I’ve started to hit the BestBall10 drafts hard since the NFL Draft concluded, and I’ve honed in on my favorite quarterback-receiver “stacks” for the season. “Stacking” is one of my favorite strategies when I draft my quarterbacks and receivers in the mid-to-late rounds in best-ball formats. It’s been a popular (and winning) strategy in the DFS community for years. If you’re not familiar with stacking, it’s picking multiple players from the same team — or game for DFS — whose fantasy production is correlated.
You don’t need me to tell you that if a quarterback has a huge passing day (or season) then there’s a good chance his receivers also posted strong production. Stacking players from the same passing game does bring in more risk if the passing game fails to produce but the potential upside outweighs the downside for me.
Most best-ball contest payouts are heavily weighted toward the winner so I’m more willing to take on some risk for a chance at a big payoff since there’s no difference in finishing in fourth place or in dead last if my stacks don’t work out.
What to Look for in a Fantasy Quarterback
Before I identify my favorite best-ball stacks for the 2020 season in the second part of this article, I first need to identify which quarterbacks I’ll be drafting at various ADP ranges this summer.
Frankly, last season was one of the easiest years I had drafting quarterbacks because rushing production wasn’t being valued enough. Unsurprisingly, the market has made a huge correction this summer to value running QBs properly after Lamar Jackson’s remarkable 2019 campaign.
This year could be as tough as ever to find great values at the QB position later in drafts because this year’s ADP is pretty tight already. Take a guy like Ryan Tannehill, who finished behind only Lamar Jackson in fantasy points per start last season with 22.0.
Just a few years ago, Tannehill would’ve likely been drafted two-to-three rounds earlier as a low-end QB1. However, the fantasy community, including me, is concerned about his potential lack of passing volume this year, which has driven his ADP down to the QB18 range.
This year’s quarterback ADP might be much tighter than last year, but I still see some upside values on the board. My goal when I narrow down my list of favorite quarterbacks every year is to find the highest upside options at different points in drafts. I also like to narrow down my list of draftable quarterbacks so I’m not spread so thin with my ownership shares.
When I think about upside fantasy quarterbacks, I’m looking for them to check off boxes in four categories if possible…
- Volume (passing/rushing) — I want the ball in my quarterback’s hands and not in his running back’s hands.
- Rushing production — I’m looking for players to supplement their passing totals with some work as a runner.
- Efficiency (passing/rushing) — I want my quarterback to be effective when the ball is in his hands.
- Supporting cast — I’m looking mostly at receiving corps and, to a lesser extent, offensive-line play.
I also consider other factors like coaching and durability to a lesser extent, but I’m mostly focused on these four areas when I’m drafting my quarterbacks. Let’s put this exercise to practice by projecting out the starting quarterbacks for all 32 teams this season.
Projecting 2020 Fantasy Quarterbacks
ADP Data is from the month of May and courtesy of our partners at BestBall10s.
Key: ✓ = 1 point, ⍻ = .5 point, 𐄂 = 0 points
|Lamar Jackson (Bal)||26/QB1||✓||✓||✓||✓||4|
|Patrick Mahomes (KC)||33/QB2||✓||✓||✓||✓||4|
|Kyler Murray (Ari)||70/QB3||✓||✓||⍻||✓||3.5|
|Dak Prescott (Dal)||73/QB4||✓||✓||✓||✓||4|
|Deshaun Watson (Hou)||81/QB5||✓||✓||✓||✓||4|
|Russell Wilson (Sea)||81/QB6||⍻||✓||✓||✓||3.5|
|Josh Allen (Buf)||94/QB7||⍻||✓||⍻||✓||3|
|Matt Ryan (Atl)||104/QB8||✓||𐄂||✓||✓||3|
|Carson Wentz (Phi)||111/QB9||✓||⍻||⍻||✓||3|
|Drew Brees (NO)||114/QB10||⍻||𐄂||✓||✓||2.5|
|Aaron Rodgers (GB)||115/QB11||⍻||⍻||✓||⍻||2.5|
|Tom Brady (TB)||121/QB12||✓||𐄂||⍻||✓||2.5|
|Daniel Jones (NYG)||121/QB13||✓||✓||⍻||✓||3.5|
|Matthew Stafford (Det)||125/QB14||✓||𐄂||✓||✓||3|
|Baker Mayfield (Cle)||129/QB15||𐄂||𐄂||⍻||✓||1.5|
|Jared Goff (LAR)||138/QB16||✓||𐄂||⍻||✓||2.5|
|Ben Roethlisberger (Pit)||140/QB17||✓||𐄂||✓||✓||3|
|Ryan Tannehill (Ten)||143/QB18||𐄂||✓||✓||✓||3|
|Joe Burrow (Cin)||146/QB19||✓||✓||⍻||✓||3.5|
|Kirk Cousins (Min)||154/QB20||𐄂||𐄂||✓||⍻||1.5|
|Jimmy Garoppolo (SF)||158/QB21||𐄂||𐄂||✓||✓||2|
|Drew Lock (Den)||163/QB22||⍻||𐄂||⍻||✓||2|
|Philip Rivers (Ind)||165/QB23||⍻||𐄂||⍻||✓||2|
|Sam Darnold (NYJ)||170/QB24||⍻||𐄂||𐄂||⍻||1|
|Teddy Bridgewater (Car)||172/QB25||✓||⍻||⍻||✓||3|
|Gardner Minshew (Jax)||182/QB26||✓||✓||⍻||⍻||3|
|Derek Carr (Oak)||196/QB27||𐄂||𐄂||✓||⍻||1.5|
|Tua Tagovailoa (Mia)||222/QB28||✓||𐄂||⍻||⍻||2|
|Dwayne Haskins (Was)||228/QB30||𐄂||𐄂||𐄂||𐄂||0|
|Jarrett Stidham (NE)||229/QB32||⍻||𐄂||⍻||⍻||1.5|
|Tyrod Taylor (LAC)||232/QB33||⍻||✓||⍻||✓||3|
|Nick Foles (Chi)||235/QB34||⍻||𐄂||𐄂||⍻||1|
Identifying Which Quarterbacks to Draft
I’m considering drafting the 17 quarterbacks who scored three-plus points in the four categories based on my projections. I’m also disqualifying three more players to narrow my list down to 14 quarterbacks to target in best-ball drafts.
Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes are being drafted inside the first three rounds, which is far too rich for my blood. There are just too many potentially league-winning running backs and wide receivers being drafted in that range to select a quarterback that early. I also disqualified Tyrod Taylor from my list because there’s too good of a chance that Justin Herbert sees significant playing time this season.
Here’s my shortlist of quarterbacks to draft with my favorite QBs in each tier italicized:
Kyler Murray (Ari, 70/QB3)
Dak Prescott (Dal, 73/QB4)
Deshaun Watson (Hou, 81/QB5)
Russell Wilson (Sea, 81/QB6)
Mid-to-Late Round QBs
- Josh Allen (Buf, 94/QB7)
- Matt Ryan (Atl, 104/QB8)
- Carson Wentz (Phi, 112/QB9)
- Daniel Jones (NYG, 121/QB13)
- Matthew Stafford (Det, 125/QB14)
- Ben Roethlisberger (Pit, 140/QB17)
- Ryan Tannehill (Ten, 143/QB18)
- Joe Burrow (Cin, 146/QB19)
- Teddy Bridgewater (Car, 172/QB25)
- Gardner Minshew (Jax, 181/QB26)
A couple of observations from this exercise…
Running quarterbacks are clearly at a premium after last season. The first seven quarterbacks checked the rushing production box for me while only five of the remaining 25 QBs received full points in the rushing category — Daniel Jones, Ryan Tannehill, Joe Burrow, Gardner Minshew, and Tyrod Taylor.
I had four quarterbacks finish with perfect scores. I’d currently rank them Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Deshaun Watson, and Dak Prescott. Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray finished with 3.5 points, and they round out the clear top-six QBs for me this season. Kyler is on my list of QBs to target this year, but I probably won’t have a ton of his shares since he’s typically being drafted ahead of Deshaun, Dak, and Russell.
- If you’re strictly looking for upside, Joe Burrow stands out as the best value at the position right now. I could’ve easily given him a perfect score across the board based on his college performance, but I docked him a half of a point in the efficiency column since I’m expecting him to take some lumps as a rookie. I’d make sure to load up on him in drafts right now because I’m expecting more people to jump on the hype train as the summer goes along.
- I had the toughest time with Jared Goff. He just missed out on making my list because I still think he’s going to be closer to 2019 Goff than 2018 Goff in the efficiency department. However, I’m expecting this entire Rams offense to have a mini bounce-back campaign. Sean McVay spent the off-season in his laboratory figuring out ways to better use his receivers and to cover his O-line issues, and Goff should be slinging it plenty again because of their declining defense. Goff is one player I can see adding to my list of QBs to draft, especially if he starts falling behind Burrow, Tannehill, and Big Ben like I think he will later in the summer.
- I also struggled with Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger. I ultimately left Brady off my list and docked him in the efficiency department because of his declining performance last season and since he’ll be a 43-year-old QB in a new offense this season. I ended up leaving Big Ben on the list because he played well and posted monster numbers the last time we saw an extended look at him in 2018, albeit with Antonio Brown on the field. I am concerned about his play declining coming off his throwing elbow surgery, and I’m also a little worried about the Steelers defense being so good that it limits his volume.
- I’m clearly not a big fan of the similar run-heavy offenses in Cleveland and Minnesota. In terms of upside potential, Baker Mayfield and Kirk Cousins are the two most overrated fantasy QBs based on current ADP. Neither player offers enough rushing potential to offset their lack of passing game volume for me to get involved with them this season.
- Dwayne Haskins was the only quarterback to score a not-so-perfect zero. Ouch! Prove the world and me wrong, Dwayne.
- I’ve never been a big Tyrod Taylor fan, but he’s worth a look as a last-round pick in re-draft leagues if you decide to entirely punt the QB position. The Chargers are heavily leaning toward opening the season with him as the starter, and he’s going to have opportunities to put up production against the Bengals, the Chiefs, and the Panthers in the first three weeks of the season.
Thanks for reading this far and check out the second part of my Best-Ball Stacks article, released Friday June 5th.