect on price in dynasty. A disproportionate effect compared to the more recent news where GM Tom Telesco proclaimed firmly that “Keenan Allen isn’t going anywhere”. He then promptly turned around and reworked Allen’s deal to lessen the cap hit this year and move money to next year - which is often done before a longer-term extension is worked out. If you actually read all the quotes from his talk with Good Morning Football, Telesco said that Keenan Allen is “Our Andre Reed. He’s our Charlie Joiner.” Andre Reed played until he was 36 years old and Charlie Joiner joined the Chargers at 29 years old THEN played 11 years for them. Sounds like a guy who believes Keenan Allen has a lot of football left to play if you ask me.
Let’s get the negatives out of the way first. He’s 30 now but he’s actually turning 31 at the end of this month. And he’s missed at least one game with injury in three straight seasons. The good news on that stuff? We know that guys can be productive past 30 and we know that guys can get injured one year and then be healthy the next. And, with Allen, it’s not like we are talking about someone coming back from a season-ending injury here. He got hurt early then came back and finished STRONG. He returned from injury in Week 11 and had 79 targets over the last eight games - only Justin Jefferson had more over that span with 83. To finish off the year, in the playoff game vs. Jacksonville, Allen was targeted 13 times.
The positives? Well, you already have a great quarterback and a revamped offensive line. It’s the same weapons unless Austin Ekeler’s trade request is granted (which would honestly help the targets for Allen anyway). And they have moved on from offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi in favor of Kellen Moore. If you took all the QBs who attempted at least 150 passes last year, Herbert’s average depth of target (aDot) under Joe Lombardi was 6.9 yards which would have ranked QB38 of 40 qualified players. Meanwhile, Kellen Moore was accused by Mike McCarthy of scoring too fast so the defense couldn’t rest. That sounds pretty good for fantasy football.
Market Price: Mid to Late 2nd
What We Would Pay: Early 2nd, Late 1st
Tyler Lockett - Age 30
Rumors can get you a discount, as we discussed with Keenan Allen. You know what else can get you a discount? Labels. In this case, the label of “WR2”. And I don’t mean “WR2” as in a WR2 in fantasy football. Because virtually every league has AT LEAST two starting WR spots and a flex spot - so WR2 in fantasy is a great thing. I’m talking about the “WR2” label given in real-life football. Which, honestly, doesn’t really exist since teams use terms like split end, flanker, and slot. They don’t just sit around and say “okay I’m the WR1 and you’re the WR2 and Mark you are WR5” (but that’s a discussion for a different day). For this discussion, let’s look at how the perception of being the “WR2” behind DK Metcalf has affected Lockett’s perceived value. Here’s a look at Lockett’s redraft ADP in PPR vs how he finished since DK Metcalf came into the league.
He’s beaten it every time. Which can’t even be said for Metcalf himself. In fact, even playing one less game, Lockett finished higher than Metcalf in 2022.
That’s not to say we don’t like DK Metcalf (there will be a full article on that). We like both of these guys. Just like how we like Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. Or Tee Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase. Or Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Or DeMaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. Or Antonio Brown and Juju Smith-Schuster. You get the point. This is one of the toughest players in the league (he’s missed three games in his eight-year career so out of a possible 137 games he’s played in 134). He was just WR13 in PPR last season. The same QB is coming back. And he’s cheap. Go get him.
Market Price: Mid to Late 2nd
What We Would Pay: Early 2nd
Michael Thomas - Age 30
I know exactly what you are going to say because I’ve already seen it all over Twitter and Reddit. “He’s just going to get hurt again”. “He’s burned me before”. “He’s washed”. And I think we can all admit that’s within the range of outcomes. But what a lot of folks REFUSE to admit is the other end of that range. The range of outcomes where Julian Edelman tears his ACL at 29 but battles back and has his best season at age 33. The range of outcomes where Steve Smith misses games in five straight seasons from age 27 to 31 then has 1,394 receiving yards at age 32 (and multiple 1,000 yard seasons after that). The range of outcomes where Jerry Rice tears his ACL at 35 then plays another SEVEN seasons. We are ignoring the possibility that Michael Thomas, a great player, DOESN’T get hurt in 2023. Or 2024. And maybe he’s still pretty darn good.
