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NFL DFS Stacking Strategy

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NFL DFS Stacking Strategy
DREWBY
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NFL DFS Stacking Strategy

I have written a lot about NFL DFS stacking strategy over the years. Some of this information was ahead of its time, and some of it behind its time, but it was my time and I have poured over plenty of data.

In 2016 I explored QB Stacking based on price bands and the odds of hitting on your QB plus his favorite weapons. This article uncovered a few key themes:

  • As QB Price increases, we should increase the number of weapons we stack with our QB
  • You are 2x as likely to hit 4x value by running 3-man stacks as you are running 2-man stacks plus a non-correlated wide receiver
  • I recommended stacking quarterbacks with two pass catchers and an opposing wide receiver one

In 2017 I expanded upon this by exploring player level stacking and correlation, leading us to findings such as the correlation between Philip Rivers and his WR1 and Adam Thielen as the highest correlated Minnesota Wide Receiver. These tactics lead to plenty of returns for the DailyRoto team last season. And there were misses too, such as the Alex Smith has no upside quote.

In 2018 I wanted to take a fresh look at stacking as it relates to game stacking to build on the articles from the previous years. A lot of my work over the prior years built around themes and implied that game stacking was a valuable thing, but I hadn’t fully explored the topic. I had a few questions I wanted to answer, namely, how often do game stacks pay off and in what context?

For all analysis, I’ll be referring to a player scoring 16.5+ points on Fanduel or 20+ points on DraftKings. While some of these may not be adequate for players of different salary levels to return “value” it is a simple measuring stick that lets us understand a GPP quality performance (price agnostic) and 20+ point performances from your whole team will be putting you in position to win tournaments.

What percent of games does a “game stack” pay off?

It wasn’t just a game stack, I needed to figure out how to define that and whether or not there were different ranges of outcomes, for surely a 4-man game stack would be more valuable to have go off than a 3-man one. Diving into that I found that 14.7% of games, or just over 2 games per week, have 4+ players hitting the ceiling threshold, and just over a one-third of games have 3 or more players doing the same thing.

# of Players Hitting GPP Thresholds Percent of Games
0 or more 100.0%
1 or more 83.8%
2 or more 57.5%
3 or more 36.8%
4 or more 14.7%
5 or more 4.1%
6 or more 1.9%
7 or more 0.4%

This helps set some general guidelines that when we’re looking for game stacks we probably don’t want to stray too far beyond four players. Our optimizer allows you to easily configure minimum and maximums for each team to help set paramaters for your GPP lineups.

Does that vary by position?

The next thing was to understand how that may vary by position. If we are going to expand into 3 or 4 player stacks from the same games are there any positional takeaways?

# of Players Above Threshold QB RB WR TE FLEX Percent of Games
0 or more 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
1 or more 49.6% 46.6% 50.0% 13.5% 79.7% 83.8%
2 or more 11.7% 9.0% 15.4% 0.4% 40.6% 57.5%
3 or more 0.0% 0.8% 1.9% 0.0% 15.0% 36.8%
4 or more 0.0% 0.0% 0.4% 0.0% 2.3% 14.7%
5 or more 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.4% 4.1%
6 or more 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 1.9%
7 or more 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.4%

The first was that the dual tight end upside game is very rare, and even with game stacks playing both tight ends isn’t often a fruitful strategy. The second learning was that wide receivers were more likely to have multiple high-end performances in the same game than running backs. This makes some intuitive sense because if a running back is having an explosive game it is often when a team is ahead and running out the clock. The third takeaway was again that keeping a game stacking around a QB + a three FLEX player threshold makes the most sense and aligns with my takeaways from 2016.

Looking at all games though can be dangerous as we are not exactly rushing out to game stack the Buffalo Bills at NY Jets. If 15 percent of all games are producing 4 or more GPP options, then surely the highest total games are hitting at a different success rate.

Intuitive, but accurate.

Percentage of Games with 47+ Point Totals Where Players Hit GPP Thresholds

# of Players Above Threshold QB RB WR TE FLEX Percent of Games
0 or more 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
1 or more 54.7% 54.7% 51.6% 20.3% 87.5% 89.1%
2 or more 12.5% 14.1% 20.3% 0.0% 53.1% 71.9%
3 or more 0.0% 1.6% 3.1% 0.0% 21.9% 48.4%
4 or more 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 3.1% 15.6%
5 or more 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 4.7%
6 or more 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 3.1%
7 or more 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%

Games with totals of 47+ points were allowing 3+ players to hit GPP thresholds 48.4 percent of the time compared to games with lower totals. Games with totals of 50+? At least three players more than 55 percent of the time and 22 percent of them were shooting out for 4+ players per game. Targeting game stacks in the highest total games each week is an obvious strategy but understanding just how frequently they do shoot out lets us better gauge that combined with ownership dynamics to make our roster decisions. High total games often carry high ownership, but that ownership can still become congested on just a couple key skill players.

Team Specific Stacking Elements

Last year I wrote about team stacking. Finding quarterbacks that hit their ceiling is great, but it can be quite frustrating when your preferred wide receiver doesn’t deliver. What I wanted to understand for this was what players and stacks are most predictable when the Quarterback does have a good game. The table below outlines the number of explosive QB games for each team and the percentage of those games in which a given skill player also hit their ceiling.

