What are the things that fantasy football managers need to know as they begin to set their lineups, and how can they gain an advantage going into DFS tournaments?
Let’s dive in and discuss how stacks can give you the edge you need going into 2024.
What Is a Stack in Daily Fantasy Sports?
Stack (verb): Arrange a number of things in a pile, typically a neat one.
In the world of DFS, the idea of stacking is simple, but the execution … less so. On the most basic of levels, “stacking” refers to pairing your quarterback with the player(s) he is throwing the ball to. But DFS is a salary game, so it’s not as simple as plugging in a strong quarterback with his top pass catcher and printing money.
Should you chase a touchdown with a cheap, hardly rostered tight end to pair with your quarterback? What about the WR2, who comes at a discount but offers per-target upside?
In today’s era of versatility, should you roll out a running back with your QB to have a piece of all of the offensive yards and hope they connect on a short touchdown toss? What about multiple pass catchers in a single offense?
You get the idea. There are more than a few ways to do it, and the truth is that there is no consistent right way to do it. Every slate, every offense, every matchup … there is no one steadfast rule that is going to help you solve the DFS puzzle, and that is why we love this game. Chaos.
That said, we can use some data from past seasons to put ourselves in a position to succeed. I did the research for the 2022 season and applied how those findings played out in 2023 to be best positioned to thrive in 2024.
Let’s start with the single stack (one pass catcher with his quarterback) and use 60 combined PPR points as a threshold. In 2022, 23 times did a tandem get there, so we are talking less than 1.5 per week.
Keep Your Mind Open When Looking at the Slate
The fact of the matter is that more offenses are capable of breaking the DFS slate than you are willing to admit, and the same goes for defenses that can allow a big week.
Of those 23 instances, 12 different quarterbacks made that list (no one had more than three), and no defense allowed more than two of these single-stack games (again: 60+ points between a QB and a WR/TE). What type of quarterback should you look to invest in?
To Produce a Big Pass-Catching Week, It Helps To Have Passes Thrown
Of those 23 instances mentioned above, 21 times did the quarterback throw at least three touchdowns. Correlated to that stat is the fact that only five times did the QB surpass 8.5 fantasy points that week with his legs.
And that tracks, right? Rushing production is great, but if we are investing two roster spots in this offense and rushing only benefits one of them, then we are looking at a sub-optimal situation.
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In 2023, 73 times did a quarterback throw 3+ touchdown passes and only five times did that signal-caller run for 40 yards (no QB did it multiple times).
So now that you have a quarterback that you believe can pass the rock at a high level, you lock in his game-breaking receiver and move on. Easy game. Except it’s not.
Consider All Types of Pass-Catching Builds
You’ll notice this part of the math changes for the double stack, but if you’re stacking one player with your quarterback, don’t shy away from the tight end position.
Of these 23 instances, 13 included a receiver and 10 included a tight end. Some of the elite tight ends are used as big-bodied receivers, and that allows them to be a part of these big weeks.
The game theory portion of this is also sound: By filling your TE position as part of a stack, you leave open a WR slot which carries more upside than the TE position does. Let’s say you’ve considered the tight end route and still believe receiver is your path — what type of player should you be looking at?
Size Matters, Speed Less So
Tyreek Hill is an outlier in many respects, and this study is one of them. Every receiver not nicknamed “Cheetah” on this list weighed over 200 pounds. Combine that nugget with the fact that 10 times a tight end was on this list, and we have a nice little trend about these big bodies having success at a high level.
In 2023, we had a breakout star at every level of expectation, and guess what?
- Star to superstar: CeeDee Lamb (6’2″, 200 pounds)
- Captured his upside: Nico Collins (6’4″, 215 pounds)
- Out of nowhere: Puka Nacua (6’2″, 205 pounds)
With us targeting size, it shouldn’t surprise you that Ja’Marr Chase and the aforementioned Hill were the only receivers on this list with plus-speed (in terms of 40-yard dash time). Big plays are great and worth targeting, just be careful assuming that you need a burner to get you there … you often don’t.
Just because it is intuitive doesn’t make it wrong. Every year, I get questions about big-time underdog stacks. “They are going to be trailing for the entire game” is the reasoning I get, and that’s not a crazy thought.
But … if they are trailing in a big way, isn’t it possible that the other side of this game was the right side to stack? Of these 23 strong single-stack occurrences, 19 of them saw their team win the game. You don’t have to get cute.
In 2023, 13 of the 17 (76.5%) 30-fantasy point games from QBs came in a victory.
The pass catcher averaged 8.2 catches per game, and in 18 of 23 instances, he scored multiple times. You need to target offensive/scoring volume, and that upside often sits with the better teams in the league.
Those are some basics when it comes to single-stacking your quarterback. This sort of roster construction has gained steam over the years, and many fantasy football players have opted to double down on their offense of choice (not one but two pass catchers paired with a quarterback).
As you might guess, adding a second pass catcher to your roster changes some of the math. For purposes of this study, we are looking at the 25 instances in which a double stack netted you at least 75 PPR points.
Stop Chasing Perfection and Embrace Versatility
The most common misconception in DFS tournaments is that you need to roster perfect players. Football is unique in that way, and you’d be wise to at least consider some chaos.
In baseball, if your pitcher makes a mistake and gives up a home run, there is no path to that helping you, right? The run(s) hurt, and there are zero positive effects. In football, while an interception technically counts against your point total, it puts the opponent in a good spot and thus has the potential to force your quarterback to be more aggressive moving forward. Aggression, my friends, is gold.
In these 25 elite, high-scoring performances, 12 times did the quarterback throw an interception. To that end, you need an offense that is putting points on the board by any means necessary, and sometimes spotting the opposition field position can help that end goal.
In 2023, the combined interception rate for the top six fantasy QBs (min. 10 games) was greater than the league average.
“No risk it, no biscuit”
In the single stack, you needed all of the production to go to your pass catcher, but with a pair of pass catchers, you need your offense to be moving up and down the field, thus making it more acceptable to have a quarterback with an athletic profile. In the majority of these instances, the QB either ran for 25 yards or scored on the ground.
Upside, Upside, Upside
We are looking at 25 double stacks, and that means 50 pass-catching performances.
Well, in 47 of those 50, the pass catcher either scored or piled up over 120 receiving yards. That’s some serious upside, and targeting the WR position over the TE position proved to be the path of least resistance (18 of those 25 tandems were WR-WR).
You are betting on this offense as a whole, so it doesn’t matter how you get there … one receiver catching a ton of balls with the other scoring or an even distribution — all points count the same.
On average, these tandems averaged 15.3 catches per game — use that as a target, and make sure your pass-catching duo has a path to at least flirt with that number.
This portion of the equation remains consistent from the single stack, and I’m retyping it to drive home the idea. Don’t. Get. Cute. In 20 of these 25 instances, the stacked team won the game.
Go through the slate, pick the team you believe will win, and, statistically speaking at least, you’ve trimmed your realistic player pool in half.
With the fantasy football season behind us, why not start preparing for your rookie drafts with our dynasty rookie rankings? Additionally, as you look to improve your team heading into 2024, our dynasty trade calculator can help you find the perfect deal to boost your championship chances.