Part of the misconception here is that some folks seem to believe he got hurt in 2020 and hasn’t been back since - which isn’t actually the case. Here’s the timeline.
- 2019 - sets all-time record for receptions in a season with 149
- 2020 - Week 1, he suffers a high ankle sprain. He missed the next couple of games
- 2020 - Week 7, in practice he suffers a hamstring injury that further delays his return
- 2020 - Week 15, he is placed on IR due to the ankle injury with plans to return for playoffs
- 2021 - Week 18, Thomas returns for playoff games vs. Bears and Bucs
- 2021 - In June, Michael Thomas has surgery on his ankle
- 2021 - Week 8, Michael Thomas announces that a setback with rehab will cost him the entire 2021 season
- 2022 - Week 3, Michael Thomas suffers a dislocation to his second toe (not big toe)
- 2022 - Week 9, after attempting to return without surgery for weeks, Michael Thomas is put on IR to have season-ending surgery
Over this span, Michael Thomas actually returned to play on four separate occasions. And there are certainly some lingering questions about who is to blame for the timeline. At one point Sean Payton made it clear that he was frustrated that the ankle surgery did not happen until June of 2021. Thomas’s camp however seems to suggest that the Saints medical staff continued to tell him that it could heal without surgery - after all, he did suffer the injury in Week 1 of 2020 and they cleared him to play in Week 9 and then again later for the Wild Card. The same thing actually happened in 2022 with the toe - he tried to come back without rehab but ended up needing surgery. Delaying the surgery delays the recovery. We might never know what those conversations were but we do know that, in both instances, Thomas clearly made efforts to play - otherwise, why not just elect for season-ending surgery right away?
When you really boil it down, this is what you have. Thomas played through the ankle injury in 2020, returning multiple times including the playoffs. In 2021 he missed the season due to ankle surgery. In 2022 he returned to play three games but suffered a separate toe injury. We can’t just extrapolate small sample sizes but, in those three games in 2022, he had 16 receptions on 22 targets and three touchdowns. He wasn’t likely going to score 17 touchdowns but why couldn’t he keep up that reception pace (which would have been borderline top 10)? He might not be 100% right now but, if he’s recovered by August of this year, what injury are we predicting him to have? The ankle wasn’t the problem last year. Is he going to dislocate his second toe again? Are we just predicting a random injury? I for one am willing to take the chance that this guy can still be great. And, with a new quarterback in Derek Carr under center, that risk is worth the price of admission.
Market Price: Early to Mid 3rd
What We Would Pay: Early 3rd, Mid to Late 2nd
Brandin Cooks - Age 29
He’ll be in the mix to be the second target after Ceedee Lamb on the Cowboys - we’ve seen him manage 1,000 yard seasons with far worse quarterbacks and some interesting target competition. Could be worth a late 2nd and is easily worth a 3rd.
Adam Thielen - Age 32
Thielen signed a three year deal with the Panthers so they don’t think he’s done. His propensity to score touchdowns keeps him interesting, especially in standard or best ball leagues. If you can get him for a 3rd I’d consider it.
Robert Woods - Age 31
Woods can be had for virtually nothing in your dynasty leagues but he’s landed in a spot that’s devoid of target competition. Right now it’s basically him, Nico Collins, and Dalton Schultz likely catching passes from either CJ Stroud or Bryce Young. Worth a stab in deeper leagues.
Odell Beckham - Age 30
He’s not currently on a team which is pretty scary but, if he passes medical and someone takes the risk, we’ll consider taking the risk ourselves. Wouldn’t drop more than a 3rd on him right now though.
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