Fantasy News & Analysis

Fantasy Football: Best middle-tier QB-WR stacks to target in Best Ball leagues

Seeking out QB-WR stacks is one of the more fun aspects of best ball strategy. Looking specifically for mid-tier options takes this one step further: By waiting to stack a mid-round quarterback with another mid-round receiver, we can pour more early-round resources into running backs and elite-level receivers.

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There are plenty of good quarterbacks available in the mid-rounds, so let's see which ones also have quality receivers we can pick up at a discount — and then cash in on spike weeks. All average draft position numbers are sourced from BestBall10s drafts dating back to the beginning of July.

Matthew Stafford (121.18 ADP) + Marvin Jones Jr (82.93 ADP)

I’ve talked about this Detroit Lions duo on multiple occasions and will continue to do so. Stafford and Jones individually possess the ability to dominate in 2020, but they have true league-winning upside when combined. In the nine weeks Stafford played last season, he ranked sixth in total fantasy points (177.6) and seventh in points per dropback (0.55). No quarterback attempted more 20-plus yard pass attempts than Stafford during those nine weeks — he had 56 deep pass attempts. The Lions transformed into a downfield passing attack last season.

Detroit Lions Weeks 1-9 | 2019
Category Figure (Rank)
Passing attempts 291 (15th)
Deep pass attempts (20-plus yards) 56 (1st)
Explosive pass plays (15-plus yards) 60 (5th)
Explosive pass percentage 18.8% (2nd)
Passing yards per attempt 8.59 (3rd)
Deep pass attempt percentage 19.2% (1st)

Stafford’s penchant for pushing the ball downfield worked to perfection for fantasy last year. Not only did the downfield passing attack lead to great success for Stafford (he ranked first in average depth of target among quarterbacks with 25-plus attempts), but his receivers also benefited tremendously. Jones was healthy for the first 13 weeks, during which time he ranked 13th in total fantasy points (187.1) and explosive pass plays (21). Jones’ workload proved to be non-fluky, as he registered a total of 84 targets in those 13 weeks — only one fewer than teammate Kenny Golladay.

Jones is used in a complementary role to Golladay — the latter operates as the vertical receiver who wins downfield, whereas Jones’ usage varies. Last season, Jones and Golladay basically took turns putting up big weeks almost every other week. That's another reason to target this duo in best ball. Stafford’s eight healthy weeks in 2019 proved both players can sustain legitimate fantasy relevance, particularly in best ball formats.

According to PFF’s strength of schedule metric, the Lions’ quarterback room has the 18th-easiest schedule, and the receivers have the easiest schedule in the league in 2020. In addition, PFF’s fantasy projections rank Stafford with a QB15 finish (262.6 points) and Jones with a WR21 finish (209.0 points). Fire up this duo with confidence, as both players are very likely to absolutely crush their ADPs, barring any injuries.

Daniel Jones (123.90 ADP) + Golden Tate (129.92 ADP)

Jones ranked eighth among all quarterbacks in scoring (244.5 points) when we limit the sample to the weeks in which the rookie played (Weeks 3-13, 16, 17). His real-life performance might have been unstable, but Jones’ rookie season was a major success in the fantasy landscape. Some of the intrigue stems from his rushing ability — he totaled 42 rushing attempts for 281 yards and two touchdowns. Jones' 6.7 yards per carry actually ranked seventh among quarterbacks.

While many are touting Darius Slayton as the receiver to own in New York, Golden Tate offers a discounted price tag at more than 30 picks later. From Week 5 on (when Tate played), he ranked first on the team in targets (81), receptions (49) and yards (676). Tate’s 154.2 total fantasy points ranked 26th among receivers over that time frame, coming in only two spots behind Slayton’s WR24 ranking. Tate once again proved deadly as a weapon with the ball in his hands, ranking ninth in receiving yards after the catch (291) and 13th in receiving yards after contact (130).

The New York Giants were a poor offense that did not rank well in red zone plays (23rd) or goal line plays (23rd). Although their real-life performance was less than admirable, the Giants did rank 10th in passing attempts, ninth in deep pass attempts and third in pass play percentage (68.2%). The Giants ranked second in plays run while trailing (536 snaps) during the weeks that Jones operated as the quarterback. Teams that trail are obviously more likely to pass than run — as evidenced by the Giants’ pass play percentage — and their ratio presented more opportunities for their pass-game weapons to make plays.

Jones’ 18 fumbles not only led the league, but they were the most fumbles in a single season dating all the way back to 2002 when Daunte Culpepper fumbled 23 times. Stats like that are exactly why the best ball format suits a player like Jones — his worst weeks will typically be minimized and his best weeks are likely to land in your lineup.

PFF’s strength of schedule metric is not as kind to the Giants, with the quarterbacks slated for just the 23rd-best schedule, and the receivers’ schedule is third to last. PFF’s fantasy projections do see some value in this duo, however, with Jones ranked as the QB17 and Tate ranked as the WR37.

