The fundamentals of stacking are simple but have league-winning ramifications if done correctly. Most fantasy teams exit a draft with few (if any) players on the same team from the early-to-mid rounds. To win a best ball league, your roster needs to hit on most of its early picks. That means that most teams start their season with a 10-leg parlay that needs eight legs to hit in order to win their league. Stacking links the pieces of that parlay together.
A fantasy roster with a quarterback, receiver and tight end from the same team is largely placing a single bet on the offense as a whole, greatly reducing the correct decisions needed to win the league. Assembling a group of players that can take down 11 other rosters isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to be random either. Stacking streamlines the process of building a juggernaut team. Which teams should you look to go all-in on this year? Awesemo’s rankings have the answers.
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3. Pittsburgh Steelers
Remember Big Ben? He was Pretty Good.
Ben Roethlisberger is listed near his ADP in our rankings and has multiple weapons worth selecting well ahead of their current draft positions. Roethlisberger himself has top-three upside as evidenced by his No. 3 finish in 2018. He led the league with 5,129 passing yards but was still efficient, netting 7.3 adjusted yards per attempt on the year. If he’s healthy, expect Roethlisberger to regain a large portion of that 2018 role. He’s one of the best passers to stack in best ball or in season-long leagues because he could exist at the peak of volume while not running the risk of bottoming out due to erratic efficiency.
Best Ball Stacking Options
James Conner is thought of as a bruising, between-the-tackles back, but he finished eighth among backs in targets per game at 5.5 two years ago. Overall, his 21.5 points per game were seventh best in 2018. He’s a three-down back that just needs a viable offense around him to create space. With Roethlisberger back in the fold this year, he’s in line for a bounce-back campaign.
After Conner, Awesemo’s rankings like stacking Roethlisberger with the ancillary pieces. James Washington led Pittsburgh with 735 receiving yards last year. He also bested Diontae Johnson in yards per target (9.3) and yards per route run (2.1). It’s fine to like Johnson more than Washington. He did lead the team in receptions and touchdowns. However, the ADP disparity between the two is absurd. Also, he did this once.
James Washington's stiff arm had his defender stumbling 💪
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 24, 2019
Eric Ebron is in line to be the starting tight end for a high-volume offense and has a history as a red zone weapon. With Andrew Luck under center in 2018, Ebron totaled 14 scores. He has the potential for another touchdown-heavy season in Pittsburgh this year.
2. Los Angeles Rams
Best Ball Gold
Fantasy drafters are fundamentally misunderstanding the conceit of the Los Angeles offense. Jared Goff declined in every meaningful metric last year, including a 1.5 adjusted yards per attempt drop-off. However, this largely set him up to sling the ball around with reckless abandon. The Rams passing rate jumped to a league-high 77% when trailing last year. When they were losing by a touchdown or more, Los Angeles was the fastest team in the league, running a play every 20.8 seconds. Sean McVay plastered over Goff’s mediocre passing with volume, and that’s worth buying into.
The Los Angeles offense produced the No. 4 overall receiver (Cooper Kupp), No. 14 receiver (Robert Woods) and the No. 8 tight end (Tyler Higbee). Whether or not they were winning games doesn’t directly matter for fantasy football. Losing games might even be more beneficial, and the best ball format eliminates any risk of missing out on these games.
Higbee vs. Kupp
Higbee and Kupp were at odds last year. They rarely went off in the same week and their snap shares were very negatively correlated. However, the Rams traded Brandin Cooks, who was busy running useless routes and taking up 72.2% of the team’s snaps. Replacing his snaps with a split of Kupp’s and Higbee’s will also be better for the offense as a whole; both averaged more yards per target and yards per route run than Cooks.
Higbee and Kupp will combine to replace Cooks and make the offense more efficient in the process. Taking both is risky, but there are many reasons to believe that they can coexist and both be values in fantasy drafts.
Another way to get a unique Rams stack is to throw in Darrell Henderson. Henderson flopped in his rookie season but left Memphis with 63 catches for 758 yards and eight scores. If he’s going to find a place in the NFL, it will likely be as a third-down back. That would make him a beneficiary of the passing-onslaught version of Los Angeles and a sneaky stacking option with Goff as well.
Woods is the most secure in his role. He topped eight targets in 10 games and played on 90% or more of his team’s snaps in 11 games. His ceiling isn’t the same as Kupp’s, but Woods is still a great value play in the middle rounds of drafts. Overall, Goff-Woods-Kupp/Higbee should be the default Rams best ball stack. Take all four or mix in Henderson for a contrarian tournament stack.
1. New England Patriots
Cam Still has Juice
The Patriots are easy to rag on as a team filled with high-floor, low-ceiling fantasy options. That is true in some cases, but the offense is loaded with value and still has some upside options available. First off, if Cam Newton isn’t completely washed, he’s going to return value. Before 2019, Newton averaged 7.6 rush attempts per game. Over a full season, that would be 121 carries, good for second in the league last year.
Newton also upped his passing game during his final healthy season. In 2018, he recorded his first positive season by completion percentage over expectation (+2.5%) and completed 68.4% of his throws. Newton has always been erratic deep so dropping his average depth of target to 7.2 worked wonders for his efficiency.
Now he’s playing on a team loaded with short and intermediate threats, catering to his skill set. Both Julian Edelman and James White are values based on their projected roles within the offense because of this.
Lastly, even N’Keal Harry has the potential to turn a profit in 2020. Harry broke out as a true freshman at Arizona State and finished his career with back-to-back seasons of 1,000 yards. His rookie season was a flop, but New England has no receiver depth behind Edelman. Harry is a strong breakout candidate this year given his 159 ADP. His production might be spiky as the third option on his offense, but best ball leagues optimizing your roster weekly will smooth out the variance in his production.
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