The perceived age cliff in value that now accompanies wide receivers has trended younger and younger over the years. Many dynasty owners are trying to move on from pass catchers before they lose value, which creates some incredible value for those savvy enough to be patient. According to the June DLF ADP, only three wide receivers over the age of 27 are being drafted in the top 24 picks of dynasty start ups. Those wide receivers are the most heavily targeted ones in Michael Thomas, DeAndre Hopkins, and Davante Adams. Below are several wide receivers in that age group, who are heavily targeted but cost a fraction of the price and could lead you to the playoffs this season.
Robert Woods - Los Angeles Rams
Woods is entering his fourth season with the Los Angeles Rams and recently turned 28 years old. After a slow start to his career with Buffalo, Woods has thrived since moving to the Rams in 2017. Under the tutelage of Sean McVay mixed with his overall maturation at the position has turned Woods into one of the most underrated wide receivers in the NFL. In his 2018 breakout season, Woods posted 86 receptions, 1,219 yards, and 6 scores on 130 targets. He followed this up in 2019 with 90 receptions for 1,134 yards and a pair of scores. Those numbers were good enough for a WR11 finish in 2018 and WR14 in 2019, yet he still going outside the top 28 receivers in dynasty ADP, according to www.dynastyleaguefootball.com Cooper Kupp is going several rounds earlier, but it's Woods who has thrived when Brandin Cooks was out of the lineup. The Rams switched to 12 personnel down the stretch, trying to focus on two-tight end sets from Weeks 10-17. During this stretch, Robert Woods was the WR4 averaging 20.0 points per game, amassing 663 yards on 52 receptions. On the flip side, Cooper Kupp finished as the WR22 with a meager 12.9 fantasy points per game with only 369 yards but was propped up by 5 touchdowns. I am not disregarding Cooper Kupp, but it was Robert Woods who was the top receiver for the Rams down the stretch. It was Robert Woods who you wanted in your fantasy lineup.
Weeks 1-9 pace (16g) 126 targets, 80 receptions, 1006 yards
Weeks 10-17 pace (16g) 181 targets 120 receptions, 1,514 yards
These numbers may seem gaudy when extrapolated, but it shows what type of potential Robert Woods has when the Rams utilize their 12 personnel. The Rams did not address the offensive line, which points towards more of the same package and more of the same production. In fact, they doubled down, trading away Cooks and thus forcing Kupp to the outside. Just two years removed from their magical 2018 offense, Woods on the outside will be the only familiar piece for Jared Goff and McVay.
Marvin Jones - Detroit Lions
Jone is entering the season as a 30-year-old veteran wide receiver, who may be the biggest bargain in the double-digit rounds in dynasty drafts. Jones simply produces year in and year out in an offense tied to one of the better gunslingers in the league. Matthew Stafford was on pace for a QB2 overall finish in 2019 before injury. During that time Jones averaged 16.7 fantasy points per game with 387 yards and 5 touchdowns in 6 games. Jones when healthy is always a candidate for double digit touchdowns. While Kenny Golladay is clearly the top target in Detroit, Jones is a solid outside receiver that has flex appeal for your dynasty teams that are in contention.
Best touchdown rate on end-zone targets in 2019 for wide receivers
1. Cooper Kupp - 83%
2. Calvin Ridley - 71 %
3. Marvin Jones 67%
4. Michael Thomas 67%
5. Julio Jones 63%
Over his final 16 games with the Lions, Jones has produced at an eye-popping level with 117 targets, 78 receptions, 1,007 yards, and 11 touchdowns. With his history of injury managers will want to tread lightly in making him a WR3, but as a flex receiver you can't do much better. Go buy Marvin Jones on the cheap for both depth and production during key situations for your team.
Adam Thielen - Minnesota Vikings
Thielen is entering his 30-year-old season after a disappointing 2019 plagued by injury. Minnesota Vikings dealt Stefon Diggs in the offseason, Thielen’s biggest competition for targets. Thielen has put up 16 games of over 100 yards since 2016 and has been the go-to receiver for Kirk Cousins. This chemistry in a shortened camp should pay early dividends to Thielen, given that the Vikings number two receiver will be either rookie pass-catcher Justin Jefferson or Olabisi Johnson. Based on his performance in the past three seasons, Thielen is a clear value given his current average draft position. He finished WR9 in 2017, WR5 in 2018, and WR9 in the weeks he played during the 2019 season. Diggs and Thielen were always in competition for targets, but in the five games that Thielen has played without Diggs he’s averaged over 10 a game. He is a volume monster in this offense, but lacks the elite athleticism and flash of other wide receiver ones. He seems like a similar bet to finish as at least a top 18 wide receiver who you can get way outside the realm of other wide receivers with such perceived upside. Thielen is being drafted at around pick 65 in current dynasty startups according to June DLF average draft position. There are very few wide receivers with the type of upside, target share, and rapport with his current quarterback than Thielen. He has finished as a WR1 in each of the past three seasons and listed below are his past three seasons. In fact, www.espn.com ‘s Mke Clay has Thielen projected for 120 targets with over 1,000 yards and 6 touchdowns.
2017: 14 yards per reception, 9 yards per target, 2.33 yards per route run
2018: 12.2 yards per reception, 9 yards per target, 2.1 yards per route run
2019: 13.9 yards per reception, 8.7 yards per target, 1.86 yards per route run
He has been the staple of consistency with targets and yards per target and due for a huge role as a post-hype target in 2020 for contenders.