Best Ball Stacking and Week 17 Strategy

Jun 10th 2022

Hayden Winks

The Week 17 debate in the best ball streets has everyone worked up, so it's best for me to pour all my energy into this topic once, instead of rehashing the debates for the rest of Hot Best Ball Summer.

If you're unfamiliar with the discussion, people are debating the importance of drafting bring back options (read: opposing players) from each player's Week 17 matchup. The two-part theory for the proponents of Week 17 matchup hunting is that:

  1. Most of the Best Ball Mania III and most of the Puppy I prize pools are given out based on scoring in Week 17, after advancing in the regular season and the first two playoff rounds. It will take a massive Week 17 score to take down the $2M grand prize in BBMIII, so we have to build teams with the potential of a spike week.

  2. A big game from one of our drafted players increases the odds of someone from the other team having a big game, too. For example, if Cardinals WR Marquise Brown scores an 80-yard touchdown, then Falcons WR Drake London projects for more catches and yards while chasing points in that Week 17 matchup.

There's no debate that there is bring back correlation -- I wrote about it here. The Week 17 debate is in the nuance of how often to do it, when to do it throughout the draft, and how important that is compared to player archetypes or ADP values.

Like Establish The Run's Mike Leone tweeted, "If you're taking correlation at ADP value, it's a literal freeroll on the correlation mattering. You lose nothing if it doesn't." This is my general stance, too. There's no downside to correlation -- jk, there's actually one small one -- if it's used as a tie-breaker when two similarly-ranked players are at the top of the ADP queue. That means if you have a player ranked in a tier above another, then draft the player in the tier above most of the time. Even when using Week 17 correlation as an advantage, it's completely possible to have lots and lots of player takes. If we like Trevor Lawrence this year, then we can go out of our way to draft him and then build in some Week 17 correlation afterwards. If we don't like Treylon Burks at ADP, then we can pivot to Robert Woods or Austin Hooper as a bring back instead.

The big caveat is to not reach on stacks, especially with bring back options as those picks add less correlation than the actual teammate stack does. Establish The Run's Jack Miller showed how reaching on stacks takes away some of the advantage of getting the stacks at cost. My research backs that up.

To me, the biggest debate is how many of the entries into these tournaments are considering stacking and Week 17 correlation, and when is it best to make some pivots for uniqueness. In general, most of the drafters don't give a flying shit about this stuff. But a bigger chunk will as this goes more mainstream and the drafters who have a better chance of reaching the finals right now are in fact using this strategy. I believe this to be the case after seeing how teammates line up on draft boards in the tables below.

Here are a few ways to add uniqueness in game stacks if you are concerned this is getting too popular (which may or may not even be true in this offseason):

  1. You don't have to add Week 17 or teammate correlation early. There will be a higher proportion of Justin Jefferson teams that will have Aaron Jones because they play each other. Simply skip that while adding some correlation later on, and your team is unique up top.

  2. Instead of always game-stacking your early-round players, consider leaving them as one offs or mini correlations while finding cheaper game stacks. Most of the CeeDee Lamb teams will by locked onto Dak Prescott (rightfully so), but it's possible that Lamb has a good game without Prescott being a top-five quarterback. Lamb paired with a Kyler/Cardinals stack is far, far more unique.

  3. This one might be completely absurd, but let's write about it anyways: Go into a draft aiming for a late-round team/game stack. I theorize that the early/mid round QBs are going earlier and the late-round QBs are going later this year because of more emphasis on stacking. The Burrow/Wilson/Brady/Prescott/Stafford tier is going earlier because Chase/Jeudy/Evans/Lamb/Kupp teams are "reaching" on these QBs. Once a team drafts a semi-early QB, they are less likely to draft a QB3, so the late-round QBs get pushed down. It's kinda a self-fulfilling prophecy. Jared Goff stacks, Mac Jones stacks, and Kenny Pickett stacks will be less popular and could be slightly cheaper than they should be.

I think that's a good place to turn the brain off and get to the usable examples of game stacking....

1. Rams at Chargers (dome and no travel)

The Rams’ passing offense falls right in line: Cooper Kupp (early Round 1), Allen Robinson (Round ⅘ turn), and Matthew Stafford (Round 8/9 if he falls a tiny bit) with Van Jefferson (Round 12) and Tyler Higbee (Round 14) available later on to tie things together. This is one of the few offenses that can push to four combined teammates if it includes two WRs, one QB, and one TE, but I still like the Rams stacked best as Kupp or Robinson with Stafford and Higbee because it takes fewer yards/touchdowns/receptions for Higbee to be a top weekly producer at his position compared to both Kupp and Robinson at much higher costs. … As for bring backs, both Keenan Allen (Round 3) and Mike Williams (Round 3) are totally viable Kupp pairings with my lean towards spiked-week king Big Mike. Isaiah Spiller (Round 12) has contingent-based upside in the event of an Austin Ekeler injury, Joshua Palmer (Round 14) projects as the two if either Chargers WR misses time, and Gerald Everett (Round 15) has touchdown upside in this absolute lock of a shootout.

