I understand that fantasy football is generally a young-man’s game on the field, and we like to engage possible breakout players and the hot new rookies. But sometimes a boring but reliable veteran player is a preferred fantasy jam, and today I want to offer five of those boring but useful vets for you to consider on draft day.
Adam Thielen, WR, Vikings
Why he’s boring: He’s entering his age-32 season, and he’s clearly the second-most talented receiver on his own team (Justin Jefferson’s upside is the moon). Thielen missed four games last year, and had the lowest YPC of his career. He hasn’t topped 1,000 yards since 2018.
Why he’s a value: Thielen is an outstanding space receiver who excels in the red zone — he’s scored 24 times over his last 141 catches, covering the last 28 games. And while Jefferson might eventually cut into some of Thielen’s goal-line workload, it’s unlikely Kirk Cousins will completely ignore the red-zone chemistry he has with Thielen. The Vikings also have an exciting new coaching staff in place, which should be more creative in the passing game. Throw in a narrow Minnesota passing tree and I’m plenty interested in Thielen at his Yahoo ADP of 84.7.
Brandin Cooks, WR, Texans
Why he’s boring: He’s been well-traveled, paling with four different franchises over eight years. The Texans are one of the NFL’s most struggling franchises, at the front stages of what could be a lengthy rebuild. Cooks has been a steady performer for his career, but seldom a star — he’s never made a Pro Bowl. He has a modest 19 touchdown catches over his last four years.
Why he’s a value: Houston QB Davis Mills is likely better than the public realizes. And the Texans passing game is going to route through Cooks — he absorbed a juicy 134 targets last year. In some markets, the crowd is hip to Cooks — he’s percolated into the Top 50 of NFFC drafts in August. But his overall Yahoo ADP still rests outside the Top 70; if you can land that ticket, or anything reasonably close, you’ve done well.
Derek Carr, QB, Raiders
Why he’s boring: He’s low-key, not a glamour guy, with a quiet but reliable work ethic, seldom in the headlines or society pages. Carr’s fantasy placement the last five years has been respectable but never outstanding — starting with last year, he’s checked in at QB14, QB13, QB16, QB18, QB19. And Carr’s been around a while, stepping into his age-31 campaign.
Why he’s a value: Carr finally gets to work with a dynamic receiver in Davante Adams, his old running mate from Fresno State. The Raiders also have two other plus targets in slot machine Hunter Renfrow and tight end Darren Waller. And the Vegas offense might need to be pass-heavy for 2022, as a shaky offensive line is likely to limit the running game. When you don’t have faith in the beef up front, it’s usually easier to mask problems by proactively throwing the ball. If you like to take a value-driven approach at quarterback, Carr makes sense as the 14th quarterback off the board in Yahoo leagues.
Dalton Schultz, TE, Cowboys
Why he’s boring: Shultz was merely a fourth-round pick in the 2018 Draft, coming into the league with modest expectations. His Player Profiler comp is Austin Hooper, not a slam but not a glowing recommendation either. Schultz did very little in his first two seasons, and over his four-year career he averages an ordinary 10.0 YPC.
Why he’s a value: Schultz posted a snappy 78-808-8 breakout season last year, and slotting him as the TE3 in the end-of-year ranks. And yet he’s still available as the No. 6 tight end in Yahoo drafts, behind George Kittle (dealing with a young QB; seldom scores touchdowns) and Darren Waller (a good player, but perhaps the No. 3 option in the Raiders passing game). Schultz looks like he’s in the catbird seat, important in the Dallas offense but seldom to be the primary focus of defenses, given the skills of WR CeeDee Lamb. Schultz has an excellent chance to beat or at least meet his current ADP of 56.5.
Nick Chubb, RB, Browns
Why he’s boring: He’s not heavily used in the passing game, and he’s merely a good touchdown source, not a dominant one (39 spikes in 58 games). The Browns have quality backs complimenting Chubb (Kareem Hunt, D’Ernest Johnson), and the offense won’t have Deshaun Watson for 11 games, forcing Jacoby Brissett (or perhaps Jimmy Garoppolo) to hold down the fort. The Browns use Chubb liberally but seldom force the ball to him; he’s averaged 17.4 touches per game over the past two seasons.
Why he’s a value: In some rooms, Chubb’s ADP is falling notably. Over the past three weeks in NFC leagues, he’s carrying an ADP of 25. If you’re going to let me take Chubb late in the second round or early in the third, his sturdy floor calls to me. Chubb has taken an earlier pick in the Yahoo world (overall ADP of 15.1), but again I want you to target him if he slips to the late-second or early-third round, as perhaps he will now that the Watson suspension length has been solidified (hurting overall Browns stock). I’m still willing to bet on Nick Chubb.