Fantasy Life Roundtable. Expert Guide to Stacking in Best Ball.
The Fantasy Life staff loves best ball. You draft and…that’s it! Seriously, name a better annual pastime during the summer months, we’ll wait.
While disciples of Professor Pete are well aware of just how important correlation and stacking are over at Underdog Fantasy, everyone has different ideas about which specific players and stacks will wind up as the most profitable in 2023.
We’ve published our most-rostered players already but haven’t quite peeled back the curtain on our respective stacking strategies. So what could be a better way to find out the Fantasy Life staff’s favorite stacking principles than by engaging in a best ball roundtable?
What is your highest-owned team stack so far?
My biggest stack position is Geno Smith (16%) to Jaxon Smith-Njigba (20%). I think the market is still somehow undervaluing JSN’s insane prospect profile. He’s going to be the alpha on this team by the end of the year, so if that thesis turns out to be true, stacking him with Smith (who is always available in the ninth or 10th round) would give me tournament-winning upside in the playoff weeks.
For me, it’s Justin Herbert (19%) and Quentin Johnston (42%). I love the upside of this Chargers' passing attack under new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and how Herbert and Johnston could gel based on their skill sets.
Herbert also still feels like the best discount among the top-eight QBs with a mid-fourth round ADP considering that he has the second-shortest betting odds to lead the league in passing yards in 2023.
My highest-owned stack is the late-round pairing of Jordan Love (15%) and Jayden Reed (22%). I think the ceiling of this Packers offense is being underestimated, and these two players in particular have been too cheap all summer. Love is certainly a risky pick, but with an ADP of 160th overall, it's hard to pass on him that late.
With Reed and Luke Musgrave going after Love, it’s also easy to get a backdoor stack when needed. Add in the fact that Green Bay faces what looks like an incredibly soft group of defenses from Weeks 15 to 17 (home against Tampa Bay, at Carolina, and at Minnesota), and I don’t see any reason to back off these cheap Packers stacks.
My highest-owned stack thus far is…Russell Wilson (11%) and Tim Patrick (20%) *breaks out into tears*. Luckily, I still have plenty of exposure to Marvin Mims (18%) and Jerry Jeudy (15%), so the ole bank account won’t be looking too bleak if Broncos country does decide to start riding this season.
This decision to bet on Denver stems from the belief that no offense is expected to make a bigger leap in scoring than the Broncos when it comes to their game-by-game Vegas totals. And yet, Wilson is still being priced far closer to his floor than his ceiling.
Wilson also flashed at the end of last season with three top-five fantasy QB finishes in his final four starts, so I’m buying into the idea that longtime offensive mastermind Sean Payton will be able to get far more out of this group in 2023.
Aug 11, 2023; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) celebrates a long gain during the first quarter against the Washington Commanders at Cleveland Browns Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
I can’t stop drafting Deshaun Watson (17%) and Elijah Moore (21%). Watson is my favorite bet to post a top-five QB season while offering a price tag in Round 7 or later, which could make him a massive value considering that the elite QBs are being drafted earlier than ever in 2023.
Moore was an absolute bust in Year 2, but I just can’t get those three top-10 WR finishes over his final seven games as a rookie out of my head. Of course, when drafting from a later position from 1.06 to 1.12, Watson and Moore also offer a fun game stack with Garrett Wilson and Breece Hall.
My most-owned stack right now is Kirk Cousins (40%) and Jordan Addison (20%). The Vikings finished sixth in pass rate over expectation (PROE) in 2022 with Cousins finishing as the fantasy QB7, and yet he has an ADP of QB13 this offseason. And Addison, who had the 11th-best yards per route run (YPRR) among all college WRs last year, already projects as the intermediate yards-after-the-catch (YAC) threat the Vikings needed opposite Justin Jefferson.
Plus, as I’ve leaned on WR-heavy builds, I typically draft Addison as my fourth WR to take advantage of his growth throughout his rookie season.
What stack do you not have much of that you want more of?
I need more Justin Fields (4%) and D.J. Moore (7%). I don’t have a good excuse for not clicking Fields more except that he generally goes in an ADP range where I’m taking WRs. Both Fields and Moore will never look great from a median projection standpoint relative to their cost, but they clearly possess week-winning upside that needs to be a staple in best ball portfolios.
