DFS Roundtable: Cash Stacks - Yea or Nay?

How often do you stack teammates in cash games? Do you save it as a GPP strategy, or does the potential overtake the risk in your eyes? And is there a Week 8 stack you love for cash play?

We all know the value of a successful stack. Its positive correlation maximizes the impact of our individual players' strong stat lines, and the right ones thoroughly tilt big DFS contests every week. But that's conventional wisdom for GPP play, where we're chasing upside and seeking to maximize scoring, and not necessarily for cash games. A misfired stack can torpedo a cash lineup that's built with floor and predictability in mind; if a quarterback bombs, for example, it's a fair assumption that his receivers mostly will as well.

How often do you stack a QB/WR in cash play? Do you try to avoid it, saving it as a GPP strategy, or does the potential overtake the risk in your eyes? Or are you indifferent to the risk and willing to simply play your highest-projected plays? And is there a Week 8 stack you're so confident in that you're cramming into cash lineups?

Dan Hindery: I fall into the camp of indifference when it comes to stacking in cash games. If a quarterback and wide receiver on the same team both project as top plays at their positions, I will not avoid playing them in the same cash lineup. Similarly, I won’t go out of my way and place a lower-ranked player in my lineup just to assemble a stack.

I have always felt that there is too much focus on floors and limiting downside in cash game lineups at the cost of ignoring upside. The odds are that one or more players in your cash lineup will fail to meet expectations. When that happens, you need other players to carry your team, and that is why trying to cram as much upside into cash-game lineups as possible is a great strategy. Upside is especially important in today’s DFS environment. A few years ago, if you simply played it smart with a safe lineup you could count on others to make mistakes and finish in the top half most weeks. There are fewer inexperienced DFS players now, and more good information available to the general public, which makes it tougher to just play it as safe as possible and expect to cash.

It is also worth noting that, just because there is some correlation between quarterbacks and wide receivers, there are no guarantees that both will succeed or both will fail in the same week. Two weeks ago, I stacked DeShaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins in cash games. Hopkins struggled with just 8.9 FanDuel points (9.9 on DraftKings), yet Watson had a big game with 24.3.

Jason Wood: I couldn't have said it better than Dan – I don't actively avoid (or target) stacks in cash lineups. I look at each position independently of one another and project value. If it happens that projected value (and salary cap configuration) argue for playing a stack, I'll play the stack. (I would also note that some of my more experienced DFS brethren around here convinced me some time ago to always throw my core cash lineups into a GPP or two. That advice has generated positive ROI, at least in GPPs with a flatter payout curve.)

Since I don't actively stack or not, I had to check my lineup history to get an idea of my percentages. It looks (back of the envelope) like I have QB/WR stacks in my cash lineups about a third of the time. My QB/RB stack rate is much lower, which makes sense in terms of modeling player outcomes, but again is not by design. It's a byproduct of my process, versus an input.

Chris Feery: I also subscribe to the theory of examining each position individually, but I wind up with a stack in my lineup more often than not. If I’m extremely sold on a quarterback, I don’t see a viable reason not to pair him up with one of his favorite targets. There's risk attached when the connection doesn't pan out for the week, but there's also a lot of upside that potentially gets missed if you avoid stacking. It gets a little tricky when we’re talking about a team with multiple viable options – i.e. New England Patriots – but the upside is too great to just leave on the table. Using this week as an example, Andy Dalton is in a great spot against the porous defense of the Indianapolis Colts. It would be pretty hard to talk me out of pairing him up with A.J. Green, who I’m also high on for this week. For GPP purposes, you could pivot to one of his other targets for differentiation, but I'll stick to Green for safety in cash games.

James Brimacombe: Cash games have been harder and harder to hit over the past year and a half, and for me they almost have to be treated as a cash/GPP lineup hybrid. I think the QB/WR stack is still viable when putting together your cash games, as you are going to need your quarterback to produce, and if he can't do it with his star receiver you are probably going to have a lineup in the middle of the pack anyway.

I think this is a good week to build a few cash lineups with some different QB/WR stacks. My favorites for the week are Carson Wentz/Alshon Jeffery, Philip Rivers/Keenan Allen, Matt Ryan/Julio Jones, Andy Dalton/A.J. Green, and Cam Newton/Kelvin Benjamin. I think that limiting yourself to a single stack for cash games can put your team in a world of hurt if it doesn't hit, but building five or so cash game lineups with the above stacks helps to diversify your games. And, as Jason points out, throwing them into some low dollar GPPs as well can really make for a fun DFS Sunday.

Justin Howe: James put it beautifully – cash games aren’t what they used to be. Two or three years ago, hard-cash games (50/50, head-to-head) were indeed won most consistently with stable floors in mostly straight-up 3x/2x fashion. They’re a little more of a free-for-all now – not total anarchy, but noticeably so – and simply gunning for 150/120 points often leaves you sitting in the 40th percentile. Upside is much more important now than it was back then, and besides, QB/WR isn’t a particularly prohibitive stack when we’re looking for floor stability.

We’re all on Dalton/Green, of course, but I’m also interested in two Jameis Winston pairings, thanks to the Buccaneers’ relatively soft pricing. Winston and Mike Evans always make for a solid stack when the matchup is right, and the Panthers cornerbacks are definitely burnable. And Cameron Brate, who’s priced well below his ceiling, plugs in nicely as well.

John Mamula: If it fits my lineup construction, I am fine with a QB/WR stack for cash games. I wouldn't go out of my way to stack in cash, but the upside is often needed.  Here are two scenarios for stacking in cash games this week:

If you are playing Carson Wentz in cash games this week, stacking with a WR is far from a must. Sure, you can stack Wentz with Zach Ertz, but there are more affordable options at the tight end position. Wentz and Tom Brady are two cash-game quarterbacks that can score multiple touchdowns while spreading the ball around. 

If you are playing Andy Dalton in cash games this week, stacking with A.J. Green is a must. Green should see a minimum of 8+ targets with a chance of at least 1 touchdown. In this scenario, stacking Dalton with Green gives your stack upside.