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Best Ball: Week 15, 16, & 17 Playoff Stacks to Target (Fantasy Football 2022)

Best Ball: Week 15, 16, & 17 Playoff Stacks to Target (Fantasy Football 2022)
cameraBest Ball: Week 15, 16, & 17 Playoff Stacks to Target (Fantasy Football 2022)

With the NFL schedule finally released in full after the slow drip-feed of games over the last week or two, we can finally focus on the weeks that really matter for tournament best-ball. Scoring the most points of your 12-person league in the regular season is a nice feeling, but if your team isn’t set up for the playoffs, it becomes harder to succeed.

If this is your first year playing tournament best-ball, it’s good to be aware of the basic structure. During the first 14 weeks of the season, you will compete against the eleven other teams you drafted against. Then depending on your platform, the top one or two teams in points scored will progress into the first round of the playoffs in week 15. Typically now you’ll be facing 11 other teams who have all advanced, and you’ll likely have to score the most points of that week to progress to the next round, where the process repeats. After week 16, you’ll head to the final, which is usually a far larger field. Underdog BBM III will have over 400 finalists this year, and it’s not uncommon for finals to feature at least 100 teams. It’s common for many advancing teams to have the same core of players. In 2021 that meant a lot of playoff-bound teams with Cooper Kupp, Jonathan Taylor, and Leonard Fournette, and while it’s important to have drafted these league-winners, our team now has to be different enough to beat out the other league-winners. We can achieve that through many strategies, but one that remains key is stacking.

These one-week playoff rounds are far more similar to DFS than any other form of fantasy, and the key to success in DFS can often be stacks and correlations. Stacks refer to multiple players from one team, and correlation, in this case, refers to one aspect of fantasy football affecting another and, more specifically, players affecting another score. Looking back to 2021, we can see how the top fantasy scorers in week 17 were heavily affected by two games.

Rank Player Position WK17 Fixture PPR points
1 Ja’Marr Chase WR KC @ CIN 55.6
2 Amon-Ra St. Brown WR DET @ SEA 35.4
3 Joe Burrow QB KC @ CIN 34.8
4 Rashaad Penny RB DET @ SEA 32.5
5 DK Metcalf WR DET @ SEA 30.9
6 Davante Adams WR MIN @ GB 30.6
7 Najee Harris RB CLE @ PIT 29.6
8 Russell Wilson QB DET @ SEA 27.8
9 Tom Brady QB TB @ NYJ 26.4
10 Darrell Williams RB KC @ CIN 25.7

Out of the top ten PPR scores, seven of the ten players came from only two different games. Having those players, or a collection of them, was key to taking down championships. Looking ahead to 2022, we can consider which teams might have the explosive matchups required to carry you to a grand prize. While week 17 is the most crucial, resulting in the biggest prizes, fantasy managers can gain edges by considering smaller correlations for the other playoff weeks (weeks 15-16).

Week 17 Stacks to Target

Buffalo Bills @ Cincinnati Bengals

This one is about as exciting as it gets on paper, but it will also be incredibly hard to stack heavily. On Underdog, Stefon Diggs‘s ADP of 11.9 is hard to marry up with Josh Allen‘s 23.3, as well as the fact that Ja’Marr Chase goes around the 1.05 and Tee Higgins often goes in the middle of the third round. We must accept that getting all of the best pieces of this game is next to impossible and instead focus on smaller stacks and correlations.

Suggested targets: Joe Mixon + Stefon Diggs + Gabriel Davis  |  Ja’Marr Chase + Tee Higgins + Gabriel Davis + Dawson Knox

The two suggestions above are all obtainable based on current ADP, and they take a DFS mindset to the week 17 game. The first, featuring Joe Mixon, considers the idea that Bengals score the majority of their points through the ground game that week, which would offer leverage away from popular Bengals stacks. The second suggestion is aimed at having as many pieces as possible from the passing game if the game explodes into a shootout, and fantasy managers can add either quarterback to the mix.

Los Angeles Rams @ Los Angeles Chargers

While the Bills and Bengals game might have caught a lot of attention, this one is the game that has really caught my eye. The Bengals game could experience cold weather in January, but the Rams and Chargers will be at home in L.A. underneath the safety of SoFi Stadium’s dome. Both teams expect to be heading to the playoffs and will be fighting it out for playoff seeding and the affection of L.A. neutrals.