The Chargers’ are also easily stacked, but it requires more early draft capital with Austin Ekeler (mid Round 1), Keenan Allen (early Round 3), Mike Williams (early Round 3), and Justin Herbert (late Round 4) all going inside the top-45 overall. It’s dangerous to invest too much into one offense this high into drafts and I certainly favor the QB/WR correlation more than the QB/RB correlation, so my favorite way to stack the Chargers is one of Allen or Williams in Round 3 with Herbert following either one of them. The Chargers are also one of the teams that could push to four total pass-catchers if two of them are Joshua Palmer (Round 14) and Gerald Everatt (Round 15) because they’re cheap, but I like it best with Williams + Herbert + Everatt. The way to get more unique in big best ball tournaments (while punting off some mean projection) would be to reach on Allen in Late Round 2, get Williams in early Round 3, and then round it out with Herbert in Round 4. … There are a ton of bring back options here, but the best way would be having Cam Akers (late Round 4) or Allen Robinson (Round ⅘ turn) be available in early Round 5 after getting the stud Chargers in Round 3 and Round 4. Van Jefferson (Round 12), Darrell Henderson (Round 13) and Tyler Higbee (Round 14) are solid ones, too.

Favorite Game Stack: Cooper Kupp (Round 1) + Matthew Stafford (Round 8) + Tyler Higbee (Round 14) with Mike Williams (Round 3) + Gerald Everett (Round 15).

Matchup: The Chargers defense will be better after offseason additions, but this total will be in the 50s. It's go time, especially as one of four games in a dome. Both offenses play with pace, too.

2. Bills at Bengals (likely pretty damn cold)

The Bills stack really comes down to whether or not you want to pay a mid-Round 1 price tag on Stefon Diggs. He was nowhere near that value last year, but it’s a new season and he has that potential. Josh Allen does enough as a rusher and there are enough other Bills’ pass-catchers later on to still draft Allen in Round 3 without Diggs in Round 1. Gabriel Davis (Round 5) would essentially be required in this build, and Dawson Knox (Round 9) seems like the best pairing no matter what given his cost and the nature of the tight end position. The 2022 offense won’t feature their slot WR as much this year with Knox emerging and pass-catching specialist RB James Cook in the mix, but Jamison Crowder (Round 12), Isaiah McKenzie (Round 18), and Day 3 rookie Khalil Shakir (Round 18) are cheap. This is a three teammate stack offense, with the option to extend to four teammates especially in the non-Diggs builds. Round 10 James Cook could catch passes out of the backfield, but I think we overvalue QB/RB ceiling correlation in general. … It’s now impossible to pair Diggs and Ja’Marr Chase together, and Tee Higgins is in an odd spot in terms of stacking with the Bills, too, as he’s going on the Round ⅔ turn. Chase and Higgins can easily be stacked with Round 3 Allen, though it could require a slight reach on Higgins in Round 2. That’s totally fine with me. It’s much more common and easier to pair Diggs with Round 2 Joe Mixon. The easiest bring back option for Diggs or Allen stacks is to scoop up Tyler Boyd in Round 10 or Chris Evans in Round 18.

The Bengals stack is extremely easy to pull off. Ja’Marr Chase (Round 1), Tee Higgins (Round ⅔ turn), Joe Burrow (Round 6), and Tyler Boyd (Round 10) are perfectly pocketed together, so my primary question is: Is it okay to draft Chase and Higgins together? There’s no doubt that their personal ceilings are unlocked when the other misses time, and the price tags here are high enough to worry about the odds of them both having ceiling games in Week 17. I believe they are paired more often than I’d be comfortable with, so my favorite stack is either Chase or Higgins with Burrow and Boyd. If one of the two studs misses time, then Boyd projects much better, too. Lastly, Hayden Hurst (Round 16) and pass-catching backup RB Chris Evans (Round 18) are cheap additions late, primarily when we only have one of the big three WRs. … Stefon Diggs is impossible to stack with Chase and pretty awkward to stack with Higgins, so the primary bring backs are Gabriel Davis (Round 5), my guy Dawson Knox (Round 9), one of the two RBs at the Round 9/10 turn, or one of the dart-throw slot WRs. Because the Bengals don’t have a highly-projected tight end, my favorite bring back by a wide margin is Knox.

Favorite Game Stack: Josh Allen (Round 3) + Gabriel Davis (Round 5) + Dawson Knox (Round 9) with Tee Higgins (Round 2) and/or Tyler Boyd (Round 10) and/or Chris Evans (Round 18).

Bonus Game Stack: Tee Higgins (Round 3) + Joe Burrow (Round 6) + Tyler Boyd (Round 10) with Dawson Knox (Round 9) and one of the slot WRs late. 

Matchup: The Bills defense is pretty, pretty good. The Bengals defense is fine. The weather won't be the best most likely, but let's be honest, having this game as the hammer on Monday Night Football is too fun to sweat about the damn defenses in June.

3. Broncos at Chiefs (likely pretty damn cold)

Russell Wilson was traded for, and the entire Broncos’ receiving corps vaulted up the boards. Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy – despite doing nothing last year – are mid-Round 4 selections while Wilson goes in the middle of Round 7. A contrarian third-round reach is the only way to stack all three of them, but that is pushing it in my opinion as I’m already uncomfortable with them in Round 4 compared to my personal projections. The best way to stack the Broncos is by grabbing either one of Sutton or Jeudy, then Wilson, and then one (or maybe two of) Tim Patrick in Round 11, Albert Okweugbunam at the Round 12/13 turn, or KJ Hamler in Round 15 if he’s on pace with his serious knee injury. When in doubt, the tertiary part of the stack should be the tight end. As for the RBs, I wouldn’t stack Javonte Williams here, but I’d be open to including Melvin Gordon as he’s a better fit on passing downs and comes at a much cheaper price. … The best part of Broncos stacks are the plethora of bring back options. It can be any of the five pass-catchers going inside the top-125 overall, or it can be Clyde Edwards-Helaire in Round 7 if it’s possible to get both CEH and Russ as their ADPs are currently identical. CEH is a clear favorite for passing-down work, so he’d be playing heavily if Russ balls out.

