Daily Fantasy Football Training Camp – Stacking – DFS NFL Lineup Construction Methodology

As we approach the 2017 NFL season training camps are in full force. As Daily Fantasy Football players we to need to go through training camp this time of year. Winning in DFS like winning in the NFL requires preparation. Over the next few weeks I’ll be covering as many of the lineup construction methodologies as possible and coming up with rules of thumb which we will continuously discuss throughout the season.

For today’s column, we are looking at correlations. Specifically, this is about understanding the relationships between players on the same team as well as the opposing team. Why bother? I’m glad you asked. When attacking a GPP (guaranteed prize pool) or large scale tournament you generally need to nail all of the positions in order to win. Normally when constructing lineups for daily fantasy football we do our best to predict which teams will go off and which players will do well. The reality is that we can’t always be right.

THE STATS

This column is meant to be a quick hitting reference. There are detailed statistics within the books we give as part of our DFS Army VIP Membership that cover these items in much greater depth.

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STACKING

You never really know what will happen in a live sports event. What I’m saying, in essence, is that we have a number of unknown variables that we are dealing with when selecting a fantasy team. The one item that is absolute however is that in order to win a GPP we need every position in our lineup to produce an outstanding fantasy result. Right now you may be thinking thanks, Captain Obvious, but bear with me here. So the one thing we know for sure is that winning a GPP requires that every player in your lineup put up outstanding fantasy numbers. Using this knowledge we can look for correlations between players on the same, and opposing teams in order to come up with the best possible lineup construction method for GPP entries.

The first and most obvious correlation is the QB and his WR1. Logically it makes sense that these two players are highly correlated. Whenever a WR catches a TD his QB probably threw it to him. The statistics back this up in a major way.

Rule of Thumb #1 – Stack a QB with his WR1 

Rule of Thumb 1A – If you are paying up for a stud WR, that has a non-stud QB throwing to him (think Osweiler to Hopkins) always use the stack. If your stud WR bombs you aren’t winning shit so may as well play the combo.  

Rule of Thumb 1B – Stacking a QB with his TE1 is also a viable stack strategy as long as the TE1 featured in the passing game. 

Addendum – The viability of the QB-WR or QB-TE stack is not just for tournaments or GPP’s. This is a strategy is very much in play for cash games and smaller leagues. 

Let’s look at a less logical pairing. Most people think you should avoid stacking a QB with his RB1.  The statics simply don’t agree. There is actually a positive correlation between a QB1 and his RB1. It’s not as statistically robust as the QB-WR1 pairing, but the correlation is positive. As a bonus, because this stack seems counterintuitive, most people tend to avoid using it which creates for a potential low ownership pairing in GPP lineups.

Rule of Thumb #2 –  Don’t hesitate to stack a QB with his RB1. There is a positive correlation, particularly when that RB1 is a pass catcher (think Ben to Bell). 

Let’s loop back around to my original theorem. In order to win a GPP, you need every spot on your roster to go off for big fantasy numbers. Now lets think about game flows.  In Daily Fantasy Football the panacea is the shootout. Both teams scoring back and forth in the fourth quarter. None of this running out the clock stuff etc. One of my favorite ways to construct a lineup has been to take a QB-WR1 stack and pair that up with their opposing WR1.  The statistics bear this one out as well. We want to get just the right amount of exposure to potential blowout games.

Rule of Thumb #3 – When creating a QB-WR1 stack lineup, consider using the opposing WR1 as well. If the game becomes a shootout your chances of winning a GPP significantly rise.

This next correlation play was a bit of a surprise. Conventional wisdom has always been to pair up a DST with an RB1. The logic said that when a Defense is scoring or stopping the opposing offense, that team’s offense will tend to go conservative and run heavy to protect a lead.  The statistics do show positive correlation between the two positions but not enough to make this a rule of thumb. Instead, statistical analysis tells us that the greater correlation comes from stacking a Defense with a Kicker. This was surprising at first but on further examination, it makes a lot of sense. The criterion for selecting a Kicker is virtually the same as the baseline criterion for selecting a defense. We want a team that is heavily favored at home, facing an opponent with a low total projection.

Rule of Thumb #4 – Consider stacking Defense and Kicker from the same team. There is a positive correlation and the selection criterion for both are the same.

CONCLUSION

These are the basic set of stacks that we want to consider when constructing Daily Fantasy Football lineups.  Start every team lineup with a QB-WR1 or QB-TE1 stack. Don’t worry too much about pairing up a QB with his RB. There is no negative correlation there. In GPP’s, consider getting exposure to the team your QB-WR stack is facing so you can take advantage if it becomes a shootout. Also, whenever possible, stack a Defense with a Kicker. It’s not a must stack situation but the criterion for the selection of both positions are the same.

In my next “Basic Training” column’s I will be covering how to use the Vegas Lines to select players at and coming up stat based rules of thumb for each.

Daily Fantasy Football Training Camp Series

Part One: Stacking – DFS NFL Lineup Construction Methodology

Part Two: Vegas Lines and Player Selection – Advanced DFS Strategy

Part Three: Player Selection Strategy by Contest Type

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