2022 Fantasy Football Best Ball: High-Priced & Low-Priced Stacks based on ADPs
Best ball is all about team building and roster construction. Focusing your strategy on targeting players on specific NFL teams can be just as important, if not more important, than homing in on standalone players. That’s where optimal best ball stacking comes into play, and emphasizing the best NFL offenses on your roster is the ticket to winning a big best ball tournament.
For that reason, I’ve dug into the Underdog Fantasy ADPs to unearth high and low-priced team stacks among all 32 NFL offenses. Collective team ADP helps us distinguish who the market is high/low on and identify potential values/fades for specific squads.
To best capture the mean ADP of each NFL offense, I collected the ADPs of the first seven players drafted from each team. That way, I would be able to consider each team’s QB plus a combination of six skill players between running back, wide receiver, and tight end.
It also prevents “good” offenses from being penalized because all the late-round guys drafted from those teams will suppress the team’s overall score.
Every offense had at least seven players with an actual ADP except for the Pittsburgh Steelers (5). The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Buffalo Bills, and Cleveland Browns have the most players with 12 – with each team averaging four different players drafted after pick 237.
The Steelers’ mean ADP is slightly inflated because of the lack of players being drafted from their team, but nevertheless, it is still relatively high compared to the other 31 teams. Even after I added two placeholder ADPs to represent two more offensive players being drafted from the Steelers – using the overall average at 139 ADP – Pittsburgh still ranks top-10 in cumulative ADP.
It’s quite the leap of faith fantasy drafters are taking for an offense that ranked 21st in scoring and 23rd in yards (312) despite ranking ninth in plays per game.
The market believes that Mitchell Trubisky or [insert rookie quarterback here] can take the Steelers to the fantasy promised land.
In Trubisky’s best season (2018) as an NFL quarterback, the Bears’ offense ranked 24th in yards per game (344) and 10th in points per game.
The room for an improved offense is realistic, but I’m not as bullish on paying the premium price tag for stacking because the floor is still super shaky.
Allen Robinson was WR12 (27% target share) with Trubisky in 2019 after finishing as WR35 in points per game in 2018. Acknowledge that the No. 2 receiver in that offense was Tarik Cohen (18% target share), followed by Anthony Miller (15% target share) and Taylor Gabriel (8% target share).
Their inline reveals the best-case scenario for the Steelers’ No. 1 wide receiver. Seeing a boatload of targets – albeit inefficient like last season – to deliver for fantasy. But with a top-20 best ball ADP in an offense with more competition for targets, I would need Johnson to fall significantly in drafts before selecting him.
Too often last season, I was drafting WRs in the third and fourth round that projected to be target hogs with bad quarterbacks – Terry McLaurin, D.J. Moore – and those ended up being poor fantasy selections. Johnson looks like he is in that similar ilk, so I am hesitant to get excited about drafting him at the current price.
There’s also the case that Chase Claypool could be Trubisky’s new favorite target. After all, he profiles more similarly to A-Rob than Johnson does, and I’d rather draft Claypool at WR43, where there’s less risk if the entire Steelers offense craters.
Because that in itself, I don’t believe it is being factored in enough. Pittsburgh could be a total dumpster fire on offense in 2022 with Trubisky or a rookie quarterback, so don’t feel any need to overdraft anyone from this team.
Harris will likely be unaffected because of sheer volume, but I wouldn’t be shocked if his receiving numbers took a bit of a hit. Mobile quarterbacks – and ones with non-disintegrating arms – tend to check down less than their older statue-esque counterparts.
But if Harris is to hit his receiving ceiling – or even a median outcome – it will likely come at the expense of Johnson. The latter has traditionally operated closer to the line of scrimmage.
Therefore, my approach to stacking Pittsburgh would be to start with Harris and then wait to scoop up Claypool and Pat Freiermuth (TE14).
Other high-priced stacks to fade
San Francisco 49ers, Miami Dolphins. A lot of moving pieces for these teams on offense this offseason, but the market shows little concern.
I am all for paying up for the Denver Broncos stack. Considering the Steelers’ mean ADP is slightly skewed for reasons I have already discussed, the Broncos are the most expensive best ball stack per pre-draft ADP.
And it’s hard to envision that changing drastically post-draft with their offense pretty much set outside, adding another running back to the fold behind Javonte Williams – whether that be Melvin Gordon III or a rookie runner.
But even if and when the Broncos add another back, I am not overly concerned it will affect Williams’ sky-high upside in Denver’s high-powered offense with Russell Wilson at the helm.