It’ll be different with a few new weapons replacing Tyreek Hill, but like always, it’s viable to stack Travis Kelce (Round ½ turn) with Patrick Mahomes (Round ¾ turn) early on to get the onesie positions taken care of. Afterwards, it’s time to figure out this receiver corps with JuJu Smith-Schuster (late Round 5), Skyy More (Round ⅞ turn), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (Round 9), and Mecole Hardman (Round 11) all possessing week-winning ceilings. “Better In Best Ball” King MVS is by far my favorite value and could trend up to the Round ⅞ turn by August if his offseason continues going off without a hitch. With how cheap this offense is compared to their previous seasons’ production, this is certainly an offense to stack Mahomes with two (maybe three) pass-catchers, and it’s still fine to draft two of these WRs together even on non-Mahomes teams due to their super-cheap prices. … Stacking the early-drafted Broncos as bring backs with Mahomes is more difficult. Javonte Williams (early Round 3) gets drafted on the other side of the board, and Courtland Sutton (early Round 4) or Jerry Jeudy (mid Round 4) would require a Round ¾ turn price tag that’s pretty damn rich considering their fantasy histories. For these reasons, the best bring backs to me are Melvin Gordon (Round 10), Tim Patrick (Round 11), Albert Okweugbunam (Round 12/13 turn), or if you’re desperate KJ Hamler (Round 15). 

Favorite Game Stack: Patrick Mahomes (Round 4) + JuJu Smith-Schuster (Round 5) + Marquez Valdes-Scantling (Round 9) with Melvin Gordon (Round 10) and/or Tim Patrick (Round 11) and/or Albert Okwuegbunam (Round 13).

Matchup: Denver's defense projects to be pretty good. The Chiefs looks pretty bad, though they play better than expected under their DC. Aside from the occasion snow storm in Kansas City in the winter, this projects as a shootout with these offenses.

Tier drop

4. 49ers at Raiders (dome)

The 49ers are a very complicated offense to stack because it will depend on how run-heavy the Trey Lance version of the offense will be. Kyle Shanahan’s offense with OROY Robert Griffin was 30th in pass attempts, and the pass-catchers here aren’t cheap: Deebo Samuel (Round 2), George Kittle (Round ⅘ turn), and Brandon Aiyuk (Round 7). I don’t love those price tags, but Lance in Round 8 is a total bargain for what his upside could be. Lance is probably best single-stacked for these reasons, or double-stacked if we can identify the No. 3 WR (Ray-Ray McCloud, Jauan Jennings, or Day 3 rookie Danny Gray) following training camp reports. Others will certainly be more aggressive with massive 49ers stacks, however, and they could be right if Lance hits his deep-ball upside. … It’s pretty easy to stack Davante Adams with Deebo Samuel early on and Darren Waller (Round 4) and Hunter Renfrow (Round ⅞ turn) can be paired with any Niner. The exception, to me, is both Waller and Kittle. I see this stacked often, and that’s typically been too much draft capital for the lower-scoring onesie position. We don’t know, yet, which Round 18 dart throw is best between Kenyan Drake, Zamir White, and whoever wins the Raiders’ No. 3 WR job (maybe Mack Hollins). 

There’s not a whole lot to discuss with the Raiders stack in terms of strategy. Davante Adams (Round ½ turn), Darren Waller (Round 4), Hunter Renfrow (Round ⅞), and Derek Carr (Round 10/11 turn) are readily available to stack, aside from Carr most commonly being drafted on the opposite side of the board compared to Adams and Renfrow. Unless Carr is much better than even I – a Carr truther – believes, this is a team to max out with three teammates. Until we get training camp reports, it’s hard to draft the Raiders’ up-for-grabs No. 3 receiver in what could be a heavier 2-WR offense in general. … The bring backs line up well here, aside from Waller with Kittle in the first five rounds. With the Niners potentially being run-heavy, Eli Mitchell (Round 6/7 turn) or your favorite Niners backup RB makes some sense.

Favorite game stack: George Kittle (Round 4) + Trey Lance (Round 8) with Davante Adams (Round ½ turn) or Hunter Renfrow (Round 7).

Matchup: A domed environment without much travel is a great setup. The Raiders defense always sucks. The 49ers should be pretty good, but not overwhelming. This sets up nicely if these offenses are as good as we think.

5. Cardinals at Falcons (dome)

The Cardinals might be my favorite team to stack in Best Ball Mania III. Kyler Murray (Round ⅚ turn) and Zach Ertz (Round 10/11 turn) offer upside at the onesie positions, and there are four draftable WRs all at different price points. Marquise Brown (Round ¾ turn) is getting very pricey as a slightly more explosive version of Christian Kirk, but he’ll start out white hot until DeAndre Hopkins (Round 7) returns. Hopkins is a great pick after getting Murray the round prior, as Week 17 is what matters most and Hopkins’ suspension won’t affect that projection. Rondale Moore (Round 10) is mostly an avoid, especially with Ertz in the same range, but A.J. Green (Round 16) or even Trey McBride (Round 18) are options. With how fast they plays, this is an offense that can handle three teammates in ceiling outcomes and their relative prices aren’t that expensive. My favorite stack is Murray + Hopkins + Ertz in the middle rounds. … In addition to the Falcons being a lousy defense in a dome, this stack is aided by a few interesting bring back options in Kyle Pitts (Round 3), Drake London (Round 6), Cordarrelle Patterson (Round 8), or Bryan Edwards (Round 18). Both Pitts and London should be hitting their stride late in the year as young players, so Murray + London + Hopkins + Ertz fits very well in Rounds 5-10. 

