Stacking for Upside for DRAFT Best Ball Leagues (2018 Fantasy Football)
One way to bump up your DRAFT Best Ball roster’s scoring potential is by stacking teammates. The obvious combination of Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown comes to mind as a high-octane stacking partnership. However, since AB’s ADP is 5.8, not everyone drafting will have a legitimate crack at selecting him. With that in mind, I’ve opted not to include that stack below. Having said that, if you take Brown with your first-round pick, stacking him with Big Ben (ADP 112) is not only an acceptable move but a good one. The highlighted stacks below open with a trio of three-man stacks. A couple of other teams also feature multiple stacks, though, they’re broken down as two-player stacks as opposed larger stacks, and I’ll explain why I’ve done that in the analysis.
Let me start by clarifying that I wouldn’t advise taking Nuk ahead of the stud backs or AB just to secure this three-man stack. While that seems obvious, I don’t want to leave that in question. Once you get to around pick nine, pulling the trigger on Houston’s No. 1 receiver is a fine play. After picking him, though, snagging his mobile quarterback makes for a strong move to enhance your team’s scoring ceiling. However, you don’t have to just stop there. Last year, Houston scored 33 or more points in Watson’s last five starts and were an offensive juggernaut. I don’t expect them to maintain that pace for a full season, but they can certainly be one of the game’s best offenses this year, and one that can have two receivers produce eye-popping numbers. Fuller’s field-stretching ability pairs perfectly with Watson’s ability to keep plays alive with his legs. The speedy wideout hauled in seven touchdowns in just four games played with Watson and zero in his other six contests. According to RotoViz’s game splits tool, Fuller averaged 3.25 receptions, 1.75 touchdowns, and 69.75 receiving yards per game with Watson playing and 2.5 receptions, zero touchdowns, and 24 yards receiving per game without him. Fuller’s not a big target hog, but his big-play skills are built for best-ball formats. I’m a big fan of the Watson/Fuller two-man stack for gamers who have a high enough pick to snag one of the stud backs or AB, too. Also, it warrants mentioning that the Texans play the Jaguars in Week 17. Why is that important? DRAFT seasons end in Week 16. Avoiding the facing the Jaguars twice is a big value boost for Watson and his two talented wideouts.
To say Green Bay’s offense’s success is tied directly to Rodgers’ health is a mild understatement. In the six games he started and finished last year, Green Bay averaged 26.83 points per game. In the other 10 games, they averaged only 15.9 points per game and eclipsed the per-game scoring average with Rodgers just two times. Yikes. Adams actually averaged fewer receptions and yards receiving per game with Rodgers playing last year than with him out, but his per game average with Rodgers of 4.71 receptions, 56.57 yards receiving, 0.86 receiving touchdowns per game, according to RotoViz’s game splits tool, were nothing to sneeze at, and he’ll benefit from being the unquestioned No. 1 receiving in the offense in the wake of the team cutting Jordy Nelson. One player who will help fill Nelson’s void — especially in the red zone — is the team’s prized free-agent addition at tight end. Graham is a huge upgrade at the position, and he’s coming off of a 10-touchdown campaign. His 57 receptions for 520 yards leave something to be desired, but he bested 900 yards receiving just the year before, and he’s the owner of four double-digit touchdown campaigns in an eight-year career. Graham’s touchdown-scoring prowess alone makes him a solid stack partner with Rodgers, but he could be more than a touchdown-or-bust option if he regresses closer to his career averages of 4.6 receptions and 56.2 yards receiving per game after posting just 3.6 receptions and 32.5 yards receiving per game last year, per Pro-Football-Reference. Graham’s exceeded four receptions per game and totaled at least 55.0 yards receiving per game in six of eight seasons, and he was riding a six-season streak of doing so before falling short of those marks last year. Like the previously highlighted stack — though, to a lesser extent — the members of the Packers stack should benefit from facing a divisional foe in Week 17. The Packers are scheduled to host the Lions in Week 17, and that means Adams will only draw stud shadow corner Darius Slay once during the DRAFT best-ball season.
