Lineup Stacking: An Explanation And An Experiment
I promise we’ll get back to looking at the elements that affect a daily projection as I have some news in that regard. But while I am dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s I thought I’d address the common tactic of stacking daily lineups as there’s an element of the procedure that is underappreciated or perhaps even not realized.
For those that are unaware, stacking is the lineup process by which multiple players on the same team are used. Normally, the reason offered for a stack is the lineup avails a bunch of solid matchups, almost always facing a soft starting pitcher.
There’s an extra aspect to a stack that isn’t cited or at least not mentioned as often as it should be. The most effective stack involves players as close as possible in the order. Perhaps this is intuitive but I have yet to happen upon the following explanation.
In any given slate of games, there’s a finite number of events that result in fantasy points:
- hitter reaching base
- a stolen base
- scoring a run
- hitter making an out
Any time you can have two players earn points on the same event you’re increasing the efficiency of the events and gaining an edge. The closer the players are, the better the chance one knocks the other in. They don’t always have to be adjacent especially if you’re using a mini-stack of only two players. But they shouldn’t be more than two, perhaps three spots separated if it’s a true stack. Choosing the leadoff hitter and the sixth hitter, perhaps due to handedness or price, isn’t a mini-stack. It’s taking two players from the same team. Maybe the #6 guy can knock in the #1 guy (or vice versa) but it won’t happen multiple times within the same game which is what you’re trying to accomplish in a stack.
The other benefit is if all you’re doing is scoring a run or getting an RBI from a specific event, almost all of the time someone else in your league has the other player balancing out the impact. The more times you have BOTH players, the greater the edge you can attain.
This brings up another point. As I’m writing this, I’m wondering if every hitter in a DFS lineup should have a friend from the same team in it to increase the chances of doubling down on an event or two. The knee-jerk response is not to force a second player to pair with a hitter with an outstanding matchup “just because”. But thinking it through, a major reason why a player is an attractive option is their run producing potential. And short of a home run, someone will need to knock the player in or he needs a teammate on the base paths to drive home. So in almost instances, there should be a candidate to dance with the first player.
One of the underutilized ploys, especially for inexperienced players, is to study the lineups that win the contests you enter along with those of the historically successful players also in the league. Most sites will list the top winners and almost all of the top winners are grinders that play in a bevy of contests so you can usually find a couple of recognizable players in your league.
What I’m going to do over the next several days is to look at these lineups and observe the number of players utilized that are the only representatives from their MLB team. Let’s say it turns out that other than those batters in an obvious stack there isn’t much worry about two-player tandems. This doesn’t mean my theory is faulty. It simply means it may not be commonplace and if indeed it were deployed, the success rate would be greater than if not deployed.
This is going to take a little effort to plan and there won’t always be scenarios where I can pull it off but I’m going to set up an experiment. The idea is to set up a lineup with everyone having a pal from the same team active. I’ll then replace each player with a similarly priced and ranked player as follows:
- TEST LINEUP: Player A and Player B active
- CONTROL 1: Player A and Player C active
- CONTROL 2: Player D and Player B active
- CONTROL 3: Player C and Player D active
The conditions are
- Players A & B are on the same team
- Players C & D are on different teams (and not on the same one as A & B)
- Players A & C and B & D are similarly priced and similarly projected
If my hypothesis is correct, the TEST LINEUP should score more points than the three controls on a consistent basis.
As they say, there’s only one way to find out!
I learned how stacking by others can hurt you the hard way the other day. I was having a fantastic night (140+ on DraftKings with plenty of action left). It was the "Lonnie" night. I had Lonnie and Carlos Santana. Every time Lonnie hit another bomb, i'd check to see how far i'd moved up, since he wasn't really heavily owned. I noticed I wasn't moving up much at all. Well, most of the guys that had Lonnie ALSO had Kipnis and other players ahead of him, that he was knocking in. I'm very interested to see how this experiment plays out.
Admittedly stacking is more effective if you're playing in a GPP and/or entering multiple lineups per evening as hedging with different stacks increases the chances of getting one to hit in a tourney. I believe it is also more effective in a single bullet entry into a cash game since you'll win more than you'll lose but since the key to a cash game is nailing the pitcher and having enough support with bats to cash, spreading it around can be defensible.
So does losing/not cashing. Done properly, stacking increases your chances of winning/cashing.
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Affectionately known as Lord Zola, Todd was the 2013 Fantasy Sports Writers Association recipient of the Fantasy Baseball Article of the Year, Web. He's been with Mastersball since its inception in 1997 and presently Todd writes for the ESPN Insider and Baseball HQ. Todd is a frequent guest on SiriusXM and is a regular on HQ Radio. He's a veteran of Tout Wars and LABR as well as a multi-time NFBC champion. Follow Todd on Twitter @ToddZola
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So who else has the #DFS shakes -- with that "I feel like there's something I should be doing" feeling?
@SultanofStat you know the answer to that, can't mess with Karma -- I'm more like the Toaster Streudel commercial: Flaky and more doughy