2020 Fantasy Projections: Aging Stars – Notable Veteran Players Over 30
With all the excitement surrounding the NFL Entry Draft and finally getting answers to where the new young studs will land, we first take a look at the veterans who paved the way for these young guns. Fantasy owners will always hold love for a player who previously won them a championship in years past, but let’s take a look at the value of these players now and see if there’s anything left in the tank outside of name recognition.
Here are the requirements to be considered in our Notable Over 30 overview:
- Had been a viable fantasy performer in 2020
- Currently signed to a team (no FA or retired)
- Played a minimum 6 games and rostered in +10% of leagues in 2020
- Has had over 30 birthday cakes!
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Old Dogs Still Have Some Tricks
Russell Wilson (32), QB, Seattle Seahawks
It is still unclear just how rocky the relationship is between the star quarterback and his head coach Pete Carroll, but it appears that this is still Wilson’s team to command. For someone who’s been sacked as often as he has, it’s hard to find a season in which Wilson isn’t a top 10 fantasy option. For a few years now we have seen Wilson put up enormous fantasy numbers, only to lose consistency and drop outside the QB1 range after week 10. One could argue that his age and all those hits have taken their toll as the season goes on. Regardless, he is a top fantasy option and surrounded by all the weapons one could want. The aging seahawk is a QB1 in all formats.
Tom Brady (43), QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Well, this is just obvious. Brady will find himself in every elite ranking list despite his age. Having led the former Patriots dynasty to stardom, he now attempts to create the same thing in Tampa Bay. Not only was he the backbone of the Bucs Super Bowl run, but he was also a viable fantasy option, finishing at No. 8 in total points. Aside from his fourth-down mishap against Chicago last season, Brady has not shown his age to be a concern for his team, or for your fantasy team.
Aaron Rodgers (37), QB, Green Bay Packers
This was exactly what we wanted to see in Green Bay. The Packers franchise leaves the draft with what could be Aaron Rodgers’ future replacement, and he then responds by putting together a career-best season. Rodgers showed that his age has no impact on his ability to put up top fantasy points at the position, despite his limited rushing ability. If the Packers can find a way to draft another elite receiving option to pair with Devante Adams, there’s nothing stopping the veteran Rodgers from being included in the top-five quarterback conversation for 2021.
Travis Kelce (31), TE, Kansas City Chiefs
Over the past 5 years, Kelce has finished as the No.1 fantasy tight end in four of those seasons; only finishing second to Gronk in 2017. This is pretty darn impressive even without considering Kelce’s age. He is as consistent of a player you will find and comes with great touchdown upside in every matchup. He will have some competition this season to continue his No.1 tight-end run with the return of George Kittle from his injury-plagued season. However outside of that, there is no real threat to his dominance at the top of the leaderboard at the position. As always, consider drafting the aging superstar Kelce early in drafts, and be thankful you did.
Adam Thielen (30), WR, Minnesota Vikings
Although last year saw the emergence of young rookie Justin Jefferson filling the open Stefon Diggs role, Adam Thielen was still a major factor in this offense. Despite finishing outside of the top 25 in targets, total yards, and yards per game, his fantasy season was saved by his top-3 WR touchdown performance (14). However taking a further look into his stats showed that his dominance was primarily in the Red Zone, where he had seen 13 of those touchdowns on a mere 17 completions. We must also remember that this is an offense focused on giving their star RB Dalvin Cook the ball, therefore some regression is expected. His limited receiving value outside of the touchdown department is cause for concern, but remember this is a team poised to score points, making the 30-year-old vet a WR2 with multi-touchdown game upside.
Cole Beasley (31), WR, Buffalo Bills
The soon-to-be 10-year NFL veteran enjoyed his career year just two seasons into his new home in Buffalo. With Josh Allen taking a huge leap in year three, Beasley was one of the major benefactors to the quarterback’s progression. 2020 saw Beasley finish with a career-high in targets (107), receptions (82), and yards (967). Finishing the fantasy season just outside the WR2 range, this was quite the draft day steal for anyone lucky enough to take a chance on selecting him in those late rounds. Currently being ranked outside of the top 50 fantasy receivers, Beasley could be another notable sneaky sleeper at the draft.
Marvin Jones (31), WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
With a horrible start to the season, Jones found himself droppable by most fantasy teams due to his lack of involvement and inconsistent play. However, this took a drastic turn when start receiver Kenny Golladay was injured in week 7 and would miss the rest of the season. With little-to-no other quality receivers left in Detroit, Jones turned into the go-to guy in the passing game, seeing eight of his nine touchdowns after week 7. While always a deep ball threat, Jones surprisingly finished in the top 10 in Red Zone targets among wide receivers. Now finding himself in Jacksonville, with what we all expect to be Trevor Lawrence throwing him the ball, expectations must be kept in check with an offense that finished in the bottom two in total points scored in 2020. With his current fantasy ranking in the WR4 range, Jones has some potential upside if he manages to find himself as Lawrence’s favorite target early.
Time Will Tell
Matt Ryan (35), QB, Atlanta Falcons
For a player who finished in the top 12 among fantasy quarterbacks last season, Ryan was as hot and cold as they come. Putting up numbers to win your matchup one week, and leaving you in tears the next. Previously profiling at a top fantasy option who can consistently deliver +4,000 yards, the loss of Julio Jones, and having no viable running game, greatly hurt Ryan’s ability to be a relevant fantasy option. With questions surrounding Julio’s health and little improvement on the defensive side of the ball, Ryan falls outside of the top 12 quarterback ranking for this season.