The Falcons are one of the worst teams to stack in the NFL. They likely will be bad and run heavy, and we can’t project who will start at QB in Week 17 with much confidence. This is probably a team best kept single-stacking, if you even want to, and probably with Marcus Mariota instead of late Day 2 Desmond Ridder. … The bring back options are plentiful, but less so with Kyle Pitts. Both Pitts and James Conner go in the middle of Round 3, and it’s probably overdoing it by allocating capital to tight end in Round 3 and Round 10 to pair Pitts with Ertz. Pitts fits best with Marquise Brown or DeAndre Hopkins. London can be paired with whomst ever on Arizona.

Favorite game stack: Kyler Murray (Round 5) + DeAndre Hopkins (Round 7) + Zach Ertz (Round 10) with Drake London (Round 6) and/or Bryan Edwards (Round 18).

Matchup: The Cardinals defense might be the one that projects to decrease most going into this year, and the Falcons absolutely stink outside of CB1. In a dome with a fast-paced Arizona offense, this is a smooth setup.

6. Panthers at Buccaneers (maybe decent weather)

It’s actually pathetic how few options there are to stack with the Panthers. The only QBs, WRs, or TEs going inside the top-250 right now are D.J. Moore (Round ¾ turn) and Robby Anderson (Round 14/15 turn). Sam Darnold is the slight favorite for Week 17 QB snaps in Carolina, but Matt Corral, Baker Mayfield, and Jimmy Garoppolo have to be on the radar here, making this a brutal team to stack this early. The best argument for a stack is Anderson’s absurdly cheap price tag, and that’s not a great argument. … Read the next paragraph for Bucs’ bring back options. 

The Bucs are once again very stackable. Mike Evans (Round 2) and Chris Godwin (Round 5) go ahead of Tom Brady (Round 7) with Russell Gage (Round 8) and Rob Gronkowski (Round 10/11 turn) going shortly after. This is an offense that’s recommended to include three teammates, especially when one of the tight ends is included. Yes, that could include Round 18 Cameron Brate. Backup RB Rachaad White (Round 11/12 turn) could be the rare exception of having a positive ceiling correlation with his QB as a potential pass-catching specialist. If Fournette is out, this offense could lean on the pass even more. This is also the exception for including four teammates stacked together, especially if one or two are cheap and non-WRs. … To make this stack even better, all of the Panthers pass-catchers fit perfectly in. Christian McCaffrey with Mike Evans (more so than Leonard Fournette) in Round 2, plus D.J. Moore (Round ¾ turn) and Robby Anderson (Round ¾ turn). 

Favorite game stack: Mike Evans (Round 2) + Tom Brady (Round 7) + Russell Gage (Round 8) + Cameron Brate (Round 18) with Christian McCaffrey (Round 1) and/or Robby Anderson (Round 14/15 turn).

Matchup: Both defenses are respectable but not total shutout units. Any defense worry should be cancelled out by the relatively good odds of decent weather compared to most outdoor games.

7. Steelers at Ravens (likely pretty damn cold)

The Steelers aren’t super exciting or interesting to stack, aside from the fact that their first round QB is going undrafted in most Best Ball Mania III drafts at his 212.8 ADP. Kenny Pickett can run a little more than given credit, so I’m open to him as a QB3 in some later-round QB builds after selecting either Diontae Johnson (Round 4), Chase Claypool (Round 9), Pat Freiermuth (Round 11), and/or George Pickens (Round 14). A combination of one of the receivers, Freiermuth, and Pickett is a super cheap – and unique – way to get Week 17 correlation when this young corps is playing at its best. … The other good part about this stack is how top-heavy and clear-cut the Ravens’ bring back options are, and they all fit well throughout the draft with the Steelers players. Mark Andrews (Round 2), Lamar Jackson (Round 5), Rashod Bateman (Round 5), and J.K. Dobbins (Round 5) are the headliners. 

Stacking the Ravens is something we clearly want to do given their upside, but actually doing it properly takes some finesse. Mark Andrews in Round 2 is straightforward, but both Lamar Jackson (52.2 overall) and Rashod Bateman (56.0 overall) are Round 5 selections. To get the Lamar double stack, it’ll take Bateman falling all the way to Round 6 (unlikely but ideal) or slightly reaching on Lamar in Round 4 (very doable but less good). For this reason, Lamar and Andrews will be paired together far more often than Lamar and Bateman. Evening that out is smart. At the end of drafts, Devin Duvernay (Round 17/18 turn) is the best bet after starting in 3-WR sets last year, but there are Tylan Wallace and mini slot James Proche truthers in the deep interwebs of the internet. … Pittsburgh has plenty of skill-position talent scattered across the draft board to facilitate whatever bring back you’d like, but by the time Week 17 rolls around, Pickens will be in the Post-Bye Rookie Bump phase and he’s pretty cheap right now.

Favorite game stack: Lamar Jackson (Round 4) + Rashod Bateman (Round 5) with Chase Claypool (Round 9) and/or Pat Freiermuth (Round 11) and/or George Pickens (Round 14). 

Matchup: These defenses aren't as good as they once were, but this is always a bat fight, especially if we get the slower-paced Ravens in control. This is a below-average fantasy setup, though there are stars littered throughout.

