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Expert fantasy football advice: Check out various formations of stacking in DFS

Last week in this space, we took a look at the effectiveness of stacking quarterbacks with their top wide receiver. It’s a simple and popular way of stacking to add upside to your tournament teams.

This week let’s take a look at other types of correlated stacks you can employ on your tournament daily fantasy sports (DFS) teams to increase upside.

Three-man stacks

In tournaments on DraftKings, a good goal to set for yourself when making lineups is to use players who have the ability to score four times their salary, divided by 1,000. More simply put, we want our players to score 4x. This means that if a player has a DraftKings salary of $6,000, we want that player to score 24 DraftKings points. While not all of your players are realistically going to hit 4x, wrapping our heads around the requisite upside based on salary helps us to make better lineups and weigh the risk/reward balance appropriately.

According to Colin Drew of DailyRoto, nearly 90 percent of the time a quarterback hits that 4x mark, at least one of his pass catchers will follow suit. Furthermore, almost 43 percent of the time a quarterback produces at a rate of 4x, at least two pass catchers hit or exceed the 4x threshold as well.

Perhaps the most important takeaway from his research is that if you hit on a two-man stack (QB with one pass catcher), you’re nearly twice as likely to receive 4x value out of a second pass catcher in that stack than you are if randomly choosing an uncorrelated pass catcher on another team.

The most important aspect of stacks is correlated upside. Of course the downside is correlated as well, but in DFS tournaments, the top-heavy payout structure leads to higher risk/reward lineups as the optimal strategy. Three-man stacks fit the bill, and as an added bonus, they are generally much less popular than traditional two-man stacks, allowing you to further separate yourself from the field.

Week Six Suggested Three-Man Stack

Ben Roethlisberger-Le’Veon Bell-Sammie Coates (PIT) – After a big week last week (most of the DFS tournament winners had a Pittsburgh stack of some kind), a Steelers stack will be popular. There’s still value to be had here in tournaments however, and you’ll get the most value out of a Pittsburgh stack by cutting out an overpriced Antonio Brown ($10,000 on DraftKings).

Stacking a quarterback with a running back is frowned upon at times because their success isn’t necessarily correlated, but pass catching RBs are an exception. Bell has accumulated 17 targets in two weeks since returning from suspension.

In those two games, Sammie Coates (make sure he’s healthy) has surprisingly led the Steelers in targets. With Coates’ big play upside (has an extremely high average depth of target and his combine scores put him in the 99th percentile of’s SPARQ-x score), he could sustain a dip in target share and still pay off his $4,700 price tag.

Not only is the Steelers offense high powered, it is very concentrated making it easy to stack multiple players. They enter Week Six with the third highest Vegas team total in a matchup against a Dolphins defense that ranks 21st in Football Outsiders’ pass defense DVOA.

Game Stacks

If you’re either two-man or three-man stacking, it makes sense in certain matchups to select a player from an opposing team. If your primary stack hits, we know at least one half of this game is going to be high scoring. This increases the odds of an up-tempo game, which results in more plays run for both teams and thus more opportunities to accumulate fantasy points.

Last year the Giants and Saints got caught up in a shootout, which led to a total of 101 points scored and a combined 91 pass attempts. Both QBs exceeded 40 DraftKings points. Three pass catchers on the Giants scored at least 20 DraftKings points, with a high of 42. A remarkable four pass catchers on the Saints scored 25-plus DraftKings points, with a high of 32.7.

Now, that type of game is a once-a-year outlier, but by having exposure to multiple players in the same game we’re creating upside in the off chance that an unpredictable game flow occurs.

When game stacking, focus on games with high Vegas totals, featuring bad pass defenses, and ideally up tempo offenses.

Week Six Suggested Game Stack

Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints – At 53, this game has the highest Vegas total on the week by a large margin and seems to indicate that Cam Newton will be ready to return. Most DFS players will have some exposure to this game, but you can separate yourself from the field by employing a full game stack, using up to five players (a three-man stack including QB on one side and two pass catchers on the other side).

