The Best Fantasy Football Stacks To Win Your League In 2020
By now, it is largely accepted that “stacking” is the proper way to build fantasy football teams. By selecting a quarterback (or a wide receiver, running back, or tight end) you are making the value statement that you expect that player to perform well. Therefore, in the case of both pass-catchers and quarterbacks, you are also making a statement that you expect the correlated teammates do well.
Especially in tournament formats that are more than just your 12-team home leagues (though you should still go into your draft with the focus of stacking your top quarterback with one of his top two targets for sure), it is almost a requirement to have a stack in order to generate a +EV roster. The values of stacking should make us have a clear plan heading into our drafts of attempting to correlate several of our roster spots.
In this space, we will investigate five of the best QB/WR/TE stacks in terms of total value and expected points relative to their average draft position. ADP’s for our purposes will be from the Football Guys Championship on FFPC, using data from fantasymojo.com.
Dak Prescott (67th Overall, QB3) + Michael Gallup (74th Overall, WR31)
It has become so standard in fantasy football to wait on your quarterback and to avoid the usually-overdrafted middle tier of players that the ADP of Dak Prescott, Kyler Murray, and DeShaun Watson this year might be shocking to the system for many veteran fantasy players. As JJ Zachriason from NumberFire noted last month, with so many QBs now offering passing upside WITH their great rushing numbers, we are in the era of the mid-round QB.
Perhaps no player illustrates this better than Dak Prescott, who topped his previous career-high of 3,885 yards last year by throwing for a whopping 4,902 yards with 30 passing touchdowns. Dallas also lead the NFL in total team yards per play on offense (more than the Chiefs, Ravens, etc). Dak was able to do so while dedicating 166 passes to Jason Witten and Randall Cobb. Those targets will instead this year be going to all-world prospect CeeDee Lamb and the uber-efficient Black Jarwin.
Gallup is the perfect stack closer due to his cost relative to Amari Cooper. Certainly, if you take Amari Cooper in the third round, Dak is a perfectly fine selection in the sixth but Gallup makes even more sense as he is less cost-prohibitive. Gallup and Cooper were separated by only six total targets last season (and Gallup actually missed two games). Cooper had a yards per target of 10.0; Gallup had a yards per target of 9.8. By and large, there is not much separating Gallup and Cooper from a projections perspective though there is a wide gap in pedigree between the two which explains the gap in perception (and ADP). Using the RotoViz Stat Explorer, we can actually see just how consistent Gallup was for fantasy football.
Selecting Dak in the sixth round and then following that with a selection of Gallup in the seventh is the single best “value” stack on the board in fantasy football in 2020. You are able to capture a QB who could easily lead the position in scoring which sounds absurd on its’ face until you realize that in Dak’s best ever fantasy season, he actually had his worst rush outcomes. In addition, you’re able to add a 24-year old wide receiver who projects as a mid-range WR2 with a rational ceiling of a top 10 player at the position.
Kyler Murray (72nd Overall, QB4) + Christian Kirk (100th overall, WR39)
The Cardinals were mostly viewed as a disappointment last season by those who heavily invested in David Johnson, Kyler Murray, and Christian Kirk. The team promised to run at a breakneck pace and mostly abandoned that after the first month of the season, finishing with the 22nd most plays run in the NFL. However, Kyler joined Cam Newton as only the second rookie QB ever to pass for 3,500 yards and rush for 500 yards. Kyler did this while throwing over a third of his targets to the likes of Pharoh Cooper, KeeSean Johnson, Michael Crabtree and Maxx Williams.
Arizona added DeAndre Hopkins and excavated David Johnson’s fossilized contract to the Houston Texans. Christian Kirk reportedly struggled through a semi-severe ankle injury for most of last season’s disappointing sophomore campaign and there is now hope that Andy Isabella and his 4.31-speed might ready to play in 2020. They also added Josh Jones, a high-upside right tackle in the 2020 NFL draft though he may not be ready to play in year one.
Let us not forget that Christian Kirk is a historical quality of prospect and an insanely good stylistic fit for the Air Raid offense. PlayerProfiler.com highlights just how good of a player Kirk was expected to be when he entered the NFL.
The reasons to buy into Kyler + Kirk are mostly projecting improvement, though. Projecting that a Heisman Trophy + Offensive Rookie Of The Year winner will improve, that Kliff Kingsbury will improve and become more aggressive after a year of coaching and that Kirk can play a season without injury. We’ve seen flashes of brilliance from Kirk and there is little doubt from the analytics or the film community that he can be a high-end WR in the NFL while healthy. Given that Kirk can be drafted as late as the ninth round in some less competitive leagues with some of the higher-end range of outcomes for the Cardinals season, he is basically an imperative grab if you select Kyler Murray earlier in your draft.
Matt Ryan (123rd overall, QB8) + Calvin Ridley (40th Overall, WR14)
Chances are, if you engage in the consumption of fantasy football content, you already love Calvin Ridley. You know that Julio Jones is officially past-prime in terms of wide receiver aging curves while Ridley is now heading into his prime seasons (ages 26 and 27 for wide receivers). You know that Matt Ryan has thrown over 600 passes in each of the last two seasons and lost Austin Hooper (second on the team in targets last year) and that the Falcons reserve wide receivers are career backups. In Ridley’s short career, he has been one of the most efficient players that Matt Ryan has ever played with. Using the RotoViz AYA tool, we can see that over 175 targets, Ridley has been even more efficient than Julio Jones.