Suggested targets: Cooper Kupp + Keenan Allen + Justin Herbert + Tyler Higbee  |  Austin Ekeler + Gerald Everett + Matthew Stafford + Allen Robinson

With Cooper Kupp and Austin Ekeler going inside the top six picks, it will be nigh on impossible to stack both players, but if you have Kupp, then adding Allen, Herbert and Higbee gives you access to a large portion of any potential shootout points. Meanwhile, if we take Ekeler, we can consider that the Rams will mostly shut down the Chargers’ passing game and rely on Ekeler instead. Adding Everett gives us the possibility that he picks up a red zone target in a scheme that likes to target their tight ends around the red zone and target their tight ends at the ninth-highest rate across the league in total.

Denver Broncos @ Kansas City

The Kansas City Chiefs are more stackable now than they have been for several years, as it’s no longer a case of trying to grab Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, and Patrick Mahomes. Instead, drafters can grab Kelce and Mahomes before easing off and selecting Chiefs players later. This in-division game will feature two teams used to playing outside in cold weather, and both quarterbacks have strong enough arms to deal with any windy conditions. While the Chiefs have been consistent playoff regulars for a few years, the Broncos will be looking to make their first appearance since winning the Super Bowl in 2015. In their last ten meetings, the teams have averaged 44.4 points total, and 50% of those games have gone over 50 points, which is precisely the kind of scoreline we should be hoping for in the best ball finals.

Suggest targets: Travis Kelce + Patrick Mahomes + Jerry Jeudy + Courtland Sutton + Marques Valdes-Scantling  |  Travis Kelce + Javonte Williams + JuJu Smith-Schuster

The first suggestion leans into the idea of an all-out shootout, and drafters can add all of these pieces if you’re picking around the 1.05-1.08 in current drafts on FFPC. On Underdog, it’s a tougher collection to make but not unobtainable if you’re picking around the 1.12. The second suggestion leans into a game theory: the Broncos use their run game heavily against the Chiefs defense that allowed the second-most yards per rush attempt in 2021 (4.8) while containing the outside and deep threats forcing Mahomes to target Kelce and Smith-Schuster heavily.

Week 17 Small Correlations to target

Arizona Cardinals @ Atlanta Falcons

This game takes place in a dome, and neither team has a particularly strong pass defense.

Houston Texans @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Two teams with bad defenses, playing in a warm-weather environment with rivalry on the line.

Week 17 Stacks to Fade

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Baltimore Ravens

This sets up to be a cold game in Baltimore, and the rivalry games between these two often end in scrappy affairs, with the last five games averaging a not too appealing 38.2 points. If you do find yourself stacking either team in a draft, then correlating the stack with one player from the opposing team is a good way to gain some exposure to this game without counting on it too heavily.

New Orleans Saints @ Philadelphia Eagles

The Saints are a dome team who will travel to Philadelphia in what is going to be a much chillier experience than if the schedule reversed the fixture. While Jameis Winston has a passer-rating of over 100 in cold weather games (under 50 degrees), the Saints played slowly last year, and the Eagles also liked to grind out games. Both teams have good secondaries, and on paper, this looks like one to avoid.

Week 15 and 16 targets

While the week 17 targets are the ones that can win you big money, getting to the finals will also take a lot of good results. Stacking both sides of games in weeks 15 and 16 might give you a stronger chance of progressing, but if you pick the wrong teams, you could end up with less than ideal stacks for the final week.

Week 15

Cincinnati Bengals @ Tampa Bay Buccanneers – Both teams feature great passing games, which could be explosive. If you draft Ja’Marr Chase, try adding Mike Evans or Chris Godwin.

L.A. Rams @ Green Bay Packers – While this game could experience some cold weather when the two teams met in late November 2021, they combined for 64 points. If you are stacking the Rams, consider adding one of the cheap Green Bay players around round 10 onwards.

Dallas Cowboys @ Jacksonville Jaguars – The Cowboys travel to Florida for what we would assume won’t be a tough matchup. If you’re drafting Travis Etienne, he sets up perfectly for a game script where the Jaguars could pass heavily when chasing the game, and he can be easily paired with any of the Cowboys pass-catchers.

Week 16

Jacksonville Jaguars @ New York Jets – Neither team projects to have a great defense, despite the additions they have made this offseason, and both teams have many affordable pass-catchers in the mid to late rounds. If you pick up a player from one of these teams, adding a correlating player from the opposing team is worth considering.

Green Bay Packers @ Miami Dolphins – Another warm weather matchup sees the Packers get a respite from the cold. The Dolphins stacks of Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle are a little pricey, but if you’ve added them, adding a Packers player on the other side could propel you to the championship week.

Stacks and correlations shouldn’t force your strategy when drafting, but they are good tie-breakers when choosing between players.


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Tom Strachan is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Tom, check out his archive and follow him on Twitter at @NFL_Tstrack.

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