As we move further into the month of August, the fever for fantasy football drafts is in full throttle. If you're looking to scratch that draft itch — before the traditional fantasy football leagues kick off this season — look no further than the brand-new Best Ball game on DraftKings.
After high demand, the DFS giant has added Best Ball to its arsenal of gaming experiences, giving players access to season-long formats with sit & go’s and tournaments. But if you're going to finish in the money, you’ll need a sound strategy.
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Stacking is the best approach in Best Ball formats because it differentiates a roster and maximizes upside. The following list identifies some of the top Best Ball player stacks to target. Keep in mind that you can't choose any set of teammates — if their ADPs/rankings are close, you won't be able to draft both players. This list takes draft capital into consideration, making each of these recommended stacks attainable in almost any Best Ball league.
For more stack recommendations, be sure to check out an earlier article on some of my Top Best Ball stacks for fantasy football 2020.
The Cleveland Browns are the post-hype sleepers for the 2020 season — book it. Almost every Browns player is being undervalued, and that starts with quarterback Baker Mayfield who is being drafted as the QB17 on DraftKings. The Browns’ quarterback is a clear bounce-back candidate with the team getting upgrades across the offensive line, Odell Beckham Jr. returning healthy and Kevin Stefanski entering as the new head coach.
The Browns finished last season as the 23rd-ranked offensive line unit, but after the priority additions of tackles Jack Conklin and Jedrick Wills Jr. they enter at No. 6 overall in PFF’s latest offensive line rankings for 2020. That upgrade should help the offense plenty.
In 2018, when Mayfield earned PFF’s 11th-highest passing grade (79.9), he was under pressure on just 29% of his dropbacks, fifth-lowest in the league among 31 quarterbacks with at least 300 dropbacks. That pressure rate increased to 33.4% in 2019 and was a contributing factor to Mayfield’s 19th-ranked PFF passing grade (71.5).
The pressure Mayfield experienced also seemed to affect his deep passing accuracy. On his deep pass attempts (20-plus yards) in 2019, he was under pressure on 34% of his dropbacks vs. 2018 (31%). In general, Mayfield’s average yards per attempt (eighth to 18th) and adjusted completion percentage (third to 25th) fell off significantly on deep passes.
Baker Mayfield on Deep Passes
|PFF Passing Grade||Adjusted Completion %||Dropback Pressure %||Average Yards per Attempt|
Less pressure is going to help Mayfield greatly in the deep passing game — from a clean pocket since 2018, his touchdown passes and adjusted completion percentage both rank inside the to-six.
Throwing deep has been nothing new for Mayfield since entering the NFL, as he ranks top-five in both attempts and completions on those throws since 2018. The volume downfield is going to be there for him and Beckham to connect on more big plays.
Most 20-Plus Yard Completions Since 2018
The duo tried to connect last season, with Beckham seeing the second-most deep targets (33) at the wide receiver position. But they connected on just eight passes — a meager 24.2% reception percentage — which ranked third-to-last among all wide receivers with at least 20 deep targets.
I expect them to take a big leap forward in terms of chemistry, like the step that Mayfield and Jarvis Landry took in their second season together. In Mayfield’s first season with Landry, they struggled with consistency early on. In 2019, Landry finished as the WR12.
Specifically, Landry’s deep ball reception percentage increased from 37.5% (11th) to 50%, which ranked third among qualifying wide receivers in 2019.
And don’t let anyone convince you that Beckham is washed up, either — despite playing hurt throughout all of 2019, he still ranked 12th in plays of 15 or more yards and 16th in YAC per reception (4.5) among receivers with at least 100 targets.
Don’t be surprised to see Beckham’s 2020 stat line look eerily similar to Stefon Diggs’ 2019, when he led the NFL in deep ball receptions (16) under Kevin Stefanski.
Stefanski’s addition in Cleveland is going to do wonders for Mayfield and the passing game from an efficiency standpoint, just as it did with Kirk Cousins in Minnesota. Last season under Stefanski, Cousins had a career-high touchdown percentage (5.9%) and earned the highest PFF passing grade of his career (85.9), which ranked fifth among quarterbacks.
Part of his success stemmed from Cousins using play action. The Vikings’ quarterback tied Lamar Jackson for the most touchdowns off play action (14) in 2019. And guess who ranked third? Mayfield with 11 touchdowns.
With continued use of play action, I expect Mayfield to be one of the more efficient quarterbacks in 2020 despite low passing volume in a run-heavy offense. After all, Cousins had one of his most efficient seasons under Stefanski, and we see quarterbacks every single season post-above-average passing efficiency numbers (Lamar Jackson, Ryan Tannehill).