Keenum will look to prove his breakout 2017 wasn’t a one-hit wonder after inking a two-year pact with the Broncos. He’ll go from one supremely talented wide receiving duo to another that’s a little more grizzled. Even if Keenum is unable to duplicate his breakout 2017, he’s a good bet to outperform the motley crew of quarterbacks the Broncos started last year. Bad play by Denver’s signal callers last year helped contribute to DT falling short of 1,000 yards receiving for the first time since 2011. Sanders also had a 1,000-yard receiving seasons streak snapped at three last year, He’d bested the 1,000-yard threshold in his first three seasons with the Broncos, but an ankle injury, just 12 games played, and the ineffectiveness at quarterback resulted in Sanders’ least effective season since 2011. He’s a prime bounce-back candidate. With the Vikings last year, Keenum helped Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen produce season totals of 64-849-8 and 91-1,276-4, respectively, so he can run an offense that allows both DT and Sanders to thrive together. Also, as you’ve likely deduced from DT’s and Sanders’ 1,000-plus receiving yard streaks playing together, they’ve demonstrated the ability to each get their share of the fantasy goods. This is a cheap three-man stack with significant upside. Also, continuing the running theme of stacks benefiting from their Week 17 opponent, the Broncos host the loaded defense of the Chargers in Week 17. Avoiding the quarterback pressure provided by Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa as well as the suffocating coverage of a secondary headlined by Casey Hayward for one of their two division showdowns is a big plus for this stack.
This is New England’s premium stack, but it’s also just one of three I’ve included as two-man stacks. New England’s receiving corps is a little lackluster entering this year following the off-season trade of Brandin Cooks to the Rams and the four-game suspension levied against Julian Edelman to open the year. Gronk’s upside is massive as the clear-cut top option in a Brady-led offense. Last year, he was second at tight end with 22 red-zone targets, per Lineups. That total led the Patriots. He should once again pace the team in targets in the red zone, and the trade of Cooks and departures of Danny Amendola and Dion Lewis via free agency open up another 31 red-zone targets from last year’s squad. If the Patriots remain a high-powered offense, Gronk’s touchdown upside is legitimately in the range of his career-high 17 turned in as a sophomore back in 2011. Also, he’s far from a touchdown-dependent scorer after leading qualified tight ends in receiving yards per game (77.4, the only tight end to best 70 yards per game) and ranking fifth in receptions (69, nice) despite missing one game for injury and another for suspension.
While Hogan isn’t the top pass-catching option in New England’s offense, he’s easily the most exciting receiver. A shoulder injury suffered in Week 8 sidelined Hogan for almost the entire second half of the regular season, and he played in just nine regular season contests last year. In those nine games, though, he set new career highs in touchdowns (five), receptions per game (3.8), and receiving yards per game (48.8). If you toss out his nearly invisible Week 14 showing (the only game in the second half of the regular season in which he played), Hogan’s per-game averages jump to 4.13 receptions and 54.75 yards. He caught all five of his touchdowns in the first eight games of the year, and he tied for the team lead at wide receiver with a dozen red-zone targets despite the significant time missed. Hogan’s more than a big-play threat, he’s also a touchdown threat from the red zone. Pairing him with the reigning NFL MVP is a high-upside move. I’m not opposed to a three-man stack using Brady/Gronk/Hogan, but I don’t believe the touchdown scoring on New England will be as tightly clustered as it will be with Green Bay’s QB/TE/WR stack touted above, thus, my preference is to stack either Gronk or Hogan with Brady as opposed to nabbing the tight and end wide receiver together.
Speaking of threats for touchdowns in New England, Burkhead stands out as just that. He’s a fine pass-catching back, but his stacking partnership with Brady might look a bit odd. Burkhead was targeted six times in the red zone last year, so while he and Brady could combine for a few touchdowns in the red zone, I’m not necessarily banking the stack’s scoring correlating in that direct manner. Instead, I’m a believer that Brady and Co. will once again be a high-scoring offense, and Burkhead will benefit from Brady’s continued excellence by scoring through the air and on the ground. In addition to his six red-zone targets last year, he also carried the ball 16 times in the red zone. The versatile back scored eight touchdowns in 10 regular season games last year, and all eight of those scores were in the red zone. His versatility near the end zone should make him the favorite for goal-line work in scoring position. The touchdown upside Burkhead possesses makes him a tantalizing best-ball pick even with the presence of first-round pick Sony Michel and others in the backfield mix. Also, as the 2017 season illustrates when Brady threw for 296.2 yards per game and 28 touchdowns in a dozen regular season games while LeGarrette Blount punched in 18 scores on the ground, if the offense is clicking on all cylinders, Brady and his goal-line back can both pile up touchdowns in bunches.