We saw his fantasy ceiling when he scored 27 fantasy points against the Kansas City Chiefs without Gordon in the lineup. Williams also finished second in forced missed tackles and first in missed tackles forced per attempt (31%).
Williams’ best-ball ADP (RB6) is one spot behind Harris. But when you take a step back and just ask yourself which offense would you rather invest high-end Round 1 capital into – there’s no debate that Williams is the prime target as part of an offense that we can all agree will be better than Pittsburgh.
After Williams, Jerry Jeudy (WR16) and Courtland Sutton (WR24) are the two WRs to add to the stack. I’ve echoed my takes on Jeudy (overrated) and Sutton (this year’s Cooper Kupp) in FantasyPros’ dynasty draft kit.
I also have a lengthy Twitter thread on the topic as my pinned tweet.
Courtland Sutton is this year's Cooper Kupp #FantasyFootball
a thread…🧵 pic.twitter.com/zRFyklCd8W
— Andrew Erickson™ (@AndrewErickson_) March 31, 2022
It makes sense to draft only one of Jeudy or Sutton in a Broncos stack – and hope the one you choose truly has the significant breakout. There’s also a case to be made that if one fails to meet expectations, it comes at the benefit of the other Broncos WRs – Tim Patrick (WR57) and K.J. Hamler (WR82).
For me, pairing Sutton and Patrick with Russell Wilson (QB7) is the best way to take advantage of Russ’s 35-plus TD passing season.
Despite the same horrible quarterback play, Patrick has out-produced Jeudy the last two seasons and has seen a featured role as a red-zone threat. Patrick’s production last two seasons earned him a three-year, $34.5 million contract extension.
Like it or not, Patrick will be on the field as much – if not more – than Jeudy in 2022. And their two ADPs couldn’t be more different.
Hamler has enticing upside as a speedy slot receiver that could be Wilson’s new version of Tyler Lockett, but he could be a total zero with his inability to stay healthy the past two seasons.
Had it not been for the two-touchdowns game versus Carolina back in 2020 – Hamler would probably be viewed closer to Parris Campbell despite the latter being an actual starter on his offense.
I don’t think it’s necessary to snag Hamler in Broncos stacks, especially if you already have Patrick.
As for the tight end, Albert Okwuegbunam (TE13) tied for the third-highest target rate per route run in the NFL last season (23%). Now entrenched as the presumed full-time starter, the uber-athletic tight end can break out in Year 3.
It bodes well in Albert O’s favor that Noah Fant finished last season as the TE12 while playing in 14 games together.
Other high-priced stacks to target
Buffalo Bills, Los Angeles Chargers, Arizona Cardinals. These teams are all way too cheap with mean ADPs outside the top-12.
I don’t hate the idea of back-filling my best ball roster with a three-man Houston Texans stack – as gross as it initially seems.
The consensus vastly undervalues Davis Mills (QB29) despite a lot going in his camp heading into Year 2. Texans have so much draft capital to build around him for him to take a step forward. They have been vocal about adding OL and WR in the draft, specifically to help Mills.
And Mills showed out towards the latter portion of the season. The Stanford product turned it on over the final five weeks of the 2021 season, finishing with a 9-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio while averaging a respectable 17.4 fantasy points per game.
His passer rating from a clean pocket ranked first among all rookie QBs last season. Mills also posted just as many 300-yard passing games (4) as Aaron Rodgers and all the other rookie QBs combined.
And for his final act, Mills fueled a 7-113-2 stat line for a 36-year-old Danny Amendola in Week 18 of the 2021 season.
Mills still has so much room for growth, considering he’s only started 22 games combined at the college and professional level. For perspective, 2022 NFL Draft quarterback prospect Kenny Pickett has started 49 games over five years at Pitt.
Brandin Cooks (WR32) is underrated every season, and 2022 is no different, even though he finished the 2021 season as the WR20 (WR22 points per game).
Cooks has finished worse than the fantasy WR20 only once since 2015, and that was due to injury. He has eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards six times with four different teams during that span.
At just 28 years old, Cooks shows little signs of slowing down. Last season, he was a target and air yards hog, finishing fourth in air yards share (36%) and ninth in target share (24%).
And during the final four games of the season with Mills at quarterback, Cooks was top-10 in fantasy points per game (15.0) to go along with a top-5 target rate per route run (33%).
More competition will hurt Cooks’ fantasy ceiling, but there’s no guarantee a rookie will immediately supplant one of the NFL’s most underrated receivers from the get-go.
The third part of the Texans’ stack is tight end Brevin Jordan (TE29). The Miami product enjoyed a decent rookie season, finishing with a 19% target rate per route run and four top-12 weekly finishes over his last nine games.
