Stacking a quarterback with his stud wide receiver can be a terrific strategy when approaching lineup construction. This synergy allows you to get double the points from two players on the same team having a big game. Here are my Top 10 QB/WR stacks to consider for Week 1:
10. Jameis Winston and Mike Evans
Winston ($6,600) and Evans ($7,400) are primed for a big season. They come in at No. 10 on the list for Week 1 because based on last year’s stats the Falcons are a tough matchup. Atlanta allowed the sixth fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks and the second fewest points to receivers in 2015.
While those defensive numbers are impressive, Winston and Evans both had some success against the Falcons last year. Winston scored 19.5 fantasy points in both games against the Falcons. He only threw for 404 yards and two scores in the two games but added a rushing touchdown each time to boost his fantasy numbers. Evans had more of an uneven performance posting 7.8 fantasy points in the first meeting and coming back with a 17.1 outing. He was targeted 16 times in the two games and scored one of his disappointing three touchdowns on the season against the Falcons.
New head coach Dirk Koetter is expected to run more no huddle offense this season. It’s Winston’s second year in Koetter’s system so he should be able to run more plays per game. This stack is a reasonable $14,000 combined salary and I’m not expecting them to be highly owned. They’re worth a look in Week 1 despite the projected tough matchup.
9. Andy Dalton and A.J. Green
The Jets’ defense was tough on quarterbacks in 2015; allowing an average of just 16.4 fantasy points per game. They were surprisingly average against receivers. New York allowed the 15th most fantasy points to receivers last year, despite having Revis. There have been reports to suggest Revis might not cover Green (and that Revis, at 31, is starting to break down), but if he does, will Green be able to get his targets? Logic says yes because Cincinnati lost Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu this offseason. The Bengals will also be without stud tight end Tyler Eifert for this game while he recovers from ankle surgery.
This isn’t a premier matchup for the Bengals tandem, but one thing to note is Dalton ($6,800) threw for over 300 yards against both Seattle and Arizona last year. He can put up big numbers when taking on strong pass defenses. This stack isn’t overly expensive because of Dalton’s low salary. Still, the matchup will likely prevent Dalton and possibly Green, from being highly owned. They’re a contrarian option for me in Week 1.
8. Dak Prescott and Dez Bryant
This stack is the great unknown. Prescott ($5,000) had an incredible preseason, but as we all know…it’s the preseason. Dak does have a lot working in his favor. Prescott plays with the NFL’s best offensive line, a stud rookie running back in Ezekiel Elliot and an elite wide receiver in Dez Bryant.
It’s difficult to look at last year when evaluating the Giants because they re-tooled a defense that ranked dead last in the NFL against the pass. New York allowed 299 yards a game through the air last season. The Giants brought in DE Olivier Vernon, DT Damon Harrison, CB Janoris Jenkins and drafted CB Eli Apple and S Darian Thompson to fix the defense.
Prescott’s $5,000 salary gives this stack a lot of value, but it’s the great unknown.
7. Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr.
No defense did a better job defending Beckham ($9,300) last season than Dallas. Actually, if you go back two years, Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli has found a way to control OBJ in three of four games. In two games versus the Cowboys last season, Beckham caught nine passes for 79 yards and zero touchdowns on 14 targets. He didn’t reach 10 fantasy points in either game.
In 2014, Beckham had a game where he caught four passes for 34 yards. Two of those receptions did go for touchdowns to save his fantasy day, but he only saw six targets in the game. Beckham only had one big game against Marinelli’s defense in two years. He’s been targeted just six times in two of the four games.
Manning ($7,500) also struggled against Dallas last year. He scored eight and six fantasy points in two matchups versus the Cowboys. Manning didn’t throw a touchdown pass in either game.
So, you may be asking why Eli and OBJ are even on the list. Well, despite Marinelli’s recent success, Manning has had big games against Dallas in the past. Just two years ago Manning threw for 568 yards, six touchdowns and one interception in two games. The Cowboys defense is decimated with injuries and suspensions to start the year. Marinelli was able to shut down Manning and Beckham last year, but he’ll have a tough task to do it on Sunday given the lack of talent he has to work with on defense.
6. Tyrod Taylor and Sammy Watkins
If Watkins ($6,900) starts 2016 the way he finished last year, this stack is ranked too low. Watkins ended last season on fire. In his final six games, Watkins scored 36.8, 22.9, 19.2, 31.1, 13.4 and 27.6 fantasy points. He was targeted 56 times in those games. Once he was healthy and the Bills made it a priority to get Watkins the football, he was basically unstoppable.
The Ravens were bad against the pass last year. Some of it had to do with injuries but some if it had to do with personnel too. Baltimore’s defense allowed the 13th most fantasy points to quarterbacks and the fifth most to receivers. The Ravens gave up 13.2 receptions, 165.4 yards and 1.6 touchdowns per game last year to opposing receivers on 21.2 targets.
