Aug 14,2014

Vintage Vets at a Value

New stuff is almost always better than old stuff.

Zipping around in a new car is way more fun than puttering along in an old clunker. Dining at a trendy new restaurant beats eating tired old burgers from the joint around the corner. And sampling the latest craft brewed IPA is infinitely more refreshing than throwing back a can of mass-produced swill.

Except… what if that old clunker is a rebuilt ’69 Alfa Romeo Spider? Or suppose that boring burger joint has been churning out “animal style” eats for over 65 years? And what if that swill was an ice cold can of Budweiser shared with your buddies after shutting down your high school reunion?

Just because something is new doesn’t necessarily mean it’s superior. Sure, it might have more appeal – dare I say upside – but something that has stood the test of time can often produce great value.

The same theory applies to fantasy football. For months we’ve been hearing about “depth at receiver,” while first and second year guys are being touted as potential season saviors. I get it. New is sexy and alluring. The potential that these players possess is huge. Heck, I’ll admit to having drafted Donte Moncrief on a team or two.

While everyone else is blowing their FAB budgets on P.Y.T.s, however, let’s take a look at five vets who are offering vintage appeal at thrift store prices. Yes, they’re a little worn around the edges, but so is that broken-in pair of jeans that you can’t wait to change into after getting home from work.

Roddy White
If fantasy football had a theme song, it would be Janet Jackson’s “What have you done for me lately.” Nothing better proves this than Roddy White’s current ADP of 4.04. That is a tremendous value for a player who has been a top 10 fantasy receiver for five out of the last six seasons. Yes, 2013 was a down year for White, but despite two injuries and the loss of Julio Jones, he finished the season with an admirable amount of grit, averaging 100 yards per game over his last five weeks. Heading into 2014, I expect him to pick up where he left off, and gift fantasy owners with some bounce-back love. Improvements made to the offensive line should help buy Matt Ryan some time in the pocket, and open up the passing game. Plus, it’s likely that White will see an uptick in production now that Tony Gonzalez is off the roster. A stud since 2007, White is a player not to be overlooked.

Marques Colston
With the exception of 2008 and 2013, Colston has recorded over 1,000 receiving yards in every year since his debut in 2006. Last year, the Saints’ big-bodied receiver was hampered by a foot injury, which resulted in an unfortunate dip in his numbers. But this year Colston appears to be back on track. He went on record in July saying that his foot is no longer an issue and that it “feels really good.” What else feels really good is having future Hall of Famer Drew Brees under center. With rookie Brandin Cooks and second year upstart Kenny Stills looking to fill the holes that Lance Moore and Darren Sproles left, Colston remains Brees’s most polished – and trusted – wide receiver. Currently being drafted at the end of the sixth round, the nine year vet offers WR2 appeal at a WR3 price.

Kenny Britt
An injury prone knucklehead? Sign me up! Admittedly, this pick is not for the faint of heart. However, Britt’s potential in 2014 is too good not to mention. He’s three years removed from an awful ACL tear and rounding the corner into his mid-twenties. Furthermore, he’s once again under the tutelage of Jeff Fisher, who drafted him back in 2009. Older and hopefully wiser, Britt has been crushing it during camp and is currently listed as the Rams’ No. 1 receiver. And yet, according to Fantasy Football Calculator, there are fifty-two wide receivers being drafted ahead of him. That makes him even more tempting than a frozen box of Thin Mints! Granted he’s in a tough division, and St. Louis has question marks at quarterback, but if you’re looking for a potential stud with big-play ability to round out your flex spot, then go ahead and get your hand caught in this cookie jar.

Steve Smith
Where there’s a will there’s a way… and Steve Smith has too much will to simply go away. After thirteen incredible seasons with the Panthers, No. 89 is moving his house to Baltimore. Word out of camp is that he’s just as competitive and driven as ever. No amount of ambition, however, will change the fact that Joe Flacco remains the Ravens starting quarterback. Acknowledging the downgrade in QB, it’s unlikely that Smith will garner the numbers he did playing with Cam Newton. Still, he could very well duplicate the numbers that Anquan Boldin put up in his three years with the Ravens. From 2010 – 2012 Boldin wasn’t a fantasy stand-out, but he was a high-end WR3 who consistently finished near or just outside of the top 25 receivers. Considering Smith is being taken in the 12th round of most drafts, I’d say that’s a pretty great value. Best in leagues that start three WRs, Smith – and the chip on his shoulder – are worth a nod.

Brian Hartline
In 2012 Brian Hartline caught twice as many balls for nearly twice as many yards than he had in any of his prior three seasons with the Dolphins. Coincidentally 2012 was also the year Ryan Tannehill became Miami’s starting quarterback. The only thing hotter than the chemistry between these two is the nightlife on South Beach. And I don’t see a cooling off period for this bromance. With new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor taking things up a notch in Miami, it’s entirely possible for Hartline to haul in at least 75 balls for over 1,000 yards. Granted, the OSU alum won’t be hanging out in the end zone too often, but in a PPR format he offers a healthy dose of dependability. If you’ve spent the latter half of your draft chasing alluring upside guys, then I suggest balancing things out with one of the Phins faithful near round fourteen.