8. Vikings at Packers (stone cold shrinkage weather)

I know we’re not supposed to talk about projecting defenses in these best ball streets, but I project the Packers to be one of the best units in the NFL and the weather won’t help the Vikings here. With that said, man, there’s a lot of talent on the Vikings and they’re spaced out across the draft board: Justin Jefferson (Round 1), Adam Thielen (Round 6/7 turn), Kirk Cousins (Round 11), Irv Smith (Round 12/13 turn), and K.J. Osborn (Round 13). There’s not a great reason to draft Cousins without either Jefferson or Thielen, and because Thielen’s price has dropped, I think it’s rock solid to go with the ye’ old double stack. Adding Smith or particularly Osborn late is best when we only have one of Jefferson or Thielen, as their ceilings are unlocked when the other misses time. … Jefferson in Round 1 and Aaron Jones in Round 2 will be a very common pairing because their ADPs align perfectly, so avoiding that in favor of A.J. Dillon or some of the pass-catchers seems more unique and arguably straight-up better. Allen Lazard (Round 8) likely opens the year as the No. 1 receiver ahead of Christian Watson (Round 10), Sammy Watkins (Round 16), Romeo Doubs (Round 17), and Randall Cobb (Round 18), but watch out for a veteran like Julio Jones (Round 17) to enter the mix here. Whoever that veteran is would be smart to pair, as some of BBM3 teams have already been drafted without this pairing. 

The best things to say about stacking the Packers are they are cheap, and there are a lot of options. Aaron Jones (Round 2) could be an exception to QB/RB ceiling correlation because of how involved he is as a pass-catcher in the red zone, but after him, there’s a massive drop to Allen Lazard (Round 8), Christian Watson (Round 10), and Robert Tonyan (Round 12) as Aaron Rodgers’ (Round 9) primary pairings. Even with the Post-Bye Rookie Bump factored in, I personally like Lazard’s odds of being the No. 1 option in Week 17 when scoring matters most. Tonyan is aggressively priced for a player coming off a torn ACL, but he’s shown TD upside and can easily be paired two rounds after Rodgers. My sneaky stacking option right now is Julio Jones with Rodgers after seeing Julio linked here repeatedly by some Packers writers and analysts. If that made you unfollow me, then there’s always the ghost of Sammy Watkins (Round 16), Day 3 rookie Romeo Doubs (Round 18), and old reliable Randall Cobb (Round 18). One of these dust balls will pay off. … Many will stack the Packers with Justin Jefferson, but Dalvin Cook remains a stackable option given his playmaking ability and the projected poor weather here. 

Favorite game stack: Justin Jefferson (Round 1) + Kirk Cousins (Round 11) + K.J. Osborn (Round 13) with Allen Lazard (Round 8) ... and maybe Julio Jones (Round 17).

Matchup: Of all the games, a New Year’s Day 4:25pm kickoff in Green Bay has me most worried in terms of weather. It’ll be shrinkage szn. The Packers also might have a top-three defense this year with plenty of depth everywhere.

9. Saints at Eagles (likely pretty damn cold)

There are clearly a lot of question marks with Saints stacks, but there’s no question that it’s at least an affordable secondary or tertiary stack with Michael Thomas (Round 6), Chris Olave (Round 9), and Jarvis Landry (Round 11) all going ahead of Jameis Winston (Round 14) who expects to be ready for Week 1. Landry doesn’t fit the player archetype I look for, so this stack is mostly about evaluating MT’s return from severe ankle surgeries versus the potential emergence of Olave, who profiles as a high-end No. 2 receiver with spiked-week potential. The true sickos can also point to TE-eligible Taysom Hill as someone who could play some QB if all hell breaks loose. I’d put the odds of that happening at under 2%, but it’s within the range of outcomes. … Because these Saints are so cheap and there isn’t a legit tight end on the Saints, it’s easy to find bring backs on the Eagles with five players, including Dallas Goedert, going inside the top-100 overall picks. There’s a chance both teams play slow and run the ball a lot, especially if there’s poor weather in Philly here, so tread lightly on how players are added from this contest.

The Eagles are a sexy team to stack with a clear top-three at pass-catcher and a dual-threat QB. The question becomes how much will they pass? Last year’s neutral pass rates won’t be able to facilitate these price tags, but they should try passing more with better talent in 2022. Still, this is an offense that probably maxes out at three teammates, not four, and could be a team to prioritize single stacks with Hurts. I’ve seen others pair pass-catching RB Kenny Gainwell with Hurts, but I don’t envision too many RB passes from a dual-threat QB with these WRs. … The primary issue with the bring backs are that they’re similarly priced to the Eagles themselves. Brown with Alvin Kamara in Round ⅔. Hurts, Smith, and Thomas in Round 6. Goedert and Olave in Round 9. But with a little luck or a slight reach, they are stackable. Kamara is certainly stackable as a pass-catching bring back, too.

Favorite game stack: A.J. Brown (Round ⅔ turn) + Jalen Hurts (Round 6) + Dallas Goedert (Round 9) with Michael Thomas (Round 7).

Matchup: Both offenses could look much different than they did last year, but there are pace and run-heavy concerns here. On top of that, we have January Philly weather and two above-average defenses. This is a below-average setup.

