2021 Dynasty Football: Buy Low On These Win-Now Veterans

by Rob Lorge
2020 NFL DFS Week 17 DraftKings Price Preview

In the words of the great Herm Edwards, “You play to win the game!” In Dynasty Fantasy Football sometimes we can get lost in the constant planning for the future. The rookies, the up and comers, and the draft picks. But at the end of the day, “You play to win the game!” and Dynasty Fantasy Football leagues are no different so win-now veterans should not be overlooked.

We can’t be afraid to push the chips and go all in. Trade some of our future assets to get win-now veterans. We all want our favorite teams to do so. I mean honestly Green Bay, just trade for Julio Jones. Just do it. I don’t care about draft picks. I don’t care about the salary. Just trade for Julio Jones. If we’re begging our real life teams to do go all-in, we can’t be afraid to do it ourselves.

It’s not uncommon for even the best of teams to need a little extra push. They just need that little extra nudge to go from, “Okay, I’ve got a chance,” to “Okay, this is mine to win.” That’s what we’re looking for. There are plenty of win-now veterans out there with the ability to push teams over the edge. We’re going to be looking at a few win-now veterans our dynasty teams should be looking to acquire to increase their chances of bringing home the gold.

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2021 Dynasty Football: Buy Low On These Win-Now Veterans

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Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings

Kirk Cousins does not get enough love across the fantasy football community. If you find yourself in need of a solid QB2 in any super-flex league, look no further than Captain Kirk.

Since coming over to Minnesota, Cousins has averaged 4,055 yards, 30 touchdowns, and just under 10 interceptions per season. Last year he was the QB11 overall as well as points per game (PPG). In 2019, he finished QB18 in both overall and PPG. In his first season with Minnesota (2018), he was QB13 overall and QB15 in PPG. Despite being a back-end QB1 or high-end QB2 in two out of his three Minnesota years, Cousins is still perennially viewed as a mid-range QB2 with limited upside.

Cousins does lack the upside we love and that’s mostly because Cousins is not going to rack up any points rushing. He does offset that with some amazing consistency. He scored 17 points or more Fantasy Points in 12 out of 16 games last season. There were two other games here he was right in the 14-15 point range.

Cousins has a really nice supporting cast in Minnesota. Justin Jefferson is a superstar. Adam Thielen can still play and is an expert in the red zone. We all know how good Dalvin Cook is and I think we’re in store for a breakout season from tight end, Irv Smith. The Vikings also have a very good offensive line, which will help minimize Cousins’ lack of mobility. This will also keep the passing emphasis on play-action which is Kirk’s bread and butter.

The Ultimate Buy Low of the Win-Now Veterans

The price tag on Cousins might be lower than it should be largely because of the inflated prices for other quarterbacks, such as Matt Ryan (with the addition of Kyle Pitts) and Matthew Stafford (getting traded to the Rams). The Vikings are generally viewed as a run-first club and it’s possible they just selected Kirk Cousins successor in the third round of the NFL Draft. I’d be trying to leverage all of these points into decreasing the price point on Kirk Cousins.

Kirk Cousins is still likely going to cost a first-round pick to acquire, but that’s not a price tag you should balk at. Cousins has proven to be a safe and consistent QB2 and someone you can trust starting in your lineup.

Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders

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I know, Josh Jacobs isn’t technically a veteran since he’s still on his rookie contract. Based on the lifespan of running backs, Jacobs could be viewed as a veteran. We’re going to roll with that just because there simply aren’t a lot of veteran running backs readily available. One could certainly make the case for Chris Carson, but I already mentioned him as a buy candidate earlier this offseason. Joe Mixon has a lot of appeal in Cincinnati, but the price tag on Mixon isn’t going to be cheap.

Josh Jacobs’ value is likely lower than it has ever been since he entered the league. For starters, Jon Gruden essentially got rid of their entire offensive line. Three starters are being replaced, which is no small feat, especially when the Raiders were largely viewed to have one of the better blocking units in the league. For Josh Jacobs’ value, it’s not a great look. To make matters even worse, the Raiders signed Kenyan Drake in the off-season. As if the offensive line worries weren’t enough.

Josh Jacobs has carried almost zero value in the passing game since he was drafted and with Drake’s addition, it’s likely going to drop even further. We can also assume Kenyan Drake is going to steal more carries than the backup running backs the Raiders have been using over Jacobs’ first two years in the league. Any way you look at it, Jacobs’ total number of touches is coming down. And then there’s the question of his efficiency running behind a newly constructed offensive line.

Win-Now Veterans With Volume Are Best

With all of these knocks against him Jacobs’ price tag is lower than it ever has been, which is something we like. The other thing we should like is Josh Jacobs’ high number of carries. Over his first two seasons in the league, he has averaged 18.4 carries per game. Over a 16-game season, he’s pacing at 295 carries. With absolutely zero catches. Even if that number dips to 16, we’re still looking at a very healthy 256 carries. If we tack on just 16 catches, one per game, he’s at 272 touches. If his carries drop to 15 a game, he’s likely around 250 total touches. Either way, Josh Jacobs’ volume makes him an easy RB2. Even with Kenyan Drake.