Luck is back after missing all of last season recovering from shoulder surgery. When Luck was last healthy in 2016, Hilton set personal bests in targets (155), receptions (91), receiving yards (1,448, NFL high), receptions per game (5.7), and receiving yards per game (5.7). He’s the apple of Luck’s eye, and if Luck returns to pre-surgery form or something close to it, the duo can team up for eye-popping weekly scoring totals. The Colts Week 17 game this year is a road contest against the Titans, and that’s a plus for Luck and Hilton. Hilton’s average 4.3 receptions and 67.6 yards receiving per game on the road compared to 4.9 receptions and 77.5 receiving yards per game at home. Luck, too, has played better at home in his career.
San Francisco’s offense thrived when Garoppolo took over the reigns, and it’s an offense to invest in at various positions. My favorite stack from their improving offense is Jimmy G and his second-year tight end. Kittle didn’t go bananas with Garoppolo starting last year, but his averages of 2.67 receptions and 39.67 receiving yards per game in games that Garoppolo played in with him offer something to build on in year two. He closed the season with a bang reaching the 100-yard plateau in the final game of the regular season, and he totaled 11 receptions, 194 yards receiving, and one touchdown in the last three games last year. The second-year pro has enticing measurables that you can check out here, and I’m drawn to his touchdown upside. Kittle was targeted in the red zone six times in the last five games of 2017. For Garoppolo’s part, he looked like a franchise quarterback in his five starts. Furthermore, even if he has some hiccups this year, he’s the QB10 in ADP and is going outside of pick 100 on average, so he can still hit value with some bumps in the road. Circling back to Kittle, he separated his shoulder in San Francisco’s preseason opener and will miss the rest of the preseason. He didn’t suffer any structural damage, though, and he’s expected to be ready for Week 1. At the other end of the season spectrum, Week 17 features the 49ers playing in Los Angeles against the suddenly star-studded, Wade Phillips coached defense of the Rams. That’s not a bad one to have left off of the DRAFT fantasy schedule.
Since I’ve addressed Week 17 matchups for most of the stacks, I’ll get that right out of the way with the Bears and their three highlighted stacks. They’re at Minnesota in Week 17. The Vikings had one of the best defenses in football last year, and cornerback Xavier Rhodes is a handful for opposing No. 1 receivers. A-Rob stands to benefit the most out of Trubisky’s touted stack partners from only drawing the Vikings for one of their two matchups during the fantasy season. Robinson was brought in as a free agent as part of a major offensive overhaul in the Windy City. He should be the top option for Trubisky in an offense that has the potential to take a major leap forward (something it needs to do in order to be fantasy relevant) under new offensive-minded head coach Matt Nagy. We’ve seen what a creative offensive coach replacing a milquetoast previous head coach can do for an offense and second-year signal-caller just last year with the Rams moving from the basement to the NFL lead in scoring offense. I’m not going to predict the Bears making that kind of leap, but they don’t need to in order for Trubisky to live up to his modest cost to draft. Trubisky is one of my favorite end-game QB2/QB3 targets, and grabbing his likely top option in the passing attack isn’t a bad investment if he makes a second-year leap.
Burton was another addition to an offense sorely needing new weapons. Zach Ertz missed two regular season games last year, and Burton flashed his potential in those two games. In the first of Ertz’s two missed games, Burton hauled in two of four targets against the Broncos for 41 yards and a touchdown, and in the second, he posted a 5-71-2 line on six targets against the Rams. He’ll now be the top pass-catching tight end on the Bears, and his head coach previously served as the offensive coordinator for stud tight end Travis Kelce. That seems like a good guy for a tight end to play for.
Sticking with parallels to the 2017 Rams, the Bears also used a high draft pick to add a slot wideout for their sophomore quarterback. The Rams drafted Cooper Kupp in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft with pick 69 overall, and the Bears traded up in the second round of this year’s draft to pick 51 overall in order to nab Miller. The rookie has turned heads in camp, and he has a good shot at starting outside opposite Robinson in two-receiver sets while kicking inside to the slot in three-receiver sets. Miller should standout in the slot, and his excellent numbers from the slot in college prompted Pro Football Focus to name the rookie the favorite to lead the NFL in receptions from the slot. That’s quite the bullish outlook, and there’s not a significant draft cost in finding out if he lives up to those lofty expectations. Having said that, I do suspect Miller’s stock will rise as the regular season approaches, and it almost certainly will if he performs well in preseason contests. There’s ample room for his ADP to rise while keeping this stack in the bargain bin and one I’ll be targeting in DRAFT best-ball drafts.