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Best Ball Playoff Week Stacking (2022 Fantasy Football)

by Derek Brown | @dbro_ffb | Featured Writer
Aug 4, 2022
Dalvin Cook

Best ball is an exciting format that has exploded in popularity over the last few years. Fantastic best ball sites like Underdog Fantasy have been leading the charge. Best ball is not a solved Rubik’s Cube, but with a tidal wave of sharp content in the space like our best ball kit, the need for focusing on micro edges is even more necessary.

Attacking large field tournaments like Best Ball Mania III with over 450,000 entrants in the hope of taking down the colossal two million dollar prize up top takes a mix of luck, skill and some small galaxy braining. 

Let’s check some of those boxes today.

Fantasy Football Redraft Draft Kit

Matchup Correlations

Surveying the best ball landscape, there are some differences in contest structure across the different platforms. While many deal with the same length of time during the season (Weeks 1-17), how the winners are crowned differs. On many sites, total points accrued by your team is the avenue of choice. While on Underdog Fantasy, there’s another layer as Weeks 15-17 are subdivided into their own tournament that is whittled down to crowning a final winner after Week 17. 

In each format, the approach is to make correlated bets by “stacking” players in various ways. This can be done by taking a macro approach and targeting teams that play each other in these weeks by surveying the schedule grid below. With this, the onus is usually placed on Week 17. If you target the correct two players or coordinate stacks that go off in a particular game, you could find yourself backstroking through money like Scrooge McDuck. 

NFL Schedule Grid Weeks 15-17

TEAM 15 16 17
ARI @DEN TB @ATL
ATL @NO @BAL ARI
BAL @CLE ATL PIT
BUF MIA @CHI @CIN
CAR PIT DET @TB
CHI PHI BUF @DET
CIN @TB @NE BUF
CLE BAL NO @WSH
DAL @JAX PHI @TEN
DEN ARI @LAR @KC
DET @NYJ @CAR CHI
GB LAR @MIA MIN
HOU KC @TEN JAX
IND @MIN LAC @NYG
JAX DAL @NYJ @HOU
KC @HOU SEA DEN
LV NE @PIT SF
LAR @GB DEN @LAC
LAC TEN @IND LAR
MIA @BUF GB @NE
MIN IND NYG @GB
NE @LV CIN MIA
NO ATL @CLE @PHI
NYG @WSH @MIN IND
NYJ DET JAX @SEA
PHI @CHI @DAL NO
PIT @CAR LV @BAL
SF @SEA WSH @LV
SEA SF @KC NYJ
TB CIN @ARI CAR
TEN @LAC HOU DAL
WSH NYG @SF CLE

Digging deeper into schedule intricacies, the NFL has gifted us two beautiful and easy correlations to weave into our player exposures. The first is stacking players from Minnesota, New York (Giants) and Indianapolis all on one squad. Each of these teams plays each other twice during this hallowed three-week stretch, with many of the games having strong totals. 

Team Weeks 15-17 Opponents (Projected Game Totals)
MIN IND (48.5) NYG (47) GB (45.5)
NYG WAS (43) MIN (47) IND (43.5)
IND MIN (48.5) LAC (50) NYG (43.5)

*All projected game totals for Weeks 15-17 courtesy of Superbook.com*

With each of these best ball nuggets, the name of the game is, “how do I apply this?” So let’s make this actionable with a list of players I’m targeting early and late (outside the top-100 players) in Underdog drafts, in addition to Kirk Cousins, Daniel Jones, and Matt Ryan.

And no, attaching these three quarterbacks to these stacks is not a must. You can, but it’s not a must. I will include them in my player exposures while also layering these mini-skill player correlations around main stacks from other NFL teams. 