Kirk Cousins (32), QB, Minnesota Vikings
With an offense clearly focused on giving Dalvin Cook the ball, it’s tough to get a good read on Kirk Cousins. Despite the run-focused offense and a few terrible bust games during the season, Cousins put together a notable campaign, finishing with +4,200 yards and a career-high 35 passing touchdowns. With rookie Justin Jefferson taking over the recently vacated No.1 receiver option from Stefon Diggs, there’s lots to be hopeful for this coming season. With little output in his rushing ability, and regression coming in the touchdown department, Cousins ranks outside the QB1 range.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (38), QB, Washington Football Team
Despite a poor showing in the season opener last year against a stout Patriots’ defense, Ryan Fitzpatrick was an overall fantasy performer with the Dolphins. This free agency signing for Fitzpatrick marks the veteran’s eighth team so far in his 16-year career in the NFL. The good news is that this offense profiles as his best receiving corps thus far, with superstar Terry McLaurin and the shifty wideout Curtis Samuel. Despite his lack of speed, Fitzpatrick does provide some rushing upside, especially in the Red Zone. With some sneaky rushing touchdown upside and his ability to sling the ball down the field, Fitzmagic is a mid QB2 with weekly upside.
Julio Jones (32), WR, Atlanta Falcons
From a fantasy standpoint, this might be one of the harder players to get a read on for this season. There is no question that when he’s on the field, Julio has the ability to be a top 5 receiver on any given week. The issue at hand is how often will Julio actually be on the field. He dealt with injuries all last season, causing him to start only nine games, and occasionally being pulled out of offensive drives. Although we expect him to be fully healthy come week 1, there is a concern if his aging body can handle a full season. Consider Julio a top 12 fantasy option at receiver, but with the most risk amongst that grouping.
Emmanuel Sanders (34), WR, Buffalo Bills
The release of John Brown was quickly followed by the signing of his replacement with the 12-year veteran Emmanuel Sanders. Now finding himself on his fourth team, Sanders will look to become a favorite target for Josh Allen alongside superstar Stefon Diggs. Despite missing a number of games in 2020, Sanders was a notable fantasy option in the Saints offense, especially in PPR formats. With a high number of viable targets in Buffalo, Sanders will need to prove his value early to gain any sort of fantasy relevance. But for right now, Sanders is ranked outside the top 50 fantasy receivers.
T.Y. Hilton (31), WR, Indianapolis Colts
Starting the year ice-cold, and for the most part droppable in most fantasy formats, Hilton found his second wind late in the season. The long-time Colt put together a few big games for the early rounds of the fantasy playoffs, averaging 6.7 targets and totaling 4 touchdowns safter Week 10. With Carson Wentz throwing him the ball, consider Hilton in the WR4 range, but someone who could also surprise us all.
Rob Gronkowski (31), TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Coming out of retirement to join his BFF Tom Brady in Tampa was clearly the right decision for the former WWE Champ. Although his performance really picked up during the NFL playoffs, Gronk was a very boom or bust type of player on a weekly basis. The good news is that he matched Brady’s actions by re-signing to return with the Bucs once again this season. With very few high-performing tight ends available in fantasy with his kind of upside, the Superbowl veteran is worth a look later in drafts. Buyers beware of his inconsistency and guaranteed bust games throughout the year.
Put Out To Pasture
Ben Roethlisberger (39), QB, Pittsburgh Steelers
It’s tough to get an idea of what’s truly left in the tank with Big Ben. Although he didn’t tank your season by any means, it was difficult to watch him put up inconsistent fantasy points with all his quality receiver weapons available. The Steelers have brought back JuJu which should help provide Ben with a decent floor, assuming his league-leading defense can show up in a similar fashion to last year. Looking at the decent number of notable rushing quarterbacks available, consider Ben a safe bench QB in case of emergency, but nothing to get excited about.
Cam Newton (31), QB, New England Patriots
What a roller-coaster first year for Cam in New England. It’s almost comical to think that a quarterback can have a league-low five passing touchdowns on the entire year, and still manage to be considered a viable fantasy option in your lineup. There are very few elite receiving options on the Patriots outside of their newly acquired tight ends, which almost doesn’t make a difference since Cam showed us last season he isn’t able to support any fantasy receivers. If you’re looking for rushing yards and touchdown upside, Cam is your guy. Outside of that, it’s best to avoid the stress and keep the veteran Cam away from your fantasy team.
Mark Ingram (31), RB, Houston Texans
Initially appearing to be the lead back in the crowded 2020 Baltimore backfield, Ingram turned into an overall non-fantasy option with rookie J.K. Dobbins appearing to take over the lead role late in the season. It is unclear exactly what his role will be with the Texans, however. There is little to be excited about when it comes to all the uncertainty surrounding the Texans.
A.J. Green (32), WR, Arizona Cardinals
Last offseason there was a good amount of questions surrounding just how much of an impact Green would provide after missing the entire 2019 season due to injury. Those who took a chance on drafting Green were left with a lot of disappointment; With Green once again missing games and being a complete non-factor in the games he did dress. His 13 red-zone targets turned into an underwhelming 6 completions for only 3 touchdowns. Now finding himself surrounded by a large receiving group in Arizona, the 9-year veteran is better left avoided come draft day.
Golden Tate (32), WR, New York Giants
When Saquon Barkley went down to injury in Week 2, the entire Giants offense took a major dip. With young quarterback Daniel Jones unable to put together drives down the field (or even run properly in the open field), it was difficult to have confidence in any of the receiving options. With Kenny Golladay rolling into town, there are now even fewer valuable targets heading Tate’s way. Expect an inconsistent and disappointing fantasy season for the aging veteran.
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