I would really like to get more Geno Smith (6%) and D.K. Metcalf (9%) or Tyler Lockett (6%) stacks before the season starts. I’ve avoided Smith for the simple reason that I like pairing Darren Waller (20%) with Daniel Jones (20%), who has an ADP similar to Smith, but Smith’s weekly floor is going to be elite due how good his WR room is.
Jan 9, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) celebrates a catch that was ruled incomplete with teammate quarterback Josh Allen (17) against the New York Jets during the first half at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
I’m starting to get pretty nervous about how little Josh Allen (2%) I have. I’ve been drafting Stefon Diggs (8%) and Dawson Knox (7%) a reasonable amount but haven’t found myself willing to pay up for Allen. He clearly has a huge weekly ceiling, but I’m below the field on all the elite QBs (except Lamar Jackson), and Allen is my least favorite of that group. He also rarely seems to fall much past ADP, so I almost always like multiple players more when I am on the clock in Round 2 or 3. I don’t like going into drafts with a set plan, but I'm definitely consciously trying to build some Allen stacks before the season begins.
I'm not going to lie: it's a bit terrifying to be so low on Jalen Hurts (2%) and A.J. Brown (4%). I don't hate them; it's just that it's so expensive to stack the top-two Eagles this year with Brown being a late first-round pick and Hurts rarely dropping past the early third round, if that.
The ability to get DeVonta Smith and Hurts at the Round 2-3 turn is a bit more feasible, but even then, it's hardly a guarantee. Ultimately, I’ve refrained from forcing an elite QB in the first three rounds unless the board just happens to fall perfectly.
It's time to make sure I get some extra exposure these next few weeks to an Eagles passing attack that quietly ranked 10th in pass rate over expectation last season. The fantasy ceiling for Philadelphia's offense is incredibly high, especially if their defense were to take a step back in 2023.
I've been drafting Tyreek Hill (9%) and Jaylen Waddle (9%) fairly often, but I only have Tua Tagovailoa on 5% of my teams. While I have some concerns about Tua's ability to stay healthy, if we're drafting Hill and Waddle, we're already betting on Tua’s health.
I don’t want to force Tua ahead of ADP, but I will if I need to toward the last couple of weeks of drafting in order to get stack exposure to a Miami offense with sky-high upside.
I wish I had more Darren Waller (11%) and Daniel Jones (13%) stacks. Jones’s ADP (116.4 overall) falls in a similar range to that of other QBs I prefer (e.g., Kirk Cousins, Dak Prescott, and Geno Smith). And my lack of exposure to Waller was more of a function of my draft priorities.
At his ADP, I typically looked for WRs or RBs and convinced myself that TEs like Dallas Goedert or Pat Freiermuth were arbitrage solutions. But neither Goedert nor Freiermuth projects for the massive target share that Waller could see in 2023, so I've been reaching a bit to grab more shares of Waller in recent drafts.
What popular stack are you fading for the 2023 season?
I’m going to end up way underweight on Patrick Mahomes (4%) and Travis Kelce (5%) stacks. Kelce is my least-selected player with a Round 1 ADP, and Mahomes rarely falls to Round 3. I’m going to be underweight the elite QBs as a whole, but at least Jalen Hurts and Josh Allen occasionally fall past ADP, unlike Mahomes.
The Chiefs' duo could certainly give us an encore of last year's dominant run, but I’m willing to bet against it at those prices.
Trevor Lawrence (4%) and Calvin Ridley (4%) are two players I’ll likely be well underweight on. Ridley is a tough valuation to begin with, and his ADP has been rising as of late. I prefer hunting for value WRs in Lawrence’s ADP range rather than forcing a Jaguars stack. I'm also happy to just wait and draft Anthony Richardson (35%) later if I haven’t taken a QB before Round 5.
I've been drafting a lot of the Chargers pass-catchers but have mostly been doing it without Justin Herbert (3%). I have 10% or more of Quentin Johnston, Mike Williams, and Gerald Everett, but it’s been a tough sell for me to take Herbert at ADP.