With all the offensive firepower at Mayfield’s disposal — including Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, Austin Hooper, and David Njoku (many of whom are values) — you’ll want as many pieces of the Browns as you can get, especially considering they have one of the easiest schedules.
The Los Angeles Rams have movd on from wide receiver Brandin Cooks, leaving Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp as the top two target hogs on the offense. With Cooks in and out of the lineup last season, both Woods (129) and Kupp (132) ranked inside the top-12 in total targets among all wide receivers.
Woods is going slightly later than Kupp (WR24 vs. WR21), so he comes in as a slightly better value, but if you can double-dip on the Rams’ receivers in Rounds 4 and 5 you are set. At least one of the two finished as a top-17 wide receiver in 69% of games played in 2019.
What’s more astounding is that their combined production essentially produced a top-four wide receiver and a low-end WR2.
Overall Scoring (PPR)
|Weeks 1-8||Weeks 10-17||Average|
Woods also offers some sneaky upside — he is due for some positive touchdown regression after being the only receiver to score fewer than four touchdowns (two) in 2019 despite eclipsing 1,100 receiving yards.
He is also a probable candidate to fill-in as a deep ball target for the offense. Woods leads the team in deep targets (48) since 2017. The veteran receiver also has the highest PFF passing grade (89.0) when targeted by quarterback Jared Goff among all Rams players since he joined the team.
Goff is not going to offer any upside as a runner, but he can more than deliver as a passer — the exact recipe for a successful stacking strategy. He is being drafted as the QB20, but fantasy gamers are sleeping on the Rams’ signal-caller. Over his last three seasons, he has finished QB12, QB6 and QB12, as noted by PFF’s Sosa Kremenjas in his fantasy football stats to know article.
Goff has thrown for over 4,600 yards in back-to-back seasons. There is going to be more than enough passing volume to go around.
Other parts of the Rams’ offense are also worth adding to the L.A. stack. Rookie running back Cam Akers can be obtained in the sixth round of most drafts. As you get into the double-digit rounds, target Malcolm Brown, Gerald Everett and Josh Reynolds.
Brown could potentially be the goal-line back for the Rams. Everett could emerge as the No. 1 tight end. And Reynolds has upside as a vertical threat. The veteran receiver ranked second on the team in aDOT (11.4) in 2019.
This is a simple stack that virtually anybody will be able to pull off because it costs almost zero high-end draft capital. Ryan Tannehill is being drafted as the QB21, A.J. Brown as WR15 and Jonnu Smith as TE16.
The approach behind this stack is buying into the idea that the Tennessee Titans’ unsustainable rushing attack from 2019 will not continue into 2020, resulting in an uptick in passing volume. You won’t be adding Derrick Henry for this reason but instead going all-in on Tannehill’s projected top-two receiving options.
Once Tannehill became the full-fledged starter, Brown and Smith ranked first and second on the Titans in target rate on routes run and ranked fifth (2.56) and eighth (1.89) in yards per route run at their respective positions. Forty-one percent of Tannehill’s passing touchdowns went to one of those players in 2019.
The increase in passing volume will be the key to this stack. The average NFL team last season averaged 35 passing attempts per game. Under Tannehill, the Titans averaged 19.5. Fans might not see the same efficiency from Tannehill in 2020, but he can still deliver for fantasy — especially if offensive coordinator Arthur Smith continues to leverage play action for his quarterback.
Tannehill benefited greatly from heavy play-action usage in 2019. His yards per attempt increased by an average of 6.0 (No. 1) and nobody threw for more yards off play action passes. This bodes extremely well for Brown — no player had more receiving yards off play action passes than Brown (436) or a higher yards per route run (5.32) from Week 7 on.
Stacking Strategy 101
There’s a case to make that if you want to stack heavily, you shouldn’t be targeting mobile quarterbacks. Lamar Jackson is going to rush for his share of touchdowns, which won't benefit his receivers in fantasy. If Baker Mayfield throws two touchdowns to Odell Beckham Jr., that's almost twice the fantasy points and likely a spike week in best ball formats.
Obviously, Jackson could throw two touchdown passes to one of his receivers while also rushing for two. But sometimes there are only so many scores to go around (Patrick Mahomes scoffs).
In today’s fantasy football landscape, the buzz is focused on mobile quarterbacks. The best way to combat that trend in best ball leagues is to go all-in on a quarterback’s arm and his primary pass-catcher to achieve maximum stacking status.