Team-Stack Strategy (Fantasy Football)

by Ethan Sauers | @ethansauers | Featured Writer
Jun 12, 2018

A Chargers stack would’ve been very productive last year, but would it have won more matchups than a traditional roster?

Hopefully, everyone brought an umbrella today, because this article is about to make it rain. Why you ask? Because today, we’re talking stacks on stacks on stacks.

Okay, so this may be a little different than what Soulja Boy meant, but concerning fantasy football, there is extreme importance on knowing the pros and cons of stacking players on the same team.

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What are Stacks?

Stacks are a concept that has recently gained popularity due to the rise of daily fantasy football and most frequently is based around a QB and his pass catchers. In nearly all winning GPP contests, you will notice that the winning team has paired a QB with one or many of his targets. The team stack is exactly what it sounds like; it’s taking the stack to its most radical and pairing a QB with his RB, WR, and TE in hopes of gaining points (and multiples) for most yards and touchdowns earned by a team. The idea has many different aspects to examine when considering employing it for a season-long league but determining its use could be a league-winning decision.

A 2017 Team-Stack Case-Study

Gathering players from good offenses is never a bad idea. By stacking QB, RB, WR, and TE (and any combination thereof) the odds of finding TDs in some capacity when they have a good game is increased, thereby increasing the floor of your team. However, in raising the floor on good matchups, you’re also lowering the floor in poor matchups. For example, we will look at one of the most realistic chances for using this strategy in 2017, in a stack of the Los Angeles Chargers. 

Based on ADP (for PPR leagues) in 2017, it was not out of the question to have a chance to draft Melvin Gordon (10.1 overall), Keenan Allen (25.8), Hunter Henry (106.1), and Philip Rivers (108.7) — the top option at QB, RB, WR, and TE for the LA Chargers. These players could easily be locked into a team simply by taking the players at their projected ADP.

For the exercise, we’ll compare their fantasy numbers to their peers around their respective ADP. In fact, we’ll compare each position to the closest player ahead of their ADP, who played in at least as many games as their counterpart (giving the non-stacked team a slight edge in terms of pre-season ADP). For the sake of the exercise, we’ll say that this is LeSean McCoy (7.8 Overall), Doug Baldwin (22.4), Delanie Walker (79.9), and Ben Roethlisberger (101). 

The idea here is to see if we’re drastically limiting our upside, by going after players at their ADP, who happen to be on the same team. Using those guidelines, we’ll then look at the data:

Los Angeles Chargers Stack

POS Player 2017 Total 2017 Per Game Avg
QB Philip Rivers 328.4 20.53
RB Melvin Gordon 298.1 18.63
WR Keenan Allen 313.2 19.58
TE Hunter Henry 126.9 9.06
TOTAL 1066.6 67.80

 
Non-Stack

POS Player 2017 Total 2017 Avg
QB Ben Roethlisberger 304.74 20.32
RB LeSean McCoy 283.6 17.73
WR Doug Baldwin 231.3 14.46
TE Delanie Walker 174.5 10.91
TOTAL 994.14 63.40

 
From the data above, the optimal lineup, given the choice between stacking multiple players from the Chargers, or not stacking players, clearly appears to be stacking. However, when digging deeper, and comparing the two rosters head-to-head for Weeks 1-16, it tells a different story.

Week LAC Stack Non-Stack Winner
1 51.1 61.2 Non-Stack
2 72 54.4 LAC Stack
3 28.5 59.5 Non-Stack
4 52.2 42.9 LAC Stack
5 79 30.7 LAC Stack
6 73.8 17.3 LAC Stack
7 39.1 79.4 Non-Stack
8 44.6 55.2 Non-Stack
9 0 38.4 Non-Stack
10 35.6 53.7 Non-Stack
11 76.7 81.8 Non-Stack
12 93.5 62.7 LAC Stack
13 73.8 60.9 LAC Stack
14 68.2 76.3 Non-Stack
15 52.2 58.1 Non-Stack
16 48.7 56.4 Non-Stack

 
The breakdown here tells a different story. When comparing at a week-to-week level, the non-stacked team wins more often than the Chargers stack, despite the advantage when it comes to overall point totals. This is because the team-stack totals are so correlated that often the Charger stack would usually “go off” on the same week, meaning a fantasy team employing all of them may have a massive total for that week, but in a head-to-head league, margin-of-victory is ultimately useless. On the flip-side, the lower variance and consistency provided by a team that does not utilize the stack helps provide additional wins, meaning ultimately they would have the advantage.

Conclusion

So, is it better to utilize the team stack or instead embrace the variance of players on different teams? Well, it depends on your league and the circumstances in which you play. If you’re in a head-to-head league, a full-team stack is ultimately not the ideal scenario, as the high variance can sink your team from one week to another. 

But in a best ball league, partial and full team stacks should see more consideration with more interest placed on high totals and seeing a benefit from a monster week. As always, fantasy football is a game of choosing your spots and employing team stacks is no different. Consider the circumstances surrounding your league and decide if it’s right for you.


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Ethan Sauers is a correspondent at FantasyPros. For more from Ethan, check out his archive and follow him @ethansauers.

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