Bjorn Yang-Vaernet examines three teams and their respective QBs that can be drafted in the QB Window (Rounds 6 to 13) and have legitimate tournament-winning upside in 2023.
One of the more interesting dynamics in late-July/early-August best ball drafts is the game of chicken that drafters have when selecting elite QBs. After routinely going in Round 2, managers have started to see how far they can push drafting their preferred QB in Round 3. I see this most often with Travis Kelce and Stefon Diggs drafters, who take another high-end skill position player in Round 2 and push Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen, respectively, to Round 3. This frequently works for the Diggs/Allen combo, but most Kelce drafters can’t have their cake and eat it too.
For the drafters that end up missing on the elite QB pairing and those who don’t get an elite QB at all (by Underdog ADP, there are four going by Round 3 and eight by Round 6), the draft is far from lost. While taking a QB later in the draft may not feel as comfortable, there is reason for hope that the QB window could bounce back in 2023. In this article, I explore three teams and their respective QBs that have tournament-winning upside and can be drafted within the QB window.
For more theory and data on best ball stacking when missing out on the elite QBs, be sure to check out my article on the effectiveness of late stacking and back stacking on Underdog.
Kirk Cousins – Minnesota Vikings (ADP: Round 10)
Stack Partners: Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison, T.J. Hockenson
The Minnesota Vikings pass attack is one of my favorite teams to stack this year because their team environment is so ripe for fantasy production. Under first year Head Coach Kevin O’Connell, the Vikings not only passed at the second-highest rate (65%) but played at the fourth-fastest pace. The elevated pass rate can be partially attributed to offensive philosophy — 64% pass rate in neutral situations (third-highest) — but also to a poor defense.
The Minnesota defense ranked poorly in a variety of metrics including:
- No. 3 most points allowed per game (25.4)
- No. 2 most yards allowed per game (391.1)
- No. 2 most passing yards allowed per game (266.9)
The Vikings’ offense had to keep their foot on the gas pedal because it was no guarantee that their defense could hold any lead (or needed to get back in the game). In 2023, the defense doesn’t project to be much better with no defensive players selected in the first 100 picks of the NFL draft, and most of the defensive players signed in free agency on “prove-it” deals.
The Vikings are also one of the best teams to stack because their pass offense is so condensed. The team really only distributes the ball to five players — their top 3 WRs, top TE, and top RB. After T.J. Hockenson joined the team in Week 9, those five players accounted for 93% of the team targets.
Last, as a tiebreaker, it doesn’t hurt that the Vikings play in domes in nine of the 16 games relevant for the fantasy football season, including both Week 16 and 17.
One of the most important things for the QB position is whether this player has the ability to deliver ceiling performances in the playoff weeks. Kirk Cousins produced nine QB1 weeks in 2022, including two weeks with more than 30 fantasy points, where he finished as the weekly QB3 each time. Keep in mind that this was Cousins’ first year in O’Connell’s Shanahan/McVay system, which has had QBs take a leap in the second year — e.g. Matt Ryan (2015 to 2016) and Jared Goff (2017 to 2018).