Stacking in fantasy football best ball formats is one of the best ways to differentiate a roster and maximize upside. Since the format automatically generates the best starting lineup each week based on the highest-scoring players, stacking offensive players on the same team capitalizes on their big weeks. Remember that there is no waiver wire and no start/sit decisions — in best ball, we're just drafting for the season and letting everything else play out.
The most common stacks involve a quarterback and his wide receivers — the WR obviously can't blow up without a decent game out of his QB. This can pay dividends on an offense that racks up yards and points in real life.
Over a decade ago, my grandfather stacked Peyton Manning and all his receivers with the Indianapolis Colts. Needless to say, Gramps wiped the floor with the competition.
The following list identifies some of the top best ball stacks available. Keep in mind that you can't choose just any set of teammates — if their ADPs are close, you won't be able to draft both players. So Patrick Mahomes stacks with Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill are out of the question. This list takes ADP into consideration, making each of these recommended stacks attainable in almost any best ball league.
Jimmy Garoppolo – George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers
Garoppolo is being underrated in current BestBall10s, going as the QB21 despite finishing as QB14 in 2019. Last year, Jimmy G showed that he is more than capable of putting up spike fantasy weeks — he had four weeks as a top-seven fantasy quarterback and six weeks as a top-12 option. This makes him the perfect best ball quarterback to target in the later rounds because you will benefit from these spike performances. His draft price also makes it extremely easy to pair him with some of his pass-catchers.
Kittle will cost you at least a second-round pick, but knowing you can easily pair him with Garoppolo makes the stack a great option. This is realistically the only elite tight end stack you can make without overdrafting — Mark Andrews and Travis Kelce will require significant draft capital to pair with their respective quarterbacks, Lamar Jackson and Mahomes. Those Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs stacks will cost you at least two top-three picks.
The Garoppolo-Kittle connection is also extremely correlated. Last season, Kittle finished as a top-four tight end in four of the six games Garoppolo finished as a top-12 quarterback.
You can also expand on the San Francisco 49ers’ stack with wide receivers and running backs because all the 49ers skill players are coming at a discount. Running back Raheem Mostert’s ADP is falling due to his recent trade demands, while backup Tevin Coleman is still being undervalued as one of the league’s best handcuffs as the RB40.
Coleman is the best stacking option because he showed last season that he's the most-used receiver of the group. He led 49ers running backs in routes run, receptions, targets and red-zone targets, along with leading the team in red-zone carries (28) and carries inside the 5-yard line (nine).
Deebo Samuel led the 49ers in routes a season ago, and his ADP is also discounted because of his injury — he's being drafted as the WR37. Samuel is not someone I'm targeting in traditional redraft leagues because of the foot injury. But in a best ball — where you don't have to worry about bench spots or start/sit decisions — he's a good pick as part of a 49ers stack. If you miss out on Samuel, there are still great late-round options who could be significant contributors for the 49ers in 2020 like Brandon Aiyuk and Jalen Hurd. Both are being drafted outside the top 150 players and outside the top 60 wide receivers.
According to PFF’s strength of schedule, the 49ers have one of the most favorable schedules for quarterbacks, further cementing Garoppolo as a great QB to build around in best ball formats.
Matt Ryan – Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons are going to throw plenty in 2020, which makes their quarterback and pass-catchers enticing options in best ball formats. Stacking the Falcons works best when you're picking toward the back end of the first round so you can grab Julio Jones with one of your first picks.
After that, it’s a “rinse and repeat” strategy, as you can continue to draft Atlanta receivers along with their quarterback at their current ADPs without any extensive reaching: Calvin Ridley in the fourth round, Matt Ryan in the ninth round and Hayden Hurst in the 10th.
This gives you a lot of skin in an offense, led by Dirk Koetter, that will rely heavily on the pass. The Falcons ranked in the top three in the league in pass percentage during three of Koetter's four seasons calling the offense in Atlanta from 2012-2014 and 2019 — and they ranked seventh in the other. This heavy-pass approach resulted in a strong correlation between Ryan and his receivers.
In 2019, Ryan finished as a top-10 fantasy quarterback six times. In those games, Jones finished as a top-10 receiver four times, which included three top-six finishes. Ridley finished as top-13 receiver three times, and former Falcons tight end Austin Hooper finished as a top-eight option three times.
If you want to capture all the potential touchdowns in the offense, adding Todd Gurley in a Falcons stack will also be effective. Gurley is being drafted in the third round. Snagging him will ensure your best ball squad a large portion of the team’s goal-line carries — plus, he's likely to see an uptick in passing game usage in 2020.