Tier drop

10. Cowboys at Titans (likely pretty damn cold)

The Cowboys have more uncertainty as a whole this year, so there could be some major winners and losers here. CeeDee Lamb after two relatively below-expectation seasons is all the way up to the Round ½ turn with Amari Cooper in Cleveland and Michael Gallup (Round 10) questionable for the first month of the season. Dalton Schultz goes on the other side of the board (Round 6/7 turn) from Lamb, so a slight reach or lucky drop in ADP will be the only way to stack Lamb, Schultz, and Dak Prescott, who is paired nicely with Lamb on the Round ⅞ turn. Stacking all three is completely viable with Schultz occupying a onesie position. Gallup’s injury shouldn’t affect his Week 17 projection, and a battle for No. 3 WR between Jalen Tolbert (Round 13) and sub-$2M James Washington (Round 18) allows for backdoor stacking here. … The bring back options are just okay. Derrick Henry can be paired with Lamb if either takes a slight fall at the Round ½ turn. Treylon Burks (Round 7) isn’t my favorite pick in general, and he’s a tight squeeze in the same round as both Schultz and Prescott. Robert Woods (Round 9) isn’t a sexy pick, but correlation is correlation. My favorite bring back might be Austin Hooper (Round 17) because of his price and easy path to targets while trailing.

The Titans are a team I’m mostly avoiding. Ryan Tannehill (Round 16) is cheap, but I’m mostly on 2-QB builds and his pass-catching options look iffy on a notoriously run-heavy offense. Treylon Burks (Round 7) and Robert Woods (Round 9), if healthy, will soak up most receiver targets with absolutely zero talent behind them. For that reason, Austin Hooper (Round 17) is a relative value following his 1-year, $6.3M contract, and he fills into 3-TE builds seamlessly. Because of their talent and offensive structure this is a maximum of three teammate offense when it comes to stacks. … If there’s a truly good thing about stacking the Titans, it’s the plentiful bring back options we get on Dallas with not just the pass-catchers but with Ezekiel Elliott (Round 4) or Tony Pollard (Round 8), too. 

Favorite game stack: Dalton Schultz (Round 7) + Dak Prescott (Round 8) + Michael Gallup (Round 10) with Austin Hooper (Round 17).

Matchup: The Titans are slow-paced and have a reasonable defense, especially up front. And this is the Thursday Night Football game with potentially bad weather. Not my favorite setup, even if the Cowboys are defensive regression candidates due to turnover luck and talent turnover.

11. Dolphins at Patriots (likely pretty damn cold)

Stacking the Dolphins requires some faith in Tua Tagovailoa (Round 12) and the new coaching staff, but the weapons are impossible to hate. Tyreek Hill (Round 2) and Jaylen Waddle (Round 3) are stackable together with a slight reach on either one. Is that recommended? It’s not my absolute favorite, but it’s certainly viable because they are studs and there’s a serious drop off in talent in this receiver room after them. That’s especially so with the Patriots defense looking weaker than usual heading into 2022. Ultimately, I like Hill or Waddle slightly more, with onesie TE Mike Gesicki sitting at the Round 11/12 turn with Tua. My favorite stack is exactly that one. Chase Edmonds doesn’t have the typical archetype I’m after, but he is enough of a checkdown artist to have some minor ceiling correlation with Tua given his relatively cheap price (Round 10). … The Dolphins’ bring back options are as unsexy as me when I tell chicks that I’m a fantasy football analyst. The good news is that they’re cheap, with Damien Harris (Round 9) being the first Patriot off the board. DeVante Parker and Jakobi Meyers are slightly awkward fits because their ADPs are next to Gesicki and Tua’s, but a little value luck or a little game-planned reach can solve that issue. Hunter Henry in Round 13 is my favorite Dolphins bring back, as he is a two-touchdown threat and fills a onesie spot. 

The Patriots aren’t going to be our primary team stack, but they are one of the best “oh shit I need more correlation” teams. Under-appreciated mini-Phil Rivers Mac Jones doesn’t come off the board until Round 16 or later, and his pass-catchers are all double-digit round picks. DeVante Parker (Round 12) is my favorite among the WRs given his profile and the capital they sent for him this offseason. Jakobi Meyers (Round 12), Kendrick Bourne (Round 17), Tyquan Thornton (Round 18), and Nelson Agholor (Round 18) will likely rotate in 3-WR snaps. Maybe Thornton is the headliner of the Post-Bye Rookie Bump by the time we kick off Week 17. But the real apple of my eye remains TE19 Hunter Henry (Round 13), who beat that ranking in literally every metric you can think of last year. It’s possible that the Patriots pass more in 2022 with FB Jakob Johnson cut and Jones going into his second NFL season. My favorite way to stack the Pats is Parker + Henry + Mac and Thornton if you’re feeling frisky. … The two primary bring backs on Miami are top-40 overall picks, so the way to backdoor the bring backs is by looking at Mike Gesicki in Round 11/12. I think most will stack Tua after going with the stud WRs early, but I think making them the bring back and stacking the Patriots is the unique way to play this game:

Favorite game stack: DeVante Parker (Round 12) + Hunter Henry (Round 13) + Mac Jones (Round 16) with Tyreek Hill (Round 3).

Matchup: The Dolphins are pretty good on defense. The Patriots have been great almost every single year, but there is certainly less talent this year with the unit getting older. Weather very well could be a big concern.