The Saints rank 28th in defensive efficiency according to Football Outsiders. A year after allowing the most fantasy points to opposing QBs and WRs, the Saints seem to have only gotten worse, as their top cornerback Delvin Breaux is out for the season with an injury.

On the other side, the Saints should be able to keep up their end of the bargain. The disparity between the Panthers’ rank in defensive efficiency against the run (sixth) versus the pass (22nd), should lead to a pass heavier attack from the Saints. That’s friendlier for stacks in various ways: more concentrated volume, likely increases amount of plays run. Additionally, Drew Brees has severe home/road splits (New Orleans is home this week):


Defense/Special Teams and RB

Game script generally refers to whether or not a team is playing from ahead (positive game script) or from behind (negative game script). We like to target RBs in positive game scripts, as their volume increases in such situations. In Week Three, we looked at targeting defenses likely to face opposing quarterbacks throwing out of negative game scripts.

The correlation here is obvious on the surface. If you’re pairing a RB with his D/ST, the game scripts will line up (both good and bad). When the RB is in a positive game script, the opposing QB will be in a negative game script. There’s some additional correlation in here in terms of positive field position (for both the RB and the D/ST) based on the other’s success. For example, if the D/ST records an interception on the opposition’s side of the field, you not only immediately get those fantasy points for your D/ST, but your RB’s probability of scoring a TD has increased simultaneously.

Week Six Suggest D/ST and RB Stack

Buffalo Bills Defense-LeSean McCoy (BUF) – This is the perfect pairing this week. The Bills are 7.5 point home favorites with their highest projected team total on the season (26 points), which should result in a positive game script for the Bills offense and LeSean McCoy (and thus a negative game script for the San Francisco 49ers offense). Additionally, both McCoy and the Bills defense will benefit from Chip Kelly’s up-tempo attack. According to Football Outsiders, the Niners offense runs at the fastest pace in the league, which will result in more plays and more opportunities to rack up fantasy points for all involved in this game.

RB and Opposing Pass Catcher

Similar to the D/ST and RB stack, the main correlation here is that the game scripts are tied to one another. We want RBs in a favorable game script (and likely running in the second half) and our pass catchers in a negative game script (and likely throwing in the second half). This is a good way to finder lower owned upside by partially stacking games that may not have enough macro upside to warrant some of the larger stacks discussed earlier.

Week Six Suggested RB and Opposing Pass Catcher Stack

Jordan Howard (CHI) and Allen Robinson (JAX) – The Bears are 2.5 point home favorites against the Jaguars. While that’s far from a guarantee that the Bears and Howard will find themselves in a positive game script, we’re pretty certain the workload for Howard will be very high if a positive game script does occur. As the team’s starting RB the past two weeks, Howard has accumulated 39 carries, seven targets, and seven red zone opportunities.

Coming back the other way is Allen Robinson, a big play WR who is heavily utilized in the red zone and has target totals of 15, 11, and 10 outside of Week Two when he was shadowed by top cornerback Jason Verrett. The Bears were torn up by a big play, high volume WR in TY Hilton last week, and Allen Robinson could have similar success this week, especially since the Jaguars have historically shown to become very pass happy when playing from behind.

Bonus Bills

While we’ve already covered LeSean McCoy and the Buffalo Bills D/ST as a correlated stack, you can also three-man stack Tyrod Taylor-LeSean McCoy, and Charles Clay.

Price is very important when stacking, so while this suggested Bills stack lacks the raw total upside of the suggested Steelers 3-man stack, keep in mind it is 25 percent less expensive on DraftKings. With full PPR scoring, there’s enough volume (boost from playing San Francisco) to go around and allow all three players to hit 4x. McCoy is involved enough in the passing game to be used in this stack, but Robert Woods is a potential replacement if you prefer using a WR in your three-man stack. Using Woods over McCoy also makes this stack even cheaper, allowing you to complement the stack with several high priced, high upside players in other games.

Michael Leone is a former Buffalo News sports clerk who has won several daily fantasy sports championships. His column appears weekly at [BN] Blitz.

Looking for more NFL DFS advice? You can read Michael Leone and other DFS experts on

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