In 2019, Gurley earned a career-low in PFF receiving grade (34.8) with his lowest reception (21) and target (45) totals since his rookie year. Devonta Freeman, who served as the primary running back for the Falcons in 2019, had 59 receptions on 64 targets in just 14 games.
With a lack of depth at wide receiver, tight end and running back, the offense is going to feature concentrated target shares to its top players, meaning upside to deliver big any given week.
Cam Newton – James White, New England Patriots
Newton has shaken up the best ball draft boards, rising to QB16 in the month of July after essentially being a free commodity (QB29) for months. Newton’s landing spot should have influenced the draft stock of several Patriots offensive pieces, but the market seems uncertain of which players need to be moved up or moved down with the new quarterback. This does not equate — if the market is projecting Newton as the QB16, then all the Patriots skill players are currently being undervalued. This makes stacking the Patriots’ offense much easier.
|ADP in BestBall10s|
|Mohamed Sanu Sr.||WR90||WR85|
James White is the first player to pair with Newton — they have a chance to build a special connection in an offense that has historically used the running back in the passing game. As Newton showed in his past two seasons with Christian McCaffrey, when there is an effective pass-catching running back present in the offense, he will target him. Newton's target percentage to running backs increased dramatically with McCaffrey in 2017 and 2018.
|Cam Newton's percentage of targets to running backs|
The duo also has the chance to put up splash fantasy weeks because of how efficient both have been in the red zone. Newton over the past two seasons in the red zone ranked fifth in touchdowns per dropback (0.27) and third in adjusted completion percentage (77.6%). Meanwhile, White has the second-most red-zone receptions (34) and second-highest PFF receiving grade (86.6) in the red zone among all positions since 2018.
White’s overall targets are going to decrease with the likelihood of fewer passing attempts with Newton under center. This will lead to White’s production being volatile week to week, but that doesn't hurt him in best ball formats.
To really capitalize on the New England offense, add Sony Michel to the mix, essentially ensuring every RB touchdown. Since 2018, Michel ranks fifth in carries inside the 5-yard line and inside the red zone.
|Most RB carries inside the 5-yard line since 2018|
|Todd Gurley II||30|
|Mark Ingram II||27|
There's a prevailing narrative suggesting that Newton will take away opportunities from Michel as the team nears the goal line. But keep in mind that Tom Brady saw plenty of rushing attempts inside the 5-yard line – he has the fifth-most attempts among quarterbacks since 2018.
Outside the running backs, there's buzz about N’Keal Harry stepping up based on Newton's past success with receivers who didn't win with separation (Devin Funchess and Kelvin Benjamin). It’s true that Newton succeeded with those receivers, but he didn't throw into tight coverage much more than Brady. Over the past three seasons, Newton’s percentage of tight throws (22%) just edges out Brady (19%). From a volume standpoint in 2017 and 2018, Brady threw 188 more passes into tight windows.
Regardless, Harry is still the best receiver to target for stacking based on price, and the overall decrease in passing attempts is going to negatively impact target-hog Julian Edelman the most.
Matthew Stafford – Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions
Stafford is being drafted as the QB13, which is an absolute steal if he can put up similar production to his numbers in 2019. Through the first eight games last season, Stafford posted five top-seven fantasy quarterback performances, which greatly benefitted No. 1 wide receiver Kenny Golladay. Golladay finished as a top-10 receiver four times over that span but also fell off after Stafford’s injury, finishing as a top-10 receiver just once.
Getting Stafford back under center has been factored into Golladay’s ADP as WR8, but most other Detroit skill players are going at a discount. Tight end T.J. Hockenson is being drafted as the TE16; Marvin Jones Jr. is the WR38; and running back Kerryon Johnson is RB34.
The upside of the Lions’ auxiliary pieces is being undervalued considering they produced spike weeks with Stafford last season. Hockenson had a week as the TE2 overall; Jones finished with two top-three weeks at wide receiver; and even Johnson had a top-10 week at running back.
Johnson stands out as the better option at running back over D’Andre Swift because of touchdown potential. Swift is going to see the role as the pass-catching back, which will give him a nice weekly floor, but his ceiling could be limited if Johnson’s role near the goal line continues from last season. In just eight games last year, Johnson had 10 carries inside the 5-yard line — Ty Johnson finished second with just one attempt. With a Johnson and Stafford combination, you can own virtually every touchdown for Detroit.
Stafford clearly can lift the Lions to be an above-average offense, making it a sharp play to incorporate Lions stacks at their current cost in the double-digit rounds.