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This slate is gross, so we will need to work harder to find our edge opposed to capitulating ourselves to whoever is at the top of ADP while we’re on the clock.
Due to the number of bad teams and bad matchups and low Vegas totals, we’re left without many attractive game environments and instead are left piecing together one off players with our “skinny stacks” (one QB paired with one teammate, usually a WR).
Some of these skinny stacks, however, are primo. Rarely in the 2022 season have players been able to so easily stack Travis Kelce with Patrick Mahomes, Stefon Diggs with Josh Allen, and A.J. Brown with Jalen Hurts. Roughly 1 out of every 2 drafts contains these pairings. More often than not, these stacks are obtained in succession - round one and round two. To offer yourself a unique lineup, you may opt to push out your stack pairing by a round or two. Your draft lobby may not be inclined to take your stack partner as they’re likely targeting their own player’s QBs. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it’s something to keep in mind this week.
Best Picks at ADP: Josh Allen, Geno Smith, Jared Goff
Favorite Undrafted: Tom Brady, Tyler Huntley, Daniel Jones
Best Picks at ADP: Derrick Henry, Tony Pollard, Dalvin Cook, Nick Chubb, Joe Mixon, Ezekiel Elliot, D’Andre Swift
Favorite Undrafted: Miles Sanders, Travis Etienne Jr., D’Onta Foreman, Isaiah Pacheco, Kenneth Walker
Best Picks at ADP: Justin Jefferson, DK Metcalf, Tee Higgins
Favorite Undrafted: Mike Evans, Deebo Samuel, DJ Moore, Jerry Jeudy
Best Picks at ADP: Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, TJ Hockenson
Favorite Undrafted: Noah Fant, Dawson Knox, Greg Dulcich
The highest game total on the slate is not this AFC South clash. That title would belong to the Vikings @ Lions. This game does, however, offer some excellent value for the players involved. Derrick Henry is a 7.9 ADP as of Wednesday night, the RB1 at that. Per Underdog Fantasy’s very own Hayden Winks, Derrick Henry has averaged 145 rushing yards and 2.0 rushing touchdowns in his last 6 games vs. Jacksonville. Seeing as the Titans are unlikely to have Treylon Burks for this matchup, they’re now even more inclined to lean on Henry in this matchup. The Titans are current 4 point favorites at home.
The Jaguars offer some appeal on the other side of this game with their passing game. Trevor Lawrence isn’t likely to “break the slate” with a 30 point game, however he offers some upside against a vulnerable Titans pass defense who just ceded 380 yards in the air to Jalen Hurts, his largest passing yard total by 40 yards. The concern for this offense is how much time will the Titans take off the clock with their run game, which is something I am not overly concerned with given the way both of these defenses have looked. Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, and Evan Engram are all in play this week at their respective positions.
I’m going right back to the well with this stack. The Giants own PFFs 31st worst coverage grade, and the 28th ranked Pass DVOA in the NFL. While the Giants Rush defense isn’t much better, I think the Eagles gash them for big plays through the air.
Admittedly I don’t love targeting teams coming off their bye week (CAR) but SEA has one of the most condensed offenses in football, will be down to their 3rd or 4th-string RB and has the highest PROE over the last 5 weeks (only behind CIN). Pair all that with the fact that CAR has given up the 2nd most fpts per target to perimeter WRs this season, and you can catch me routinely drafting SEA stacks in a lobby near you.
Mixon has been the spreadsheet virgin poster boy for “the usage will eventually lead to fpts, right?” And it did, for one game, one massive slate-breaking 5 touchdown game. But outside of that, Mixon’s results have been pedestrian. But here I go again, smashing “draft” on Mixon, with the 3rd highest team total on the slate in a matchup versus CLE who ranks 31st in Run D DVOA.
Admittedly, it scares me though. My football guy brain is screaming CIN is the highest PROE team on the slate (last 5 weeks), Perine’s recent play has likely earned him an expanded role, especially in the pass game, and assuming Zac Taylor turns to the ground in this matchup is an assumption of rational coaching which I shouldn’t be making.
All this to say, the spreadsheet says yes, my heart says “I know better.” But even at his new price tag, Mixon represents great leverage off his higher ADP teammates Chase, Higgins and Burrow and has a path to a Battle Royale winning ceiling that few players offer especially in the mid-20’s ADP range.
Godwin is in line for double digit targets nearly every game. He has seen double digit targets in every week since week 6, except one where he had 8 targets. Per PFF, The 49ers run the 5th highest zone coverage rate in the NFL. That should bode well for Godwin in this matchup.
Positive touchdown regression has to be coming for TB, doesn’t it? I know a matchup versus SF isn’t the most ideal spot to go hunting for it but leverage in this contest is often very uncomfortable. If I notice that the field is routinely chasing auxiliary components in good game environments in the 6th round like Tyler Boyd, DJ Chark, Adam Thielen, etc. (all fine plays in their own right), I’ll start deviating to chase talent in bad game environments. Zig when they zag. Evans and White are exactly that, a bet on talent on an underperforming team in a bad matchup. The narrative on Evans would likely be very different right now if he had hauled in a couple touchdowns on those 60+ yard drops and PI plays.
The Texans are a complete dumpster fire and the Cowboys are 17.5 favorites at home. The Texans are awful in all aspects of their defense, but they are consistently gash on the ground. The Cowboys have the 5th ranked Run offense in the NFL and I expect them to establish it early and often. While Lamb can still get there, the game environment and game script has me feeling skittish with a top 10 ADP.
With the prevalence of premium stacks this week, one obvious path to diversification is through unique stacking partners with premium QBs. Example being, instead of Josh Allen + Stefon Diggs, we mix in Josh Allen + 6th round Isaiah McKenzie? No one is going to be convinced that Allen + McKenzie is a better projectable play than Allen + Diggs, but in a one game sample, it could be if Sauce Gardner puts the clamps on Diggs. We have to get creative, think outside the conventional box to give ourselves paths to the overall prize.
Our goal in drafts can’t always be to create a “super team” but rather to find leverage over the field in a logical manner.
Here are a few ways we’re doing that via Stacking:
Mahomes + JuJu instead of Kelce
Goff + Swift or Chark instead of ARSB
Burrow + Boyd or Mixon instead of Chase and/or Higgins
Dak + Gallup instead of Pollard, Zeke, Lamb or Schultz
Cousins + Thielen instead of, or with one of, Jefferson or Hockenson
The “bring-back” is a correlation principle for roster construction which suggests that if a large number of points are being scored in a given game environment, in theory, the reason that is taking place is because both offenses are being pushed by one another to score more. Therefore, if you’re building a stack for a game, which we assume is going to be high scoring, it often makes sense to incorporate an offensive opponent as well. To use the previous example, if Allen + Diggs is our main stack, a logical bring-back option would be Garrett Wilson. The problem is with this knowledge being commonplace, bring-back options become somewhat obvious and frequently duplicated.
Our goal in these drafts is to create logical positive correlation patterns that are unique from our opponents.
Here are a few ways we’re doing that via Bring-backs:
Allen + Diggs + instead of Wilson - Knight, Moore or Davis
Goff + ARSB + instead of Cook or Hockenson - Thielen
Brady + Evans/Godwin/White + instead of CMC/Kittle - Deebo or Aiyuk
Hurts + AJB/Smith + instead of Barkley - Slayton, Bellinger or Daniel Jones off just WR
Mahomes + Kelce + instead of no one or Dulcich - Murray or Jeudy