And the one role that won’t change is at the goal line. Josh Jacobs had the most carries in the NFL inside the red zone. He was fifth in carries inside the 5-yard line. This kind of usage should continue to pay dividends in the touchdown department. Jacobs scored 12 touchdowns last year and seven as a rookie despite missing three games. He’s likely looking at a double-digit touchdown season in 2021.

Josh Jacobs is going to cost you a first-round draft pick. But considering his age, volume, and high scoring rate, it’s a price tag I’m more than willing to meet if I found myself needing an RB2.

Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals

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With Ja'Mar Chase in Cincy now the common expectation is Tyler Boyd is going to be the odd man out. I’m not so sure that’s the case. First off, I believe Joe Burrow can support three fantasy-relevant wide receivers. There’s no tight end in this offense that’s worth anything and Joe Mixon has never been a great pass-catcher out of the backfield. The Bengals also run some of the most three-wide receiver sets in the NFL.

But here’s the main thing: Tyler Boyd is the Bengals’ slot receiver. This typically means he’s going to be running different routes than Chase and Higgins on the outside. With no tight end, Tyler Boyd is going to continue to be Burrow’s safety valve. With a shaky offensive line and a recovering knee injury, I’d expect Burrow to use that safety valve quite a bit. Tyler Boyd’s role in Cincinnati is secure because Chase and Higgins are primarily outside receivers. We know thanks to Mike Tagliere’s article here, slot targets are more valuable than those on the outside.

As far as the routes these three receivers are going to be running, Boyd largely doesn’t have any competition on the short and underneath routes that slot receivers typically thrive on. Higgins will be competing for outside targets with Ja’Mar Chase. During Burrow’s ten games last season, Tyler Boyd came in as the WR13 in full-PPR leagues with a 16.1 PPG average. Higgins’ wasn’t targeted in Week One, but even if we look at weeks 2-10, we find Boyd as the WR10 and Higgins at WR16.

Odd Man Out?

Boyd has largely become the odd-man out in Cincinnati for fantasy football managers, but this is a guy who just dropped back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons before 2020. He is a very talented player in his own right and he’s one of the better slot receivers in the league. Quarterbacks need safety valves and Tyler Boyd fills that role in Cincinnati’s offense. And it’s a role that is consistent week to week. This will be especially true if NFL defenses focus on stopping the big plays on the outside to Chase and Higgins.

If you’re looking to trade for Tyler Boyd, I’d start by offering a second-round rookie pick and see what kind of response you receive. I’m more than comfortable adding a secondary player to the offer if need be. I’m talking about someone like Jalen Reagor or Devin Singletary.

Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers

Mike Williams is one of the win-now veterans I’m looking to acquire if I need a WR4 or a quality bench option on my championship-contending team. There's a lot of upside here even if it isn't as an every-week starter. Williams is a very talented player. You don’t get drafted in the top-10 without having some natural gifts. And while he hasn’t been consistent in his NFL career, we’ve seen glimpses of just how good he is. The problem has been those glimpses have been in spurts.

Mike Williams’ game never really meshed with Philip Rivers. Mike Williams is a deep-ball phenom and this wasn't something Rivers was able to take advantage of at the stage of his career. It’s why Keenan Allen, a primarily slot and possession receiver, thrived in the offense. It's also why Austin Ekeler has had his monster seasons. That’s all changing with Justin Herbert. This kid has got a cannon. Unfortunately, Mike Williams wasn’t healthy often enough last season to take advantage of it. This has been a recurring problem over the course of Williams’ career and something that needs to be taken into account. While he hasn’t missed many games, he’s regularly played at less than 100%.

Still, the upside is tantalizing. Mike Williams is a big play waiting to happen. His career YPC average is 16.7. In 2018 he had 10 touchdowns and in 2019 he recorded his first-ever 1,000-yard season. So again, the glimpses have been there. With Hunter Henry moving onto New England this offseason, I’m hopeful Williams is able to carve out a bigger piece of the pie in Los Angeles. I’m also optimistic that Justin Herbert will be able to take advantage of Mike Williams’ deep ball and “go up and get it” skillset.

Williams Cost: Both in Real and Fantasy Football

I’m not one that fully buys into the “he’s playing for a new contract” mentality, but it bears mentioning. The Chargers declined Mike Williams’ fifth-year option. After the 2021 season, he will officially be a free agent. If he needed any extra incentive to bring his “A” game, there it is. The better he plays this season, the bigger numbers he puts up, the bigger his next paycheck is going to be. Again, I don’t fully buy into the notion, but if we’re looking for positives then it’s at least worth mentioning.

The best part about Mike Williams is he’s incredibly cheap. I’d be looking to trade Reagor or Ruggs straight up for Mike Williams. Kenneth Gainwell, Devin Singletary, Tarik Cohen, or Darrell Henderson are all other running backs that I think could be traded for Mike Williams. I’d have no problem sending two of those players out for Williams.

Championship Quality Win-Now Veterans

I hope if you’re eyeing up any of these win-now veterans to take you over the top they’re able to do that for you. They all are certainly capable of filling certain roles on some championship-contending rosters. Good luck out there and happy trading! And don’t ever forget, you play to win the game!

If you’re interested in reading any of my other work, you can find me on Twitter @RobFFAddict or check out the rest of our 2021 Fantasy Football content from our great team of writers!

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