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NFL DFS Strategy: Stacking On DraftKings
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If you are paying for a premium Daily Fantasy football service then you are no doubt familiar with the concept of stacking, or pairing your QB with a pass catcher on the same lineup. The goal behind stacking isn’t necessarily to increase your upside, though sometimes it does, but rather to increase the probability that when you hit on one position you also hit on another positon. There are a lot of different ways you can approach a stack (Quarterback (QB)-Wide Receiver (WR), QB-Tight End (TE), QB-WR-Running Back (RB), etc), and in this article we will explore how your approach to stacking should vary based on the price point of the QB anchoring your stack.

     RELATED: Should you Pay Up at WR or RB on FanDuel?

Using the DailyRoto premium tools I gathered QB performance for the last year comparing it to salary to give us a reference point of what QBs we may want to target. For the purposes of this analysis I compared the likelihood of each price band reaching “3x salary” floor, “4x salary” as well as “3x salary + 6 points” as our benchmarks for compiling competitive GPP squads.

This sample is filtered to focus only on QBs who started in a given week, thus part of our decision making process, which would leave 512 players, however with Josh Freeman’s Week 17 start and no DraftKings eligibility we are left with 511 players. All pricing and scoring is reflective of salaries and Fantasy performance on DraftKings.

Positional Baselines

Stack1 Stack2

First thing to anchor on quickly is a positional baseline for how frequently each position hit these thresholds. I provided the numbers above both in terms of raw production as well as if you were cherry picking matchups vs. a Bottom 10 defense vs. that position. Matchups seemed to matter most for the QB group, while RBs may have a slightly higher floor but would warrant a deeper dive based on their role.

QB Performance Based on Price Bands

Stack3 Stack4

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Our next step is to isolate which QB price bands were the most effective to target on DraftKings last year in GPPs. Paying down at QB proved to be equally effective at achieving a 3x+6 multiper and the most effective way of maximizing your odds of returning both 3x or 4x salary. The quick takeaway here is that if pricing is done similarly we should generally not pay a premium for QB, with the $6000 range giving us the best odds of success, particularly when granted a favorable matchup. That said there was also some upside seen from the elite talent as demonstrated by the $8k grouping returning 4x value 13% of the time – obviously 4x on an $8k price tag is a nice start to your week.

Keep in mind this is based on pricing last year, so sharp players should pay attention to how pricing changes this year, since compressing 5k prices up for example could suck some of the value out of that approach.

BOOM, now our QB has hitten value, congrats, we’re off to a great start! Since we have maximized our odds for succeeding at QB our next step is to select our complementary pieces – so I approached this with the mentality of “Given a QB in a certain price band has achieved 4x salary, what is the likelihood of multiple pass catchers doing the same, and how should we approach our stack with them?”

To do this we will look at the 126 QBs who hit 4x value, and identify the probability that we hit on different numbers of pass catchers (both Wide Receivers and Tight Ends) when a QB has hit value.


There were a few takeaways to me:

  1. Nearly 90% of the time our QB hits value at least 1 pass catcher will, thus why stacking is a popular and effective strategy. There were three scenarios where we saw a QB hit value without his pass catchers – 1) Min priced value QBs, 2) RBs catching TD passes, and 3) QBs rushing for TDs. If we were living in a world where 100% of people stacked, you could possibly gain some leverage by not stacking with a QB like Cam Newton or others who accrue fantasy points on the ground.
  1. Almost 43% of the time our QB hits value 2+ pass catchers hit value – and as we get more expensive the ratio climbs even higher –$7k and above QBs were just as likely to have 2+ pass catchers hit value as they were to be limited to 1. As we pay more for QBs we should be willing to increase the number of players included in the stack.

     RELATED: The Importance of Pace

Some of this is intuitive – as QB prices climb, the amount of fantasy points required to hit 4x goes up with it, meaning there are more passes and yards and touch downs to be distributed to pass catchers. While our first section showed we are less likely to succeed by selecting $7k QBs, if we do want to go down that route we should absolutely be looking to pair them with more than 1 player. To spell this out with a real life example, if you are tempted to pay $8,100 for Drew Brees in Week 1 you are looking at needing 32.4 DraftKings points – 15 which we can get by throwing for 300, but still leaving 4 requisite touchdowns to go with it. If Brees is going to throw for 4 touchdowns, you can bet there will be at least 2-3 players who are catching them.

The other piece I want to touch on is that first section – 43% of the time our QB hits value, 2+ pass catchers hit value. To break down the relevance we need to compare it to the odds of hitting on our QB-WR stack paired with another WR from a different team. To start we will give ourselves the benefit of the doubt that in the 89% of time a QB stack hits we are effective in selecting a pass catcher that hit (our true odds of selecting the right one is likely closer to 50%), we will still need to select another WR – something our original positional baseline says that we have a 19% chance of doing.

Odds of Hitting 2-Pass Catchers with 1 Non Correlated WR (Assumes QB Hit)

100% Chance of QB x 89% Chance of Correlated WR x 19% Chance of Non Correlated WR = 16.9%

So given the fact that our QB has hit value, we have a 16.9% chance of hitting two wide receivers if one of them is from the same team and one an uncorrelated player, compared to a 43% chance of hitting on 2 pass catchers who meet value if you run a QB + 2 man stack. You are twice as likely to have each player hit 4x value by running 3-man stacks as you are running 2-man stacks and selecting 1 uncorrelated wide receiver.

As covered in other industry articles there are still ways to find correlation by stacking with an opposing wide receiver 1, but these two approaches are not mutually exclusive, and the probabilities outline above lend credence to starting your lineups with QB + 2 pass catchers + opp WR1 for a strongly correlated passing attack. With anything NFL oriented we are unfortunately dealing with a small sample size, and should take research like this as guidance rather than gospel, but from this seat I’m going to be deploying more 3-man stacks than I have in the past. This is a high upside play, and perhaps lower owned than you might expect, which I’ll cover in detail in a future article.

     RELATED: The Impact of CB Matchups on WR Fantasy Scoring


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