My philosophy has been to bet on this offense through the skill position players and then either pay up for a proven dual-threat QB or wait for a QB that I like more at a later ADP.
Dec 24, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb (88) celebrates with Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) after scoring a touchdown during the first half against the Philadelphia Eagles at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Dak Prescott (3%) and CeeDee Lamb (8%) simply haven’t been a combo I’ve actively gone out of my way to get this offseason. Maybe head coach Mike McCarthy's declaration to run the damn ball more won't come true, but either way, Prescott has been less prone to running the ball since suffering a broken ankle in 2020, which limits his fantasy ceiling.
Add in the fact that the Cowboys have a lethal defense and added WR talent this offseason, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Lamb and Prescott don't quite light up scoreboards the way fantasy managers are hoping this coming year due to fewer targets for Lamb and fewer pass attempts for the Dallas offense as a whole.
I'm in the same boat as Pete on this one. I've drafted Kelce only slightly less than the field (7%), but my exposure to Mahomes is a scarily low 2%. This offseason, I just haven’t been able to force myself to click on the stack very often due to the opportunity cost, and I don’t see that changing.
If the Chiefs are what we need to dominate in 2023, then I'm going to be in rough shape. Much of my 2023 strategy centers around finding QBs that go later in drafts to offset the highly-priced elite options so that I can load up on WRs and RBs in the first two rounds.
It pains me to say this as a Bengals fan, but I’ve yet to stack Ja’Marr Chase or Tee Higgins with Joe Burrow on a single best ball roster this offseason. I have plenty of both Chase and Higgins, but I’ve had a hard time clicking on Burrow at ADP, and it’s not because of the calf injury.
I realize that Burrow set career-highs in designed attempts last year and had a 4.0% scramble rate, but Justin Herbert had a 4.8% scramble rate when healthy in 2021, and his team was fifth in PROE last year despite his cracked rib. On top of that, the Chargers added another option to their passing attack this offseason. It hurts my soul every time I pass on Burrow, but I’ll take a slight discount on a similar QB with an elite ceiling in Herbert.
What is the most contrarian stack that you love?
I love Sam Howell (17%) to Jahan Dotson (15%) stacks. Howell is one of the few QBs going in the late rounds with legitimate upside thanks to his weapons and rushing ability. Dotson provides a cheaper way to stack up the Commanders compared to Terry McLaurin, whose ADP is 30-plus spots earlier than Dotson's.
We know that Anthony Richardson (35%) has a big arm and that Alec Pierce (15%) is a big, fast ballhawk who profiled with a 90th percentile athletic profile out of college. Even if they flounder at times, the weekly upside for this Colts stack is immense. They’re also very easy to assemble given that Pierce's ADP is 80-plus picks later than Michael Pittman's.
Dec 15, 2022; Seattle, Washington, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (13) celebrates with tight end George Kittle (85) during the late fourth quarter against the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
I’ve cooled off on drafting this one a little bit in recent weeks, but I was taking a lot of Brock Purdy (13%) earlier this summer and pairing him with Deebo Samuel and/or George Kittle frequently.
Under Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers' offense has been incredibly efficient and produced the explosive plays and ceiling performances that make a difference in best ball. Kittle and Samuel are each on 41% of my Purdy teams, and I love the weekly upside that these San Francisco stacks provide.
It hasn’t felt great clicking draft on Kenny Pickett (8%), but when you've drafted as much Diontae Johnson (28%) as I have, something has to give. Ultimately, Johnson is one of “my guys” this coming season thanks to his bounce-back potential and long history of dominating target share, so why not throw some darts on his QB as an upside QB3 late in drafts?
I also just so happen to absolutely love pretty much all the Seahawks' skill position players this year, making this a *chef's kiss* sort of Week 17 game stack between two offenses quietly loaded with explosive offensive playmakers.
Bryce Young’s best upside comp based on my research was (gulp) Joe Burrow when excluding size as a factor. Young is a high-end processor who showed an ability to identify disguised coverage, remain poised under pressure, throw with accuracy downfield, and buy time in the pocket to deliver splash plays outside of structure.
