Pick some winners

The NFL season doesn’t start for several more weeks, but fantasy football players are already starting to get their teams outlined and ready for the draft. If you are a fantasy football fan, you probably already have a good idea of who you want to draft onto your team, but there are many ways of approaching this, and having a few different sources for ideas will be to your benefit.

The time tested advice is that players hit their peak in their late 20s. This is when, athletically, a player is strongest and at their most explosive. You tend to find positions where older players can thrive–such as at quarterback–but in some positions, once you get into the 30s, time catches up. The wide receiver, though, is a position that can go either way. Yes, speed is beneficial to a WR, but not in the same way that it is to a running back, and older WRs can still do really well as this position relies heavily on tactics. A strong tactical mind can take years to develop, and age is a plus in this regard. Let’s take a look at a few strong WRs that are in the latter portion of their careers to see if they can help your team.

Steve Smith of the Baltimore Ravens is one of the first names that comes to mind. He’s 36 years old, but still has speed and toughness on his side. He has potential to be one of the top 20 WRs in the NFL this year, and while he might not be a great starter for your team, he can easily fill in a lot of gaps on your roster, especially if your top WR goes down with injury. He’s definitely worth a consideration.

Anquan Boldin of the San Francisco 49ers is another WR to consider. He’s 34 right now, and has a great reception rate when he is in the slot position: 73%. He has big strides, perfect for gaining ground quickly and eating up the field. Combine his experience with QB Colin Kaepernick’s progress this offseason, and there’s a ton of potential for Boldin to have a great season. Experts predict he will have over 1,000 yards, too, which is never a bad thing.

The Buffalo Bills might not be one of the first places you look for a fantasy team, but Percy Harvin might have a spot on your roster. Harvin isn’t that old–he’s only 27–and although he’s been around for a while and often appears much older, statistically, he’s right near the peak of his career when it comes to age. His experience, then, is helpful as this wisdom combined with the right age could make for a great combination: this WR might be a sleeper this year. Experts predict over 700 yards and 4 touchdowns, which will be a nice little supplement to your roster. And with the unpredictability on the Buffalo roster, there’s a good chance that he could step it up even more than this. He’s not a first round pick–or even a second or third–but if you can find him for cheap after the sixth, he’s worth a risk.

Remember, because these players are older, you have a strong chance of getting them for cheaper in the auction than a similar player that is younger. Age tends to slow players down and leave them slightly more susceptible to injury. For that reason, looking at these players for daily fantasy leagues can also be helpful as you won’t have to worry as much about what happens with them if they get injured or otherwise prove they’ve lost their step midway through the season.