An essential Best Ball Fantasy Football strategy center around finding under the radar stacks. Which stacks should fantasy gamers have on their radar in 2023?
Four Under the Radar Stacks
Stacking has become increasingly popular in fantasy football. It’s easy to see why. Just take a look at Pat Kerrane’s impressive $2 million victory in BBM3. He built his winning team around strategic stacks. Kerrane utilized a Tom Brady–Chris Godwin stack, a Tua Tagovailoa–Jaylen Waddle–Mike Gesicki–Raheem Mostert stack, and a Daniel Jones–Wan’Dale Robinson–Saquon Barkley stack.
Another notable example is @KingKappital’s team, which claimed the $1 million prize in the BBM3 regular season most points contest. He achieved success by stacking the Eagles A.J. Brown–Miles Sanders–Jalen Hurts and Nico Collins–Davis Mills. By combining sharp player selections with team stacks, fantasy managers can tap into higher potential outcomes compared to relying solely on individual players. As you consider your draft strategy, keep these four underrated stacks in mind.
Early Round Stack
Jalen Hurts- DeVonta Smith
Jalen Hurts should be at the top of your priority list, especially considering his third-round average draft position (ADP). Even when not paired with his pass-catchers, Hurts delivered outstanding results, posting top-five fantasy performances (around 25 fantasy points) in over half of his games last season. Even in 2021, he achieved a remarkable rate of over 30-percent of games surpassing the 25-fantasy point threshold. With two consecutive seasons of elite fantasy production, Hurts is undoubtedly a valuable asset on his own.
Why Not Stack?
However, why not consider stacking him with DeVonta Smith? There are two compelling reasons. Firstly, Smith comes at a lower cost compared to teammate Brown. Secondly, Smith showcased a comparable top-five rate in 2022 to Brown (12.4-percent vs. 9.5-percent). Smith finished the regular season on a high note, with an impressive streak of nine consecutive games with at least eight targets. In fact, he out-targeted Brown from Week 10 onward. Not only does Smith possess the potential for top-five weeks, but he also maintains a reliable floor. Smith scored at least 12.5 points (half PPR) in nearly 50-percent of his games. While both players excel individually, the Hurts-Smith stack presents a unique opportunity.
According to data analyzed by Chad Maschke, this particular stack is drafted the least among wide receiver and tight end combinations in the first four rounds of BBM4, at just 13-percent. For comparison, Jalen Hurts is stacked with Brown 30-percent of the time. Hurts is stacked with Dallas Goedert 37-percent of the time. So, consider the distinct advantage of selecting Smith in the second round and Hurts in the third round. Fantasy gamers should capitalize on a rare and undervalued stack.
Trevor Lawrence-Christian Kirk
Trevor Lawrence impressed in 2022 by finishing as the QB4 in terms of the rate of top-five weeks, with an impressive 22.2-percent rate. This placed him ahead of quarterbacks like Joe Burrow, Justin Fields, and even Lamar Jackson. This solidified his position in the mid-pack QB1 conversation. However, Lawrence’s average draft position (ADP) has been gradually decreasing over the past month, making him more affordable and an enticing option for stacking purposes. Notably, Lawrence has been observed dropping more than 12 spots in drafts commonly, particularly in the past week. This is despite the ADPs of both Calvin Ridley and Christian Kirk increasing during the same period.
While Calvin Ridley maintains a higher ADP compared to Christian Kirk, it’s important to acknowledge Kirk’s outstanding performance in 2022. Kirk achieved a top-five wide receiver rate of 6.4-percent in his games, outranking the likes of DeAndre Hopkins, D.J. Moore, Drake London, and Jerry Jeudy. Additionally, Kirk excelled in flex games (12.5 ½ ppr points), ranking as the WR10 in terms of rate (54-percent), surpassing Davante Adams, Keenan Allen, and DeVonta Smith.
While it’s unlikely that Kirk will replicate those exceptional numbers with the return of Pro Bowl wide receiver Calvin Ridley from suspension, the Lawrence-Kirk stack remains unique due to its relatively low occurrence at 22-percent. In fact, only three other wide receivers (DeVonta Smith, DeAndre Hopkins, Mike Evans) are stacked less frequently than Kirk in the first six rounds of drafts.