That reads like a checklist of traits we have seen from the best NFL QBs over the past decade, which has led me to a 12% exposure on Young. The Panthers also offer multiple cheap stacking partners in the double-digit rounds, and Jonathan Mingo is my favorite (27%). While Mingo’s profile is littered with red flags, the boom-or-bust rookie WR fits well with Young’s game and will likely be a big factor if Young hits.
It's not my highest-owned stack like it is for Jonathan, but I’ve also been stacking the Packers’ passing game with Love and then either Reed and/or Musgrave late. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve taken Christian Watson and the RBs as well here or there, but Reed (168.1) and Musgrave (188.5) are just so cheap at their respective ADPs and carry fair ceilings considering their talent and projected roles in an uncertain offense.
While I expect Green Bay to take a step back in pass rate in 2023, Reed already figures to be their starting slot WR, and Musgrave is a solid late-round pick, especially for upside in 3TE builds given his athleticism and usage with the first-team already.
What is your favorite Week 17 game stack?
I love the Steelers at Seahawks matchup. I’m rarely leaving Rounds 5 and 6 without at least one of JSN (20%), Tyler Lockett (17%), Diontae Johnson (12%), or George Pickens (10%), which naturally funnels me to later selections built around that game (e.g., Smith and Pickett, Zach Charbonnet, Pat Freiermuth, Jaylen Warren, etc.).
Green Bay at Minnesota in a dome for Week 17 concludes an A+ fantasy playoff schedule for Christian Watson (42%) and Jordan Love (15%) stacks. This Packers stack works even better if you grabbed a Week 17 comeback play like Justin Jefferson or T.J. Hockenson early on. There are also plenty of late-round contrarian options to build out this game stack, such as K.J. Osborn, Ty Chandler, and Luke Musgrave.
I’m with Geoff. My favorite Week 17 game stack is the Packers at Vikings contest, and he summed up the reasons pretty well. I really like both teams' schedules in the fantasy playoffs and the fact that their Week 17 matchup is in a dome.
There are also players that I like in this matchup available in all different ranges of the draft board, so I find it easy to build this game as both a primary stack or secondary stack depending on the draft room.
Drafting Lamar Jackson (10%) is cool and allows the opportunity to (maybe) stack Mark Andrews (4%) in back-to-back picks, but more than likely (ha!) you'll have to settle for Isaiah Likely (25%) in the final round. Luckily, I've managed to get plenty of Jackson's self-proclaimed No. 1 WR Rashod Bateman (19%) at cost. But if you're not careful early in drafts, the only realistic Dolphins bring-back option is De'Von Achane (11%).
I'm not out on Achane, but it'd be much preferred to stack these Ravens with Tyreek Hill (8%) or Jaylen Waddle (9%) in the first two rounds to add some serious firepower to the other side of the ball. It’s a rare situation where both Baltimore and Miami's offenses are expected to be quite good this year, but you have to draft the bring-back before the main stack. Gotta love best ball!
I have a ton of exposure to the Chargers and Broncos Week 17 matchup. Yeah, it could be really cold in Mile High, but oddsmakers expect Denver to take a big step forward on offense this coming season, and at ADP, there are loads of ways to gain access to a stack between two divisional rivals that could be battling for a playoff spot come Week 17. Russell Wilson is my most-drafted QB (17%), and I'm well above the field on Justin Herbert (10%) as well.
I mentioned the Packers and Vikings matchup earlier in the offseason and like targeting this game despite it having a mediocre projected point total (45.5). And most folks remember how much of a dud this matchup was for Justin Jefferson the last time these two teams met. But in a top-heavy tournament, I’ll still bet on being unique and targeting a game some may avoid because of Love and the Packers’ ambiguous passing game.
Minnesota's defense allowed up the 10th-most fantasy QB1 finishes last season and added more talent to their aerial attack on offense. On paper, this contest has shootout potential written all over it, which could help someone bring home $3 million in a few months.
You can tail some of the Fantasy Life Staff's favorite best ball stacks on Underdog Fantasy, where you can also get a 100% deposit match of up to $100 when you sign up with promo code LIFE! Simply sign up below to start drafting today!