12. Colts at Giants (likely pretty damn cold)

The Colts are extremely top-heavy and not all that fun to stack, with Round 14 Matt Ryan’s ceiling pretty low in general. Michael Pittman (Round 3) isn’t a sleeper anymore. He’s priced at where his talent is. Behind him is next to nothing, with Day 2 rookie Alec Pierce (Round 14) and oft-injured slot Parris Campbell (Round 17) rounding out the 3-WR set. It takes some minor game-planning to stack Pierce with Ryan at very similar ADPs, but if you can’t figure that out, you won’t be successful at best ball anyways. My sneaky way to stack the Colts is by adding contingent-based stud Nyheim Hines in Round 12. If Jonathan Taylor misses time, Hines is a smash this late in the draft, and the Colts passing offense would project better in general. My favorite stack is Pittman + Hines + Pierce + Ryan, or a combination of two or three of them. … It’ll be relatively rare for Pittman (31.0 overall) to be paired with Saquon Barkley (25.7 overall), so if you’ve reached on Barkely in Round 2, consider going Pittman next. Don’t sweat it if you don’t do that, however. The Giants have elite upside wild card Kadarius Toney (Round 9), Kenny Golladay (Round 11), highly-debated Day 2 rookie Wan’Dale Robinson (Round 16), and Achilles rehabber Sterling Shepard (Round 18) sprinkled later on. 

The Giants have some upside at cost with a massive coaching and OL upgrade coming in Daniel Jones’ (Round 15) make-it or break-it season. Kadarius Toney is the key to the outlier Giants season in my opinion, and he’s worth the risk in Round 9. But if you’re fading Toney for his off-field shaningus, then Kenny Golladay (Round 10/11 turn) is right there. Stacking the Giants more or less requires one of these two receivers, as Day 2 rookie Wan’Dale Robinson (Round 16) profiles as a slot-only player in the NFL and Sterling Shepard (Round 18) will be late to the party following a late-season Achilles tear. As you can see, there are still holes in this receiver and tight end group, so Saquon Barkley (Round ⅔ turn) is viable as a stacking partner with Jones. He’ll catch a ton of passes. … Jonathan Taylor and Barkley are easily stacked on the left side of draft boards, and Barkley catches enough passes to be slightly positively correlated in Week 17 if Taylor goes nuts and forces New York to pass. Without question, Pittman would be more correlated as a bring back option, however, and he’ll be less-commonly paired as both go in Round 3. A simple and slight Barkley Round 2 reach sets up a Barkley/Pittman mini stack. Alec Pierce (Round 14) has long TD upside as the late-round bring back candidate for the Giants.

Favorite game stack: Saquon Barkley (Round 2) + Kadarius Toney (Round 9) + Daniel Jones (Round 15) with Michael Pittman (Round 3) and/or Nyheim Hines (Round 12) and/or Alec Pierce (Round 14). 

Matchup: The Colts are a decent defensive unit but could look way different with Gus Bradley as DC now. The Giants secondary is a stone-cold disaster and could be one of the worst units in the NFL. Weather is a bigger concern than defense.

13. Jaguars at Texans (dome)

The Jaguars will very clearly be way better in 2022 with competent coaching, OL play, and pass-catching talent in the building. Trevor Lawrence (Round 13) is cheap with a “generational prospect” ceiling, so it’s hard not to like Christian Kirk (Round 8) as his vertical slot weapon in a domed Week 17 matchup with the damn Texans. The rest of the WR room will be a competition, but Zay Jones’ $14M contract (Round 18) and outside veteran Marvin Jones (Round 15) are my projected starters in 3-WR sets over Laviska Shenault (Round 18) and Swagnew. A better bet than these iffy talents is Evan Engram (Round 16), who is probably straight-up better than these receivers and doesn’t have to do as much to be fantasy viable at tight end. Travis Etienne goes just late enough (Round ⅘ turn), catches just enough passes, and has just little enough target competition to positively correlate with Lawrence at ceiling outcomes in Week 17. … There’s nothing sexy about the bring back options, but Brandin Cooks (Round 5), John Metchie (Round 16), and Nico Collins (Round 17) will likely be starting in 3-WR sets when Week 17 is here. Collins is healthier, cheaper, and profiles as a big play threat more so than Metchie. Who the RB is a total guess, with Dameon Pierce (Round 12) and Marlon Mack (Round 17) being the best options. 

Even Davis Mills (Round 18) can have a random spike week, so I’m contractually obligated to write about Texans stacks when I could be touching grass. Brandin Cooks (Round 5) is a value compared to last year’s stats, and Nico Collins (Round 17) has a “better in best ball” profile. John Metchie (Round 16) profiles as a slot-only player while he returns from a torn ACL, but he should be healthy for Week 17 when stats matter most. Brevin Jordan (Round 18) goes undrafted often, so you can at least tell people that Mills and Jordan are unique. … Travis Etienne (Round ⅘ turn) is the only somewhat expensive bring back option, and he does correlate positively with Cooks. Otherwise, it’s just late-round WR and TE dart throws here, which is fine. There’s just not a lot to write about.

Favorite game stack: Christian Kirk (Round 9) + Trevor Lawrence (Round 13) + Evan Engram (Round 16) with Brandin Cooks (Round 5) and/or Nico Collins (Round 17).

Matchup: These defenses won't be good, and this game is in a dome. It's go time if these offenses are any good.

14. Bears at Lions (dome)

We get it, the Bears likely suck. But what if Justin Fields (Round 12) runs for a million yards and takes a slight step forward? Or what if the rest of the Bears’ pass-catchers are so painful that Darnell Mooney (Round 6) sees 150 targets this year? More importantly, they get a domed game against the damn Lions in Week 17. Mooney will be surrounded by Byron Pringle (Round 18), who goes undrafted frequently despite getting $4M this year to be a locked-in starter. Velus Jones (Round 18) has never been a target-getting receiver, but he’s free and will be in the Post-Bye Rookie Bump zone on New Year’s Day. I’m not a fan of Cole Kmet’s (Round 13) game to date, but they use him in the slot more than you might expect and Jimmy Graham’s red zone jump balls are a thing of the past. Because of their cheap prices and Kmet’s tight end eligibility, this offense can be double stacked with Fields very easily. … Just after Mooney goes off the board is when Amon-Ra St. Brown (Round 6/7 turn) goes, and T.J. Hockenson also is a bring back option in Round 8. Neither are my favorite values in general, and Jameson Williams (Round 10) could tank a bit with news coming out that he probably won’t be ready to start the season. Williams will be pretty, pretty interesting if he falls to Round 11 or Round 12, however. D.J. Chark (Round 13) long touchdown upside, but he goes in the rounds that Fields and Kmet go. Perhaps the best late-round bring back is backup RB Jamaal Williams (Round 16). 