Realistically, there is a giant target share for both Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. Of the teams’ 655 targets last year, 209 have been vacated. Todd Gurley saw only 49 targets last year, with many speculating that his knee troubles didn’t really allow him to be effective in the passing game any longer. After Ridley and Jones, the Falcons passing tree is Russell Gage (86 career targets), Hayden Hurst (62 career targets), Justin Hardy (144 career targets in five seasons) and second-year player Olamide Zaccheaus.
This could be a historic volume situation for Ridley and for Ryan. Falcons OC Dirk Koetter has called plays for offenses that ranked first (2019 Falcons), third (2017 Buccaneers), and fourth (2018 Buccaneers) in total pass attempts over the last three years. Atlanta is, again, going to have a terrible defense like the one that conceded the 10th most points and eighth most net adjusted yards per passing attempt last season. Fantasy football doesn’t really have to be that hard. Calvin Ridley is a high-pedigree, young and productive player who is going to get an absurd amount of volume in 2020.
Carson Wentz (134th Overall, QB9) + Zach Ertz (32nd Overall, TE4)/Jalen Reagor (120th overall, WR48)
Carson Wentz has been a lot better (and healthier) than the market gives him credit for. Wentz has 19 games with 20 or more fantasy points out of 56 starts and posted a QB10 season last year while his pass-catchers dropped like flies. DeSean Jackson played in only three games, Alshon Jeffrey in only 10 and Zach Ertz played hurt as well. Greg Ward, Deontay Burnett, and Boston Scott all had to play for the Eagles at wide receiver in their lone 2019 playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
The fact that Wentz is exceedingly affordable is a huge bonus for stacking as you don’t have to “force it” which is definitely a problem with the strategy. Dak, Kyler, Mahomes, Lamar and DeShaun Watson are all apart of the highest projected cumulative stacks but obviously you’re paying sticker price for those points. Wentz can be had for a 12th/13th round pick and offers legit rushing upsides. In 56 career games, Wentz has 785 rushing touchdowns with only three rushing touchdowns. Compare that to divisional rival Dak Prescott who has 1,221 rushing yards but 21 (!!!!) rushing touchdowns in 64 games. Just a small bit of positive regression and/or usage of Wentz around the goalline the way other teams with rushing-capable use their signal-callers adds to Wentz’s ceiling in a meaningful.
While Kyler Murray and Josh Allen have gotten far more pub than Wentz, he was just as productive as that pair on a per-game basis and was doing so in possibly the worst offensive environment of the three.
As far as Ertz goes, his baselines are strong as it gets at the TE position. He has lead the Eagles in targets in two of Wentz’s two seasons as a starter (and lead them in targets per game in a third) and has been in order: TE5, TE3, TE3, TE8 in the four seasons he has played with Wentz. You’re getting a good-to-great tight end season with between 130-155 targets in a healthy Zach Ertz season. Reagor represents far more risk, as the last highly-drafted Eagles rookie wide receiver ended up losing snaps to street free agents. However, Reagor represents a significant investment (21st overall pick) and with rumors that Alshon Jeffrey might not even be healthy enough to play in 2020, there is a 100+ target season out there for Reagor. Given Reagor’s current cost, this is a cheap and rational triple stack to build in tournament formats.
Ben Roethlisberger (187th Overall, QB19) + JuJu Smith-Shuster (36th Overall, WR12)
It is almost instructive to treat 2019 as if it did not happen for both Big Ben and JuJu Smith-Shuster. Ben played in only 1.5 games, throwing 62 total passes while Smith-Shuster played in 12 games while reportedly played through a multitude of lower-body injuries. These two players are only 18 months removed from playing for the offense that lead the NFL in passing attempts and passing yards.
Even including Smith-Shusters horrible 2019 in which he was forced to play injured with the likes of Mason Rudolph and Duck Hodges, his historical comps remain truly elite.
These are all of the wide receivers in NFL history to record more than 2,800 yards and 15 touchdowns before the age of 24. Smith-Shuster’s tallies here INCLUDES his miserable 2019 season where he played in only 12 games. Moss, Evans, Hopkins, and Fitzgerald are all Hall Of Famers or on HOF trajectory. Amari Cooper and Allen Robinson are both considered great fantasy investments by the market. Brandin Cooks is a different style of player who has had enough concussions now that we can question his future. Hakeem Nicks and David Boston are the true busts on this list and could be considered cautionary tales for those who aren’t drafting Smith-Shuster in the fourth round.
The incredible prowess Smith-Shuster displayed as one of the most precocious players the NFL has ever seen did not just disappear. It’s possible that lower-body injuries might rob him of some of the dramatic explosiveness he had but I am betting against it. If the Steelers had any semblance of competent QB play behind Roethlisberger last season, it is hard to imagine Smith-Shuster being this much of a value in drafts.
As for Ben, it is pretty simple. If he is healthy, he is going to be one of the best 12 quarterbacks in fantasy football. Even with the younger tier of QBs adding rushing upside he has never had, in Ben’s elder years the Steelers have been one of the pass-heaviest teams in football. In the three year stretch from 2016-2018, the Steelers ranked ninth, sixth, and first in the NFL in passing attempts. Over just the past three years, the Steelers have drafted James Washington, Chase Claypool, Smith-Shuster and Dionate Johnson with top-100 picks in the NFL draft while signing Vance McDonald and Eric Ebron at tight end (a position that the organization ignored for quite some time).
Simply put, this stack has the ability to generate the most QB-to-WR targets in the NFL if Juju Smith-Shuster is who we believe him to be. While Ben has almost no chance at finishing as the top quarterback in fantasy football, his high scoring weeks should be perfectly correlated with Smith-Shuster’s explosion weeks making this a great stack to target.