# of Games Above 20+ Fantasy Points Given QB Hit 20+
Team QB WR1 WR2 WR3 TE1 TE2 RB1 RB2
PHI 12 25% 17% 0% 8% 8% 0% 0%
SEA 10 40% 10% 10% 10% 0% 0% 0%
NE 8 38% 25% 13% 50% 0% 13% 0%
CAR 8 25% 0% 0% 13% 25% 50% 0%
GB 8 38% 13% 38% 0% 0% 25% 13%
TB 7 14% 0% 14% 0% 14% 0% 0%
WAS 7 0% 29% 0% 0% 14% 0% 14%
LAC 7 86% 29% 0% 0% 0% 29% 0%
DET 7 86% 43% 14% 0% 0% 14% 0%
KC 6 50% 0% 0% 33% 0% 33% 0%
JAX 6 17% 17% 0% 17% 0% 0% 33%
NO 6 50% 33% 0% 0% 0% 33% 33%
HOU 6 50% 0% 33% 0% 0% 33% 0%
DAL 6 0% 17% 0% 0% 0% 33% 17%
MIN 5 60% 40% 0% 20% 0% 0% 0%
SF 5 20% 0% 20% 20% 0% 20% 0%
LAR 5 20% 40% 20% 0% 0% 60% 0%
PIT 4 100% 0% 0% 0% 25% 75% 0%
ARI 4 75% 25% 0% 0% 25% 0% 25%
NYJ 4 50% 50% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%
CLE 4 25% 0% 0% 0% 0% 50% 0%
DEN 4 25% 25% 0% 0% 0% 25% 0%
MIA 3 67% 0% 0% 33% 0% 0% 33%
ATL 3 33% 0% 0% 33% 0% 33% 0%
IND 3 100% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%
NYG 3 67% 0% 33% 0% 0% 0% 0%
TEN 3 33% 0% 33% 0% 0% 33% 0%
BUF 3 0% 33% 0% 0% 0% 67% 0%
CIN 2 0% 0% 50% 100% 0% 0% 0%
OAK 2 50% 50% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%
CHI 1 100% 0% 0% 0% 0% 100% 0%
BAL 1 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%

There are plenty of interesting takeaways from this chart:

  • While Carson Wentz had a dynamic year that results in plenty of upside for the Eagles passing attack, the Eagles ended up being a frustrating team for daily fantasy tournaments. Just 25 percent of his explosive games were matched with a WR1 ceiling performance and pinning down who to correlate him with was challenging for DFS players.
  • Despite appearing lower on the list, Russell Wilson was a better QB to stack than Wentz with as Doug Baldwin was the clear choice. Yes, Wilson has plenty of upside with his legs too so he could be run out naked but it is also nice to know when a QB has a number one option.
  • DFS players talk a LOT about stacking QBs and WRs or TEs. There is an increasing amount of chatter around game stacks. People still don’t utilize QB+RB stacking often but the Carolina Panthers are an interesting team to watch. One under the radar stack to target is Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey. 50% of Newton’s big games were matched by McCaffrey and he was the #1 option to correlate with Newton during the 2017 season. With an increased workload expected this could be a stack the market is still low on.
  • Pure passing QBs like Matthew Stafford and Philip Rivers hit their ceiling 7 times a piece. 6 of those 7 times they were bringing a WR1 along for the ride. 
  • 100% of Big Ben’s ceiling games involved massive Antonio Brown performances and 75% of them also involved Le’veon Bell. The Killer B’s could be stacked together.
  • Aaron Rodgers, Matt Stafford, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, Big Ben and Tom Brady were some of the best QBs to stack with multiple passing weapons last year. This aligns with our desire to pair high priced throwing QBs with multiple passing weapons.
  • Kirk Cousins, Jameis Winston, and Dak Prescott were among the worst. It will be interesting to see if the Cousins numbers were a player-based thing that will follow him to the Minnesota Vikings or a systemic thing that will follow Alex Smith to the Washington Redskins.

If only there was a way to create all of these RULES for stacking in DFS tournaments. Oh wait, there is. Our NFL Optimizer lets you easily configure stacking settings using positions OR by creating advanced team specific groups. Below I’ve shown how you can create stacks for the Patriots where Tom Brady gets paired up with at least two of Chris Hogan, Rob Gronkowski and Rex Burkhead in every lineup.

Some rules I’ll be thinking of ahead of Week 1 during the 2018 NFL season:

  • Pairing expensive passing QBs with at least two WR/TE/PPR Backs from their team and one from the opponent.
    • Philip Rivers plus two of Allen, Gordon, Williams and an opposing WR
    • Brees plus two of Thomas, Kamara, and whoever wins camp WR2/3 battles and an opposing WR like Mike Evans or Chris Godwin
    • Tom Brady with at least two of Gronkowski, Hogan, Burkhead and White
    • Deshaun Watson with Hopkins and Fuller plus a Patriots skill player
    • Ryan Fitzpatrick with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Michael Thomas or Alvin Kamara
  • Pairing Running QBs or Value QBs more selectively
    • Cam Newton with Christian McCaffrey
    • Russell Wilson with Doug Baldwin
    • Blake Bortles with just one wide receiver

It’s going to be a fun year. Join us at DR.

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We are currently experiencing issues with the optimizer. Please check back periodically; Our engineers are working on a solution.