Welcome to Week 14. As we near the end of the regular season for fantasy football, let’s savor and take advantage of the remaining few full slates of daily fantasy football ahead of us. As always, the aim of this article is to utilize advanced stats and metrics to identify stacking opportunities in those lineups. A stack is when fantasy gamers roster the Quarterback and one or more Wide Receivers from the same NFL team. Stacking has become an essential tactic in roster construction and has been shown to increase the upside of rosters through positive correlation of fantasy point scoring.
Week 13 Review
One of the areas of focus last week concerned finding more contrarian QB plays after a couple weeks of chalky recommendations. Obviously, we still want to score fantasy points as that’s the number one goal. As the industry has gotten sharper over the years, finding diamonds in the rough has become an even greater challenge. Given the imperfect science of scoring projections and popularity forecasts, last week went well.
The primary stack asked us to pay up for Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp, both at or towards the top end of their positions’ salaries. They rewarded us with 24 and 30 DraftKings points respectively. As the week went on and salary opened up through popular punt options like Foster Moreau, Josh Reynolds, Gardner Minshew, and Sony Michel, Kupp started making his way into more lineups than he would have on a tighter slate. Still, with Stafford checking in under 8-percent in large field tournaments, the stack went under-played.
The next stack featured Tua Tagovailoa and Jaylen Waddle. Tua played well and was under 5-percent. Waddle was the main beneficiary finishing with nine catches for 90 yards, just shy of the 100 yard bonus. Waddle was 15-percent played.
Finally, Derek Carr caught a ton of steam throughout the week and finished as the second most popular QB play on the slate. Fear around the Washington time of possession narrative didn’t play as strong an effect as expected, possibly due to everyone wanting to jam Moreau and Hunter Renfrow anyway. We got leverage on them through the DeSean Jackson play, but he didn’t do much of anything with only one target on the day. Carr did not play particularly well finishing with 12 points on 11-percent roster share. Jackson only saw 3-percent play.
Week 14 Overview
Any analysis of week 14 starts with the Buccaneers-Bills game. It’s the only game on the slate with a total above 50. It features two of the four pass happiest teams relative to expectation, and it’s mercifully in Tampa where weather won’t be nearly as concerning as upstate New York. This game will be tremendously popular. That doesn’t mean you can’t play it, but just make sure the rest of your lineup is constructed taking into account the heavy roster shares those players will garner. We have the benefit of it being a late game too, so if your early players don’t hit, be prepared to swap to a different game. Having said that, for this piece we’re focusing on other games to stack.
Outside of that fantasy bonanza, we have a few games with 48 point totals. Notably Raiders-Chiefs, Cowboys-Football Team, and 49ers-Bengals. Many games on the slate are outdoors in Northern or Midwest cities, so we also need to pay some attention to the weather forecast. Hopefully there will be nothing as extreme as Monday’s Patriots Bills game.
Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill
First this week we have the premium Chiefs stack with Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill. This play looks to take advantage of the projected popularity of the Bills and Bucs stacks in order to get leverage on the field. At a similar, albeit more expensive, price point, this stack outscoring Josh Allen–Stefon Diggs or Tom Brady–Chris Godwin stacks would give fantasy gamers a large edge on the field.
These two have not been firing on all cylinders recently. We know to ignore small sample traps and zoom out on the larger picture though. They have demonstrated there is no QB WR pair with a higher ceiling in the league. Other fantasy gamers’ resistance to continue paying up with the recent performance will only help drive down popularity.
With the game theory aspect established, let’s look at the metrics underlying this play. The volume is unquestionably there. Mahomes ranks No. 2 among qualified quarterbacks with 478 Attempts which, as always with the Chiefs, attack areas most valuable for fantasy. His 71 Red Zone Attempts rank No. 5, and his 58 Deep Ball Attempts rank No. 4. Efficiency has lagged with only 7.1 (No. 20) Yards per Attempt and 72.7-percent (No. 10) True Completion Percentage.
The inefficiency has been particularly punishing to Hill. All the opportunity metrics are pristine. He ranks No. 2 in Targets (127), No. 2 in Air Yards (1,362), No. 5 in Deep Targets (21), and No. 6 in Red Zone Targets (16), but he leads the league in Unrealized Air Yards. We expect that efficiency to positively revert to the mean for their careers, and in another pass heavy game environment, any efficiency uptick could lead to a huge day for both.
Dak Prescott and Michael Gallup
Next, we have Dak Prescott and Michael Gallup in a spot with a 26-point Implied Team Total. Prescott has performed well this year ranking within the top 10 for Team Pass Plays per Game, Air Yards, Yards per Attempt, and Accuracy Rating. With Gallup off IR for a few of weeks now and Amari Cooper another week removed from his COVID absences, he’s now working with his full arsenal of receiving weapons.
When it comes to stacking the Cowboys, it’s always a challenge picking the WR. Double stacks often make the most sense in GPPs in games where we expect passing volume to be up. Gallup is our favorite this week when considering price and role. Since returning to a full snap share in week 11, he has averaged nine Targets per Game and over 113 Air Yards each week. He’s carved out a valuable role in this offense, yet his price on DraftKings hasn’t caught up. $5.5k for that volume gives significant ceiling projection per dollar.
Justin Herbert and Mike Williams
The final stack this week goes West with Justin Herbert and Mike Williams. The Chargers are 10.5-point favorites over the Giants this week with an Implied Team Total of 27.5. The blowout potential induces Game Script risk, but the Chargers have demonstrated how pass-happy they want to be. They rank No. 3 in Pass Rate over Expected on the season. If they’re going to get out to a lead, it will likely be through the air, and they won’t be taking their foot off the gas at that point.
Updated PROE leaders on the season, since Week 8, and in the red zone: pic.twitter.com/gzZyrB3HoC
— Michael Leone (@2Hats1Mike) December 7, 2021
Keenan Allen scored the touchdowns last week, but Williams quietly hit 100 yards receiving. His targets have been creeping back up to near the highs early in the season when he was a top WR in fantasy. Allen has been a target hog this year, but Williams is no slouch. His 93 (No. 15) Targets represent solid usage that increases near the goal line where his 16 Red Zone Targets rank No. 6. We’ll take the cost and popularity discount on Williams this week on the possibility his role might be bouncing back towards that in the early season.
We are tracking Williams in the COVID protocol as a close contact to Allen who will be out this week. Williams needs to continue testing negative through Saturday to be eligible to play. Assuming he can do that, he should be a popular play. If he can’t, there are a couple options for the Chargers.
Jalen Guyton caught a touchdown last week and has been on the field with a 63-percent (No. 82) Route Participation. However, his 7.7-percent (No. 104) Hog Rate shows that while he’s out there, he is not earning targets. Accordingly, our recommendation is to play Josh Palmer banking on him stepping into a more featured role while Guyton continues as his field stretcher, decoy role. Given his price, Palmer is a double stack option even if Williams is active.