The Lions are America’s Team for the 2022 offseason thanks to Dan Campbell. Their offensive line looks good and their skill group looks much, much better this time around. Jared Goff (Round 17) goes undrafted often because of ceiling concerns, but I do think he’s worthy of a QB3 spot in some non-elite QB builds that also have Amon-Ra St. Brown (Round 6), T.J. Hockenson (Round 6/7 turn), Jameson Williams (Round 10), or D.J. Chark (Round 13). Williams’ ADP could drop now that he’s a confirmed PUP candidate – six missed games – but he should be pretty healthy in Week 17. It’s reasonable to assume this is an at-most three teammates stack. … This is an easy game stack based on how cheap and spread out all the players are on the draft board. The only exception could be Darnell Mooney (61st overall) and Amon-Ra St. Brown (69th overall) because they are going in the same round, making them a more unique pairing. Because Mooney has the most big play ability, he’s my favorite bring back candidate here, though Byron Pringle is an 18th round player who has a contract that makes him a favorite for 2-WR set starts.

Favorite game stack: Darnell Mooney (Round 6) + Justin Fields (Round 12) + Cole Kmet (Round 13) + Byron Pringle (Round 18) with D’Andre Swift (Round 2).

Matchup: The Bears defense should be fine but is no longer the formidable unit it was in recent history. The Lions defense will be pretty bad still, though better than it was. It's unclear how fast these offenses will play, but this being a domed game is an advantage.

Tier drop

15. Jets at Seahawks (likely pretty damn cold)

The Jets are a highly-debated team because the skill positions have plenty of young talent, but the offensive structure can be hit-and-miss for fantasy football and Zach Wilson (Round 14/15 turn) was one of the very worst quarterbacks to make an NFL start last year. For that reason, he is cheap and a backdoor stacking candidate if you have much faith in his talent (I'm nervous). Elijah Moore, who is a stud, goes in Round 6 but will have to hold off Garrett Wilson (Round 9) and Corey Davis (Round 13/14 turn) to start in 2-WR sets. We'll learn more in training camp about where the value is here, but they go in their own pockets of the draft, so it's an easy-to-stack offense. ... The obvious bring back on Jets stacks is DK Metcalf (Round 4) who goes just before Breece Hall (Round 5) if you're looking for mini correlation. Tyler Lockett (Round 9), Kenneth Walker (Round 9), and Rashaad Penny (Round 10) are the other high-upside Seahawks and don't interfere with Jets' stacks on the draft board. Round 15 Noah Fant, an absolute dog when given volume, is the last-minute bring back and fits the TE-less Jets' stack.

The Seahawks don't have a QB being drafted often on Underdog Fantasy. It could be any of Geno Smith, Drew Lock, Baker Mayfield, or Jimmy Garroppolo, so there's not a rush to draft DK Metcalf (Round 4) or Tyler Lockett (Round 9), which I theorize makes them both values in general. The same can be said for Noah Fant (Round 15), too. There is some "QB upgrade" correlation when drafting Metcalf and Lockett/Fant right now, as they would climb in ADP if Mayfield is brought in. ... Breece Hall goes a few picks after Metcalf and certainly qualifies as a bring back option on these mini stacks. Afterwards, it's the Jets' big three receivers and Michael Carter (Round 12). It's a pretty-straight forward scenario.

Favorite game stack: DK Metcalf (Round 4) + Noah Fant (Round 15) with Michael Carter (Round 12) and/or Corey Davis (Round 13).

Matchup: The Jets defense should be NFL-worthy now, and it's Seattle's relative strength. It doesn't snow or get super windy in Seattle typically, but rain is certainly possible. The offenses are the hurdle here.

16. Browns at Commanders (likely pretty damn cold)

Assuming Deshaun "Happy Baby" Watson aka "Nasty Man" is suspended for most or all of the season, this offense looks pretty weak, especially when playing slow against a reasonable defense on the road in potentially bad weather. Amari Cooper (Round 5) is the lone bankable receiver with Day 2 rookie David Bell (Round 13) competing with deep threat X receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones (Round 15/16 turn) for two-receiver set starts. DPJ is "better in best ball" and is the favorite for that spot given his size and skillset compared to Bell's projected big slot role. Because of the below-average WR corps, highly-paid David Njoku (Round 13) looks appealing as a big-play threat over the middle. He'll be an every-down player for the first time with this coaching staff. ... I don't want to stack the damn Commanders. Poverty franchise with an oft-throwaway quarterback. Terry McLaurin (Round 4) might be good enough to overcome some of this, but this is the most target competition he's faced ever. Antonio Gibson's price has dropped to Round 6, so he's getting more appetizing but not on Nick Chubb teams. Both are early-down guys.

You get 18 draft picks each draft. Do you want to spend them on Washington??? Enough already.

Favorite game stack: Trick question. I don’t have one.

Matchup: Both defenses have talent at all three levels, and Washington in January isn't good, per sources.