All of us playing these monstrous NFL Best Ball Tournaments on Underdog, DraftKings or even FFPC are looking to extract just about any edge possible in pursuit of those huge top prizes. While I don’t think we should be going out of our way or giving up ADP value to stack championship round games (the most important thing is just winning your league and then getting to that round anyway), I think we can keep it in the back of our mind as our drafts are coming together as a little added bonus to a player’s value on a particular roster build you might have.
It’s not just main stacks either. Of course if you have Mahomes and Tyreek, and you want to take Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd and Mecole Hardman at their respective ADPs that’s more than fine. But just like we do in dfs, building in secondary correlations with players not on our stacks can be beneficial as well for our week 17 upside. In that Chiefs example, maybe you instead drafted Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the 2nd round, so when deciding between Jamarr Chase and Adam Thielen in the 5th, you choose Chase.
Like I said, it’s not something we need to be going out of our way to target, but it can be a sort of tiebreaker that builds in just a hint of added win equity to our best ball teams. And that’s all we are really trying to do… maximize our win equity as much as possible over our portfolio of teams.
Anyway, let’s talk about some football games that don’t happen for 7 months.
Week 17 Stack Targets
Texans @ 49ers
I’m sure you thought I was going to start with one of the more high profile shootout looking games, but I actually think this game has as much appeal as any. I get it, the Texans are an abomination. But the only thing that’s going to be worse than the Texans offense this year… is the Texans defense. You are probably aware of my affinity for the monster upside of this 49ers offense this season, and they draw what I feel extremely comfortable saying will be a truly pathetic defense in the championship round. I obviously cannot say which players given how far out we are, but some 49ers will be putting up fantasy points in this game. That much we can feel extremely confident in.
Building a Texan into your drafts with 49ers will not feel fun, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have upside in a ton of negative game scripts, including in the championship week. I can already see us using any of Brandin Cooks, Nico Collins, or even Jordan Akins or rookie Brevin Jordan as bring backs in DFS game stacks this season, so why aren’t we considering them for best ball? Given their incredibly cheap price tags, I think Akins, Jordan and Collins make a ton of sense. Akins could generate a lot more volume than we expect as the safety valve in negative game scripts now that Darren Fells is gone from this team, or Collins and Jordan could emerge down the stretch as the team is trying to see what their rookies can do. Akins and Jordan are going undrafted and could make sense on teams with 49ers & an elite TE (Kelce, Kittle, etc), and Collins is a nice upside late round WR.
Chiefs @ Bengals
This one is probably pretty self-explanatory considering Chiefs games are such strong game stacks week in and week out. The Bengals with the return of Joe Burrow and the addition of Jamarr Chase also are primed to take a big step offensively, so it’s easy to see fireworks here.
I think this game deserves discussion though because it’s not quite as easy as maybe some of the other games to stack, mostly due to the cost of the Chiefs players. You flat out can’t get both Kelce and Tyreek, and Mahomes is a 3rd round pick. Even Mixon is a 2nd rounder, and Chase is going in the 5th. But I think there are a lot of ways you can attack this one.
I personally am not drafting Mahomes much if at all, but Kelce or Tyreek in the first are a great way to get Chiefs exposure. From there, Mixon in the 2nd can create a super clean secondary correlation. If Mixon doesn’t land in your lap there, the 3 Bengals WRs (Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd) go in rounds 5, 6 and 7 respectively. You can get a secondary correlation with a high upside WR there, or you can even come back with 1-2 of those WRs and Joe Burrow as your stack to pair with a Kelce or Hill bring back. Even CEH in the 2nd round or mid-round Mecole Hardman are other options for this one. So while it’s maybe not quite as clean cut as some other games from a traditional stack sense, we have a ton of options for getting access to this game.
Cardinals @ Cowboys
Another one that probably doesn’t need a ton of hype considering Cowboys games were some of the most absurd shootouts in recent memory when Dak was healthy. The Cowboys defense doesn’t look much better talent wise, and the Cardinals might have some of the weakest corners in football trying to matchup with Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup in the championship round.
There are interesting ways to go with this one, as well. With DeAndre Hopkins, Cooper and Lamb going in the first 3 rounds, and both QBs in the top 5 (or so) rounds, it’s certainly a premium stack. Michael Gallup and Rondale Moore, however, provide major upside at much cheaper costs in the mid to late rounds at WR. You could even pass on the studs in this game and opt for a Gallup/Rondale secondary correlation.
Tony Pollard is a popular #zeroRB option due to his upside if Zeke were to go down, but I think the Cardinals RBs deserve serious consideration in this context as well. I don’t think most of the market agrees with me, but I’m a pretty big fan of Chase Edmonds this year. I do not think James Conner is going to step into a big role for this team, and Edmonds was already playing the passing game role last year. It’s not super clear, so I get why Edmonds is going where he is going in drafts, but especially when we take into account this Cowboys correlation, I think Edmonds could have a monster impact on our best ball teams, particularly in PPR formats (like DraftKings), and he merits some exposure even if he isn’t your top 6th round pick.
Falcons @ Bills
Given their salary cap woes, the Falcons weren’t able to upgrade an already bad defense, and that gives the elite Bills offense a juicy championship matchup. The Bills top two options, Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs, are not super easy to get in drafts, and Calvin Ridley and Kyle Pitts are becoming similar. However, even if you only land one of those skill guys, there are additional options further down the draft board that you can use as secondary correlations.
If Mike Davis maintains a role in the pass game, he should be set up to catch plenty of balls in this high scoring affair, and he would pair well with Diggs or even an Allen/Diggs stack, particularly since you’d likely be less RB heavy in that build. Or maybe you land Kyle Pitts are your premium TE in the 5th round… the Bills have a myriad of other options which are actually extremely cheap – Cole Beasley, Zac Moss, Devin Singletary, Gabriel Davis and Emmanuel Sanders. Even Dawson Knox has shown TD upside in this offense as a last round TE.
The Falcons clearly opened up more volume in their pass game with the departure of Julio Jones, and while names like Russell Gage and Olamide Zaccheaus aren’t fun, most of these later round WRs are coin flips, so breaking the tie by correlating them with your Bills can make plenty of sense.
As I mentioned at the top, you shouldn’t be building your drafts around these week 17 game stacks or secondary correlations. Don’t go out of your way to force these things, but as you draft, keeping them in the back of your mind and taking the opportunities that arise when they make sense value wise can be a great way to add in just a little bit of extra upside that your opponents aren’t. Clearly you need to get to the championship round first, which is why you need to make sure to not give up too much value or create poorly structured teams in order to stack. Also, the above examples within each game are very far from an exhaustive list of ways to set up those correlations, but hopefully they help get the wheels turning on how to simultaneously maximize your chances of winning your league while boosting your win equity in the ever important championship round just a tick higher than your opponents.