For reference, Lawrence is stacked with Calvin Ridley 38-percent of the time and with Evan Engram 34-percent of the time. Therefore, it may be worth considering a pivot to Christian Kirk, who is stacked less often and has already proven his capabilities within the Jaguars’ offense. By opting for a Lawrence-Kirk stack, fantasy managers can leverage the potential upside of a promising duo while maintaining a strategic advantage through its relative rarity in drafts.
Late Round Stacks
Mac Jones-Mike Gesicki
Out of Mac Jones‘ 31 games in New England, he has managed to exceed 23 fantasy points only once throughout his career. In comparison, Patrick Mahomes surpasses the 25 fantasy point mark in over 30-percent of his games. Despite this, Jones can be acquired in the 17th round of BBM4, and his ideal under-the-radar stacking partner, Mike Gesicki, is available just one round earlier. This presents an enticing late-round double tap opportunity.
While the case for Jones may not be overwhelmingly strong, it’s worth noting that fantasy managers can have increased optimism with Bill O’Brien taking over as the new offensive coordinator. The true focus here lies on tight end Mike Gesicki. Gesicki, who runs a significant number of routes as a receiver rather than lining up in the traditional tight end position, possesses the profile of a big-bodied receiver. This, coupled with his high average depth of target, results in more significant fantasy scoring plays. In fact, Gesicki’s career top-five rate stands at an impressive 10.3-percent—meaning he has achieved at least 14.2 points in ½ PPR scoring in more than one-tenth of his games. This is a higher rate than that of Evan Engram, David Njoku, Tyler Higbee, and Pat Freiermuth.
As an alternative tight end option, consider Hunter Henry, who boasts a career top-five rate of 5-percent. Surprisingly, Henry is only drafted 25-percent of the time in BBM4, which makes a unique stack with Jones. When considering your draft strategy, keep in mind the potential upside of a late-round stack involving Mike Gesicki and Mac Jones or the pivot option of Hunter Henry. These options offer significant value and should not be overlooked.
Ryan Tannehill-Treylon Burks
The case for Burks as a valuable stack option is a straightforward one: he is undoubtedly the top wide receiver on the Tennessee Titans. Despite facing challenges in 2022, such as an early-season injury and subpar backup quarterback play during Tannehill’s absence, Burks demonstrated flashes of brilliance.
He finished No. 31 in target rate, No. 31 in fantasy points per route run, and No. 32 in yards per route run. It’s worth noting that Burks managed to exceed 12 fantasy points (in ½ PPR) twice in eleven games. Crucially, both of those impressive performances occurred when Burks returned in the second half of the season after recovering from offseason injuries and an in-season turf toe injury. In Week 13 against Philadelphia, Burks’s momentum was hampered by a concussion, limiting him to just a 25-yard touchdown catch.
Examining Tannehill’s 2022 games provides further evidence of the impact Burks had on the quarterback’s fantasy performance:
2022 Games for Tannehill
|With Burks||Without Burks|
Avg. Passing Yds
Avg. Pass TDs
Avg. Fantasy Pts
|Avg QB Weekly Finish||QB17||
It becomes clear that Tannehill’s fantasy scores were notably better when Burks was in the lineup, even accounting for games in which Burks only played partially or left early due to injury.
Additionally, according to Chad Maschke’s analysis, Burks has a low stack rate of just 7-percent, the lowest among wide receivers and tight ends drafted in the first 12 rounds. This low stack rate is likely due to drafters avoiding the Tennessee quarterback situation altogether, as Tannehill and second round rookie Will Levis are only drafted a combined 20-percent of the time in BBM4 so far. However, it’s important to note that Ryan Tannehill boasts a top-five rate of 14-percent over the last three seasons as Tennessee’s starting quarterback—a rate superior to that of Justin Fields, Jared Goff, Daniel Jones, or Matthew Stafford.
Considering the evidence presented, Burks emerges as an intriguing stack option, especially given the scarcity of his stack rate in drafts. By combining him with Tannehill, fantasy managers can leverage the potential upside between the Titans’ top wide receiver and their proven starting quarterback.