2020 NFL Draft Guide: Leave the Stacking to DFS
Published: Jul 14, 2020
Do you usually target your teams starting QB and a pair of his wide receivers in your drafts? Stop. Fight the urge. Maybe it’s not even your favorite team, maybe you just think Kyler Murray , DeAndre Hopkins , and Larry Fitzgerald will be an explosive combination for you on a weekly basis. Stop. Stacking is a great option in DFS and that’s where it should be utilized. Leave it there.
Stacking works great in DFS, as it’s a daily platform and (in football) you are just hoping for a big week from a certain offense. They may be playing against a team that has a poor defense and a strong offense, giving us every reason to believe that the game will be a shootout that can produce massive results. Being able to pick and choose when and who you decide to stack makes it so much easier for DFS than for seasonal. In seasonal, if those are your best guys, you are more than likely playing them week in, and week out. If your stack in DFS doesn’t work out, you are simply stuck with a disappointing week of DFS, but it has no impact going into next week when you play DFS again, because it’s a completely new game/week. The upside of stacking outweighs the risk of it not producing.
In seasonal fantasy a single down week can ruin your entire season. If you stack your team, sure it will work when they go off for 45 points, but what happens on the week’s where they get shutdown and held to 16 points? More than likely, you lose, because in this scenario, not only is one of your players likely putting up a low score, two or three of them are. That can be incredibly difficult to overcome and even the best offenses have weeks when they aren’t firing on all cylinders. There are no benefits to constructing your fantasy team in a way where it becomes boom-or-bust.
To paint a picture, I will breakdown an example of a stack that didn’t work out. I shared this story last year, but it really just hits this issue with stacking on the head. The year is 2013, my friend is a huge Broncos fan and he stacked his roster with Peyton Manning, Demaryius Thomas , Knowshon Moreno, Montee Ball, and the Broncos D/ST. This is the same year of that super Broncos offense in which Manning led the league with 55 passing touchdowns and was the top scoring fantasy player. Moreno, believe it or not, was the number five scoring running back. Thomas led the league with 14 receiving scoring touchdowns and was the number one scoring wide receiver. The Broncos D/ST finished right around rank 10 at the position. This super Broncos offense led the league in scoring at 37.9 points per game. His Broncos carried him to a 12-1 regular season finish and a first-round bye for playoffs. Pretty damn solid. However, he lost his first playoff match-up (to me - humble brag) in Week 15 of the NFL season, because the Broncos had their lowest scoring output of the entire season when they were defeated 27-20 by the Chargers. Manning had 289 passing yards and two touchdowns with one interception (not the worst of games, but keep in mind that he averaged 342 yards per game and nearly 3 ½ touchdowns), Moreno had eight carries for 19 yards and no touchdowns, Thomas had four receptions for 45 yards and zero touchdowns, and the Broncos defense was torched for 27 points while forcing zero turnovers. The same players that carried him all season long were the same players that got him eliminated from championship contention (I went on to win the title, for those of you dying to know). The Broncos offense was historic that season and his stack still didn’t work out.
Stacking your team also hurts you with bye weeks, as they of course all have the same bye week, making it very difficult to work around, unless you plan to just punt that whole week and load your team up with a roster full of guys with that same bye week (not a fun strategy in my opinion). If you don’t go into it planning to punt that week, you now have to work around multiple players with that bye week and it could be very tricky to keep them all on your roster and still field a full starting lineup. Save yourself from having to deal with that headache.
Is the risk of down weeks while also having to deal with a rough bye week not enough to convince you to avoid stacking? Consider this, what happens when an injury takes place in your stack? This is the biggest argument against stacking, because not only is the injury to that player hard to deal with, but it’s compounded by the fact that your players in the stack likely produce in a lesser fashion. Let’s say you stacked Ben Roethlisberger with JuJu Smith-Schuster and Vance McDonald last year. Big Ben went down with his elbow injury in Week 2, so there goes your quarterback. On top of that, JuJu and McDonald stunk up the joint and were nowhere near what you expected when you drafted them. In large part because Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges were awful and couldn’t come anywhere close to the level of play that Big Ben brings to the table. Maybe you stacked Julio Jones and Matt Ryan in 2013, after Jones had 79 receptions for 1198 yards and a career high 10 touchdowns and Ryan produced new career highs (at the time) of 4719 passing yards and 32 touchdowns in 2012. Jones went onto play only five games in 2013 due to a foot injury and Ryan suffered through a rough season in which he had 200 less yards, six less touchdowns, and three more interceptions than he had in 2012. There are countless examples of these types of scenarios and while having just two guys from the same team isn’t necessarily stacking, it does show you just how much of an impact an injury can have on even a mini-stack, let alone a stack with three-to-four guys from the same team.
One last thing to consider, for this season in particular, is COVID-19. Skill position players tend to spend time together and if one of them comes down with the sickness, there’s a possibility that the others do as well. It could cost multiple players on your roster a week or two of action. That may sound a bit ridiculous, but it is a realistic possibility. Stacking is already a poor decision during a normal year, adding in the risk of COVID-19 (even if you consider it a small added risk) just makes it even worse.
Too many things can go wrong with stacking in seasonal fantasy leagues and not enough things can go right. Diversify your roster and leave the stacking for DFS.