Jordan also dominated the receiving usage over the team’s last two games, running 40 routes to Pharaoh Brown‘s 18 and Anthony Auclair’s five. It’s a great sign that Jordan should lock down the primary receiving role at tight end in Houston, especially with Jordan Akins signing with the New York Giants this offseason.
It’s easy to envision Jordan carving out a solid receiving role in a lackluster receiving corps behind Cooks. He’s an athletic tight end with YAC-ability that I will gladly draft as my second or third tight end across any best ball squad.
I am hesitant about Nico Collins (WR80). I understand that he should open the 2022 season as the de facto No. 2, but that’s only if Houston doesn’t add anyone else. And considering the rhetoric out of Texans camp is the exact opposite, I am not quite ready to pull the trigger on a second-year player who never put together a breakout game as a rookie.
I’m also hesitant to pull the trigger at running back, even though the team added Marlon Mack (RB49) this offseason. News flash, people – Mack signed a 1-year $2 million deal with Houston, and it’s less than the team is paying Rex Burkhead (RB95).
In fact, $2.1 million of Burkhead’s $2.35 million contract is fully guaranteed.
We could easily see Mack released as much as we could see him become the team’s starting running back.
Besides, for stacking purposes, you’d want to target the better pass-catcher of the two, which looks to be Burkhead.
The Texans are a threat to add another running back in the draft, but Burkhead’s receiving role – sixth in route participation the last four weeks of the 2021 season – does provide fantasy value with a team that projects to be playing from behind.
For dynasty, I’d be looking to flip Mack based on the perception that he will provide starting running back fantasy production at some point, and I highly doubt that will be the case with Houston.
Other low-priced stacks to target
NY Giants, Chicago Bears, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars
The Lions’ 19th-ranked mean ADP seems a tad bit aggressive. The idea that 2022’s version of (QB30) Jared Goff can support three fantasy-viable weapons between D’Andre Swift (RB10), Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR31), and T.J. Hockenson (TE7) seems far-fetched.
Swift was RB12 in points per game (half-point scoring) in 13 games before his injury. Meanwhile, Hockenson was TE6 in points per game in 12 games before his injury.
But these standings all came before Amon-Ra St. Brown’s epic finish to the season. He was the WR3 in PPR/points per game -33% target share – without Hockenson or Swift in the lineup. Before that, he was a non-factor outside a stretch from Weeks 4-6, where he commanded a 22% target share. Swift’s numbers didn’t alter during that particular cluster of games, but Hockenson’s production fell with St. Brown matching his targets.
Simply put, for Swift and Hockenson to just meet ADP, St. Brown has to essentially fall back into irrelevance. And I don’t think that happens after what he displayed during his rookie season.
The path for upside St. Brown showed last season is what we should be pursuing in the Lions’ offense, which means stacking is a no-go. ASB smashed because Hockenson and Swift went down, and I’d bet a similar outcome plays out in 2022 if any of them suffer another injury – to the benefit of whichever player(s) stays healthy.
Ergo, draft one Lion if you so choose and move on. I hope they are the one that survives the injury attrition of an NFL season.
I’d also stay far away from D.J. Chark (WR61). His vertical game with Goff does not project well. Goff’s average depth of throw has decreased over the last four seasons, with his most recent 2021 mark (6.8) ranking dead last among 38 qualifying quarterbacks.
During Chark’s fantasy WR17 season in 2019, he ranked sixth in the NFL in catches of 20-plus air yards (13) before his injury. Goff has averaged 13 completions of 20-plus air yards the last two seasons.
Chark screams like he will be used more like a vertical field stretcher decoy that will open up targets for St. Brown, running backs, and tight ends underneath.
The Lions also have the draft capital to add a wide receiver in the second round, making Chark and Reynolds extremely fringe fantasy prospects.
RB Jamaal Williams‘ (RB57) playful personality mic’d up will be fun to watch as he tries to hold off Craig Reynolds, Jermar Jefferson, and Godwin Igwebuike from eating into his beta role behind D’Andre Swift in the backfield.
Reynolds is the biggest threat to earn work on early downs after he finished last season third in yards after contact per attempt (3.9) on the back of nearly 200 rushing yards in two spot starts in 2021.
On the other hand, Williams was a complete dud down the stretch for the Lions, starting in relief of an injured Swift. Despite a mammoth workload – 17.2 touches per game – the former Packers’ RB fell flat in the fantasy department.
He averaged 8.9 fantasy points per game as the RB36. Woof, and I’m not sold that Williams is the clear-cut RB2 to own in Detroit.
Other low-priced stacks to fade
Tennessee Titans, Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks
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