The topic of stacking has become very popular in the last couple of years. Like many topics in fantasy football, it sometimes gets taken out of context, and people don’t always take the time to understand the nuance of it. Simply put, if we believe a quarterback can achieve a potential ceiling outcome, then it’s very likely that their teammates will be productive too.
If you’re playing in DFS tournaments, particularly large field contests, stacking is essential. To beat almost 1.2 million other people in the opening weekend Milly Maker, your lineup needs to be perfect. That nearly always revolves around a stack, a bring-back, and mini correlations.
Where some players go wrong is in not creating the right stack for the format. If you are playing a small-field contest with only a couple of hundred entrants, a one game ‘onslaught’ stack, in which you target an individual game with players from both teams, can often be the right approach. For a contest more in line with the ‘Milly Maker’, lineups more often benefit from multiple correlations from multiple games.
Successful stacks, more often than not, include a ‘bring back’ from the opposing team of our stack. The simple theory here is that if one team is scoring enough points to make them fantasy-worthy, then the opposition should be trying hard to score points too.
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2023 NFL DFS Stacking Strategy
The simplest and most common method of stacking is to pair your quarterback with a pass-catcher. In simple terms, you’ll now be getting all the points involved in any play between the two players you’ve rostered.
Creating stacks around the likes of Joe Burrow (QB – CIN) and Ja’Marr Chase (WR – CIN) is far more straightforward than some, but you’re not sneaking anything past other players with stacks like that, so we always have to be cognizant of rostership levels when finding our core stack to build our team around. If you’re playing GPP or Cash games, you’ll require different approaches.
Typically, in Cash games, stacks aren’t as necessary since we’re chasing reliable outcomes. In GPPs, we’re looking for ceiling outcomes, which are often linked to stacks. For example, when a QB and WR go off, the results typically correlate.
For large-field tournaments, a single stack of quarterback and pass-catcher isn’t enough. Instead, we often find winning lineups feature a quarterback with two pass-catchers from their teams.
If Geno Smith (QB – SEA) has a 25-point game, there’s a good chance he’s arriving at that total by passing the ball plenty. In Seattle, that likely means two of the three top wide receivers have had good days. By double-stacking, we’re betting on fewer things to go right. As long as that stack lives up to what we’re expecting, our lineup can be well on the way to cashing.
Mini-Stacking & Correlation
The deeper you get into DFS, terms like mini-stacks, bringbacks, and correlation will become more common. “Mini-stacking” typically refers to taking two teammates from a game without including their quarterback.
In Week 4 of the 2022 season, Josh Jacobs (RB – LV) finished as the RB2 with 34.5 PPR points, while Davante Adams (WR – LV) scored 19.5, – good enough to finish as the WR12 that week. Meanwhile, then Raiders’ QB Derek Carr only scored 11.5 points. That figure was buoyed by the fact that he had seven rushes for 40 yards. Quarterbacks who routinely find themselves outside the top 12 in weekly finishes aren’t the types we should be stacking unless we’re confident that week’s matchup will force them to break from the norm
Correlation refers to picking players from the same game but on opposing teams. If Ja’Marr Chase is hitting his ceiling outcomes, then it’s likely that the Bengals are forcing their opponents into a game with a reasonable amount of points. Said opponents will have to up their pass rate in an effort to respond and stay in the game. In that situation, we can bet on an opposing pass-catcher to have a strong day.
Getting Different With Stacks
Like all things in DFS, we come back to player rostership levels frequently. If Ja’Marr Chase is being rostered by 30% of entrants into a contest, we know it’s very unlikely that every single one of those entrants has stacked Chase with Joe Burrow.
Equally, the chances of each entrant having Burrow, Chase, one or two more Bengals, or even a bring-back is much lower than the initial 30% rate. Your stacks and bring-back choices allow you to get different, gaining leverage on the field in the process.