Baker Mayfield (134.24 ADP) + Jarvis Landry (70.06 ADP)

The 2019 season did not go as planned for Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns. A potential MVP candidate prior to the season, Mayfield’s QB19 ranking (252.2 fantasy points) was a huge disappointment after a promising rookie campaign. Though he struggled, Mayfield did rank 18th in yards per attempt (7.2) and 13th in average depth of target (9.2). The main issues were his 21 interceptions (second in the league) and 69 inaccurate incompletions attributed to the quarterback (eighth in the league).

The lack of chemistry with newly acquired wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was evident, as Beckham ranked first in the league in inaccurate targets (27). Not only was Beckham high on the list, but Landry wasn’t far behind, either — he ranked eighth in the same category with 20 inaccurate targets due to his quarterback’s play. Simply put, Mayfield needs to improve his accuracy and his chemistry with his weapons.

On the other hand, regardless of circumstance, Landry continues to produce — his 2019 season ended with a WR12 ranking and 237.4 fantasy points. Landry’s consistency knows no bounds:

Jarvis Landry | 2019
Category Figure (Rank)
Targets 130 (9th)
Receiving yards after the catch 432 (7th)
Receiving yards after contact 227 (5th)
Missed tackles forced on receptions 15 (6th)
Explosive pass plays (15-plus yards) 33 (4th)

Kevin Stefanski’s hiring as the new head coach in Cleveland should not affect Landry’s production much, if at all. The Minnesota Vikings were one of the most balanced offenses in football in 2019, with a pass play percentage of 52.0% (31st), though their efficiency made up for a lack of raw attempts. They managed to rank sixth in passing yards per attempt at 8.01.

The Browns’ weapons — and Mayfield’s philosophy — are drastically different than the Vikings’ 2019 roster. It’s fair to expect the Browns’ pass play percentage to decrease moving forward (61.4% in 2019), though Landry’s efficiency and ability to create with the ball in his hands tends to fit any offense. With a WR31 price tag, Landry is likely to significantly out-produce his ADP.

PFF’s strength of schedule metric ranks the Browns’ quarterback schedule as the 11th-easiest and the receiver schedule as the eighth-easiest. PFF’s fantasy projections have Mayfield slated for a QB19 finish and Landry a WR20 finish. If Mayfield can revert to his rookie form and continue to work on his chemistry and accuracy, the potential for this offense — and this duo — is far superior than their performance in 2019.

Jared Goff (142.07 ADP) + Josh Reynolds (226.91 ADP)

Goff should be considered in any discussion about underrated fantasy football quarterbacks, even though he possesses zero rushing upside. With finishes of QB12, QB6 and QB12 over the past three seasons, Goff has become one of the more uninspiring-yet-consistent producers at the position. Much of what he does isn’t flashy, but the former first-overall pick operates well within head coach Sean McVay’s offense — which helps utilize quarterback talent and stretches defenses vertically and horizontally both pre- and post-snap.

Over the past three seasons, Goff ranks third in passing yards (13,130), fifth in passing touchdowns (82) and ninth in YPA (7.9) among quarterbacks with at least 250 passing attempts. Although Goff’s offensive line won’t be nearly as good in 2020 as it was in 2017 or 2018, McVay’s ability to scheme offensive production and his sheer passing volume are likely to help overcome the lackluster OL play. PFF’s Ben Linsey ranked the Rams’ offensive line 31st in the NFL after the 2019 season, yet Goff still managed a QB12 finish with the porous offensive line and a litany of injuries at the offensive skill positions. Some of the factors that helped Goff overcome the offensive line can be found here:

Los Angeles Rams | 2019
Category Figure (Rank)
Red zone plays 167 (3rd)
Goal line plays 48 (5th)
Passing attempts 632 (3rd)
Explosive pass plays (15-plus yards) 115 (2nd)
Pass play percentage 63.3% (12th)
Explosive pass percentage 17.2% (4th)
Passing yards per attempt 7.39 (13th)

The Rams had no issues with their pass-game productivity. Both Goff and the rotating group of weapons he had on a weekly basis produced, though certain weeks did end with much less production than others.

Plenty of pass-game opportunities opened up for the Rams’ receiving corps once Brandin Cooks was traded. Cooks’ 67 targets in 2019 (an injury-plagued season) ranked fourth on the team, and his 110 targets in 2018 ranked second. Although Reynolds is not expected to suddenly become a full-time player who will register 85% or more of his team’s snaps, he's the de facto deep threat on a team suddenly lacking one. Over the past two seasons, Reynolds’ 12.8 aDOT and 14.6 yards per reception ranked second on the team. Reynolds’ efficiency metrics could stand to improve, though he is the receiver most likely to benefit from Cooks’ departure, as their usage within the offense was similar.

With Reynolds’ reliance on the deep pass, his almost-free ADP is best suited for a best ball format. There will be certain weeks where vertical passes hit — which could mean long touchdowns — with the remaining weeks potentially producing a goose egg.

PFF’s strength of schedule metric ranks the Rams’ quarterback schedule as the 17th-easiest and the wide receiver schedule as the 12th-easiest in 2020. PFF’s fantasy projections are high on Goff, with an expected QB11 finish on the season. Reynolds comes in much lower on the list, as he is projected with a WR93 finish and a total of 71.1 fantasy points. Reynolds may not produce WR1 or even WR2 numbers, but he offers a prime opportunity for cheap equity in a strong and productive passing offense.

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