Taylor ($6,900) really emerged last year. The rushing numbers were there but Taylor turned out to be a much better passer than many anticipated. He scored 18 or more points eight times in 14 games last season.
Watkins had offseason foot surgery, but he’s now fully recovered. The Taylor/Watkins stack has a high ceiling at a low combined salary of just $13,800. Throw in the favorable matchup, and this stack is a tempting option for Week 1.
5. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones
If Ryan ($7,100) wasn’t so up and down, this stack would top the list most weeks thanks to Julio Jones.
Ryan was solid but inconsistent in 2015. He scored 18+ points 10 times. He scored 14 or fewer points seven times. It was either hit or miss with Ryan. That theme was true in his two games against the Buccaneers as well. In the first meeting, Ryan put up 25 fantasy points. In the second meeting he scored just 14. There’s little concern about Jones ($9,400). The only time he doesn’t produce is if Ryan struggles. Jones topped 20 fantasy points 10 times last year and scored 30+ points six times.
Last year Tampa Bay allowed the 11th most fantasy points to quarterbacks and the sixth most to receivers. The Buccaneers defense is expected to be improved. They signed free agents DE Robert Ayers, CB Brent Grimes and drafted CB Vernon Hargreaves and DE Noah Spence. We’ll see how quickly that translates to the field. It’s a new year, but on paper, it’s a favorable matchup for the Falcons.
4. Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson
Nelson ($7,700) is back after missing all of 2015 with a torn ACL. He’s not expected to be on a snap count in Week 1, so Nelson should still be productive in what projects to be a high-scoring game against Jacksonville. No one missed Nelson’s big play presence in Green Bay’s offense more last year than Rodgers ($8,500). He scored 20+ fantasy points just six times last season.
It’s not surprising Jacksonville shelled out a lot of money and used high draft picks to fix a defense that gave up 268 passing yards per game last season. The Jaguars allowed opposing quarterbacks to score an average of 20.15 fantasy points last season. The Jaguars defense will be better, but it’s a lot to ask for that improvement to come Week 1 against the Packers offense. Look for Rodgers and Nelson to start off 2016 with a bang.
3. Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin
No stack was hotter over the second half of 2015 than Wilson ($7,900) and Baldwin ($6,600).
Wilson scored 20+ fantasy points in eight of his final nine games. He topped 30 points four times during that span. After scoring just two touchdowns in his first eight games, Baldwin dominated over the second half of the season. He scored 12 times in his last eight games. Baldwin was targeted 63 times in Seattle’s last eight games after being targeted just 41 times in the first eight games. Even with the way he closed last season, Baldwin’s salary ties him as the 20th most expensive receiver on DK. That makes him one of the top value plays in Week 1.
The Dolphins were average last year against the pass, and come in with question marks on defense. Miami allowed the 16th most fantasy points to quarterbacks and the 14th most points to receivers in 2015. They lose CB Brent Grimes but added CB Byron Maxwell.
This stack comes in at a combined salary of $13,500 thanks to Baldwin still being undervalued. The affordability of this stack will allow us to spend up at other positions.
2. David Carr and Amari Cooper
New Orleans defense was a DFS player’s best friend last year. The Saints allowed the most fantasy points to quarterbacks and the seventh most points to receivers. New Orleans gave up 297.2 yards and an NFL-worst 2.8 touchdowns per game to opposing quarterbacks. The 297.2 yards ranked second worst in the league only to the Giants.
Carr ($7,300) is $1,200 cheaper than the most expensive quarterback on the board (Rodgers). He topped 20 points seven times last year. Cooper’s ($7,200) salary ranks 16th among receivers. He was targeted eight times or more 11 times last season. Expect Cooper to be targeted even more heavily now that he’s healthy. Cooper played much of 2015 with a foot injury. Carr and Copper have an elite matchup and at a combined salary of $14,500, their price is appealing. The only negative here is this stack will likely have a high ownership percentage because of their Week 1 opponent.
1. Blake Bortles and Allen Robinson
Bortles ($7,200) and Robinson ($8,300) take the top spot despite not having an easy matchup in Week 1. Green Bay’s defense allowed an average of just 16.4 points to opposing quarterbacks last year and 20.6 points to receivers last season.
Robinson hit the 20-point mark seven times in 2015. Bortles topped 20 fantasy points nine times, including in five of his final six games. Even with Allen Hurns producing on the other side, Robinson still dominates targets. Robinson saw at least nine targets in 12 of 16 games last year. Robinson was also virtually unstoppable in the red zone last year. He caught 15 of 22 targets and led the NFL with 12 red zone touchdowns.
Last season Bortles recorded at least 30 pass attempts in every game but one. In that game he had 29. Look for him to put it in the air 30+ times again versus Green Bay and for Robinson to see double-digit targets. I think this stack will be well worth their $15,500 Week 1 combined salary.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is ThePigskinGuy) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.