NBA

Daily Fantasy Basketball: An Introduction to Stacking

Stacking, or rostering players from the same teams, is a complex issue in NBA DFS. But here's how you can gain an edge.

If you play just about any other DFS sport, you've probably come across the concept of stacking: pairing teammates from the same team to increase upside.

In football DFS -- whether NFL or NCAA -- you can get a leg up if you pair a quarterback and a receiver. If the combo hooks up for a few touchdowns, you can ride that link up the leaderboard.

If you roll out a few batters in a row in the same baseball lineup, you can benefit from hits, runs, and RBI from players on the same team, which can be contingent on one another.

Similarly, in daily fantasy NHL, you can roster a first or second line and try to combine assists and goals.

Basketball doesn't work that way. Yes, there are assists that lead to baskets, but that's about it. Steals aren't linked. Blocks are individual stats. And rebounds are cannibalized by teammates.

So how can we start to examine this complex issue when statistical production is all that matters?

What Stacking in the NBA Looks Like

Again, unlike the other main sports, NBA stacking doesn't usually come in any obvious forms or relationships.

Also, on FanDuel, you're limited to rostering no more than four players from the same team, so rolling out a full starting five won't hack it.

Honestly, aside from that, your stacks can go a number of ways, especially  considering the positioning format on FanDuel. You would be kind of silly to roster two running backs from the same team in an NFL contest, but that's not always an issue in daily fantasy NBA contests.

Reasons Why Stacking Can Work

We've spent enough time on why stacking might not be a great idea already (we didn't really spend much time on it at all), and I don't want to bore you. That being said, there are reasons to consider playing multiple teammates on the same roster even if those reasons aren't always tangible. By that, I mean the extent to which these following factors will impact a game varies for every single game for every single team. Still, these principles should always be kept in mind.

Close Games and Overtime
Overtime in NFL contests is fun. You get free production. In MLB contests? Not so much. You're at the risk of losing points for outs if the game goes to extra innings, and your pitcher isn't going to be notching a win if the game runs 14 innings.

But given that turnovers are the only stat resulting in negative points in  FanDuel's NBA scoring format, you've got little to fear from the extra burn. If you roster multiple players from the same squad, you can get a serious edge on your competition if they all see extended minutes. That's a small reason why understanding Vegas odds is critical for NBA DFS.

But even if the game doesn't go past 48 minutes, your players can see extra minutes in tight games, especially if you know the lineups coaches use down the stretch.

Depleted Rosters
Throughout the NBA season, teams get dinged up. Sometimes, injuries pile up in the worst ways, leaving teams shorthanded. Occasionally, teams might only field eight or nine players on a given night, meaning that a handful of players will be in line for big minutes. They won't be benefitting from playing together -- it's not the same type of situation as when a team's second receiver is out and the quarterback and top receiver are expected to see a higher volume of linked production -- but the increased opportunity can be enough for multiple players on the same squad to post useful fantasy outings. Don't shy away from teammates when there are minutes to be had just because they're on the same team.

Roster Eligibility
The NBA is a fluid game, and players play different positions all the time, especially depending on matchups. In football, you don't see quarterbacks playing wide receiver, and you don't see hockey goaltenders playing on the first line at left wing, but you will see such flexibility during the NBA season. That lends itself to pairing up teammates on occasion.

If a player listed as a small forward but is actually playing shooting guard for the night, it can be reasonable to play two small forward eligible players from the same team if the other variables -- matchup,  paceover/under, etc. -- are right. 

Price
Sometimes, the price is right for a player. Similar to the idea that you can stack when a team's roster is thin, you can also pair teammates if one or more of their prices is just great. You don't have to have to run out a four-player stack, but you can pair a cheap player who is in line for a minutes increase with a teammate and not be super concerned that there won't be enough production to go around, provided that both are still set for a reliable role. A backup point guard and a star power forward can still work for your fantasy roster.

Matchup
Some teams play bad defense. Some teams also play at a high pace. Sometimes, teams do both, and that alone can justify relying on teammates. 

Bad Teams
No, this isn't the same concept. Rather, sometimes teams are just bad NBA squads, and that means that their use in DFS is generally low, so these players can see decreased price tags whether they're producing or not. It's not always fun rostering Philadelphia 76ers, but it actually totally is.

On such squads, Usage Rates can be funneled through just a few players, and targeting players on teams with bad records who happen to be in good fantasy matchups (based on over/under and opponent) can be a good way to get some guaranteed production, provided their rotation isn't deep. Most people will want to play big-name players from teams getting national television exposure, but loading up on key players from cellar-dwelling squads in juicy matchups can make a huge difference.

Game Stacks
You can also consider a different type of stack, which is sometimes referred to as a "game stack." What that means is that you target a single game (or two) rather than a specific team. This can be a potential option when a game has a comparatively higher over/under than other games on the same slate. If seven games have over/unders below 200, for example, and one or two games have over/unders of 210 or higher, you can reasonably expect some of the best fantasy scores of the night to come from just those handful of games.

Of course, you can't expect to have rostered all the best fantasy lines, but this is another way to understand stacking in NBA DFS.

Takeaways

Stacking in daily fantasy NBA doesn't have quite the extensive discourse that the topic has in  football and baseball, but that doesn't mean you should dismiss it out of hand or shy away from pairing up teammates just because they're teammates.

Then again, it's hard to cash in on a four-player stack if the team doesn't go bananas, so always weigh the pros and cons of the specific slate before attempting something like a full stack.

The bottom line, really, is that NBA production isn't necessarily conducive to stacking, but the fluidity of positions, the nature of the NBA's rotation-based system, and the potential for high-scoring, high-production games for multiple players means that you shouldn't avoid stacking at all costs.