Players to Target in Best Ball

Teams Inside the top 100 in ADP Outside the Top 100 in ADP
MIN Justin Jefferson, Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen Alexander Mattison, K.J. Osborn, Irv Smith
NYG Saquon Barkley, Kadarius Toney Wan’Dale Robinson, Daniel Bellinger
IND Jonathan Taylor, Michael Pittman Alec Pierce, Parris Campbell

*All ADP referenced per Underdog Fantasy*

While we’re deep into the schedule rabbit hole, I also have to mention another scheduling quirk during best ball crunch time. The Baltimore Ravens vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Kansas City Chiefs vs. the Denver Broncos are the only matchups that occur in Week 14, with rematches in Week 17. Stacking Ravens and Steelers or Chiefs and Broncos and even on the same team is not only possible, but it could be one of the skeleton keys to the best ball promise land in 2022. Adding extra correlation to your teams for the week before tournament teams are cemented and during the championship week feels like an overlooked cheat code.

CTAs

Target High Projected Game Totals 

# of games with projected totals 48 or higher Weeks 15-17 NFL Teams
3 DAL, ARI, LAC, TB
2 GB, IND, DEN, KC, LVR, LAR, TEN

*All projected game totals for Weeks 15-17 courtesy of Superbook.com*

We cherish shootout games. Targeting possible barn burners in crunch time is the way. While this might upset the scheduling correlating best ball overlords, it’s another point of attack.

Yes, the large majority of these teams listed are among the best offenses in the NFL. Aggressively targeting players, especially from DAL, ARI, LAC and TB, could lead to different ceiling week pairings versus the field. 

Target Zone Coverage-Centric Defenses

Teams* DVOA vs. TE DVOA vs. pass-catching RB
LAR 4th 24th
PHI 27th 17th
CIN 24th 19th
NO 6th 3rd
TB 19th 22nd
ATL 22nd 11th
GB 28th 23rd
KC 17th 26th
MIA 30th 9th
LVR 12th** 6th**
WAS 8th 21st

Statistics per Football Outsiders

*Teams with two or more outside corners ranking inside the top 50 in zone coverage snaps, per PFF*

**Patrick Graham’s NYG defense 2021**

# of games against zone-heavy defenses NFL Teams
3 NE
2 GB, NO, BUF, ARI, DEN, SF, CLE

OK. Seriously, spreadsheet nerd, why does this matter? Even true NFL fans with fresh-cut Bermuda and dirt in their hands can appreciate how offenses attack certain defensive schemes. 

Of the 11 teams listed above that love their zone defense, 81% of them finished last season 22nd or lower in DVOA against pass-catching running backs or tight ends. Zooming out even further, over the last five years, the bottom 12 teams in DVOA against receiving backs have ranked inside the top 12 in receiving yards allowed to the position at a 63% clip, with tight ends coming at 57%. Each of these teams, except the Raiders, have not switched defensive coordinators this offseason, so we should see a healthy amount of zone in their 2022 future. The Raiders still apply to this bucket, though, as new defensive coordinator, Patrick Graham, has also run zone-heavy schemes with the Giants. 

While rankings against these specific receivers can vary year to year, zone-centric teams allow production through the air to one of these two positions yearly. With that in mind, nearly every team in line to face off against a large amount of zone in Weeks 15-17 has a variety of ways to pair up their pass-catching backs and tight ends throughout drafts. If we are accounting for teams to be below average against one of these positions through the air, we can get creative with how we stack these weeks. 

Players to Target in Best Ball

Teams Inside the top 100 in ADP Outside the Top 100 in ADP
NE Rhamondre Stevenson Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith, James White, Pierre Strong
GB Aaron Jones, A.J. Dillon Robert Tonyan
NO Alvin Kamara  Adam Trautman, Mark Ingram
BUF N/A James Cook, Dawson Knox
ARI James Conner Zach Ertz, Darrel Williams, Eno Benjamin, Trey McBride
DEN Javonte Williams Albert Okwuegbunam, Melvin Gordon, Greg Dulcich
SF George Kittle, Elijah Mitchell Tyrion Davis-Price, Jeff Wilson
CLE Kareem Hunt David Njoku, Harrison Bryant

*All ADP referenced per Underdog Fantasy*

We’ve discussed various approaches in this article regarding Weeks 15-17, and I warned you that some were more galaxy-brained than others. When dealing with large field sizes for high payout best ball tournaments, it’s essential to build your teams wisely while also realizing that to get first place, you’ll have to think outside the box some along the way. Good luck, and enjoy drafting.


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