Daily Fantasy Football: Should You Stack in Cash Games?

In daily fantasy football, stacking can provide your team with extra upside. But can it also give your team a lower floor, making it risky in cash games?

Everything aligned for the Green Bay Packers to have a big offensive output in Week 10 of 2015. They were facing the Detroit Lions, who ranked among the bottom 10 teams in the league both against the pass and the rush. The Packers were at home, they were heavily favored, and the game had a decent over/under. It looked like a relatively safe option.

Things don't always work as they appear on paper.

Even when a situation seems like a slam dunk for fantasy goodness, they don't always work out that way. If you are heavily invested in that situation, it can punch you square in the jaw. That can leave you vulnerable to utter despair if you employ the strategy of stacking. How do we combat this?

Let's take a look at the idea of stacking within your 50/50 and head-to-head lineups to see if this is a strategy you should be employing.

The Positives of Stacking

In case you don't know what stacking is, our introduction to stacking gives a full breakdown of various stacks you can use and why they are advantageous. I'd recommend reading through that, but let's just give a brief overview of the idea.

Stacking is when you select multiple players from the same team whose success will directly benefit each other. The most obvious is a quarterback with a receiver as you'll get points both from the passing touchdown for the quarterback and the receiving touchdown for the receiver if both are on your roster. The same is true with quarterbacks and tight ends as well as pass-catching running backs.

The other stacks are related to game flow. Both running backs and defenses and special teams thrive when their offense is in positive game script. This means the team will be likely to run the ball, lending additional points to the running back. The defense can see a boost with the other team forced to go to the air, giving the upside for more sacks and interceptions. Therefore, stacking the two makes sense, even though one doesn't directly benefit from the success of the other.

Clearly, there are reasons you should be stacking. But does that mean this is a positive strategy when it comes to cash games? I tend to lean no here.

The Argument for Avoiding Stacking in Cash Games

If you're looking for a reason that I generally avoid stacking in cash games, you can simply look at the example at the top of the page. Not every game goes as planned. I want to minimize the risk my teams inherit just in case I pinned a game incorrectly.

In that example above, I would have been very much invested in the Packers' offense given their matchup. However, that team was missing its top receiver in Jordy Nelson and hadn't appeared to be clicking on all cylinders the previous few weeks. I should have read that situation better. Because I did not, it would have cost me dearly had I heavily invested in the offense.

In this contest, Aaron Rodgers still managed to have a decent fantasy output because he chucked the ball 61 times. That's not always going to be the case. If the passing game struggles, and you have both a quarterback and a wide receiver on your roster, that's two positions on your roster at which you could take a hurting. When that happens, you are going to need to get big performances from the rest of your team in order to not suffer some losses. That's a pretty big risk for a simple botched evaluation.

This same line of thinking is true when it comes to running backs and defenses and special teams. They are both dependent on the same type of game flow (in most situations) in order to post respectable fantasy numbers. This can amplify the importance of something going wrong, as well.

Let's say you have a running back and a defense and special teams from the same team. If that team's quarterback has a rough game and throws a couple of interceptions, it's possible the team could find itself trailing. That would have a negative effect on both of the assets on your roster. Is that a risk you are willing to inherit?

The other risk here is injuries. If a member of the offensive line gets dinged and is forced to leave the game early, that's going to have a ripple effect. The efficiency of various pieces of the offense is likely to dip, and if you own more than one of those pieces, you could be in for a serious hurting. If your quarterback gets hurt, and you own one of his wide receivers? Woof. No bueno, boss.

Obviously, these are all extreme situations, and not all of them are likely to happen (most specifically the injuries). More often than not, you're going to correctly identify a situation. So are there situations in which stacking in cash is viable?

Situations Where Stacking in Cash Can Be Acceptable

In almost all situations, I'm going to look to avoid stacking multiple players on the same team in cash. That doesn't mean this comes without exceptions.

The best example of this would be on a short slate. If you're playing a shorter slate that has five or fewer games, it'll be hard to avoid stacking. It's just something you're going to have to do. I prefer not to play cash games on those shorter slates partially for this reason, but that's another discussion in itself.

There are also times where pricing may make a stack viable. The example with the Packers wouldn't fit under this umbrella because many of the players were higher-priced assets. However, running back James Starks, wide receiver Davante Adams, and tight end Richard Rodgers were all still able to hit cash-game value in that game because they were lower-priced.

If there are multiple players on one team who appear to be screaming "values" based on their price, I may be willing to budge on my not-stacking-in-cash mantra. Even with the nightmare scenario, these players didn't hurt those who rostered them in cash because the price was right. This doesn't make using those players less of a risk, but it does at least give you a better chance to make up for any of their shortcomings because you were able to allocate salary elsewhere.

Value plays also come in to play when I'm using their quarterback in cash. Let's say I've decided I want to use Tom Brady in cash because of the team's matchup. Additionally, Danny Amendola finds himself with an expanded role because of an injury elsewhere in the receiving core. If Amendola's price has not adjusted, making him an obvious value, then I will not avoid him simply because I am using Brady. Again, there is risk involved here, but I will do that if I view Amendola to be one of the week's best values at receiver. Foregoing stacks with quarterbacks largely pertains to pairing them with a higher-priced wide receiver or tight end.

These may seem like a bunch of rules that only apply to risk-averse weenies like me. That's a fair assessment. My strategy in cash games is to inherit as little risk as humanly possible while still giving myself a chance at upside. Stacking does give me that upside. I just think that -- unless the price is absolutely right or I have limited options -- this risk is too much for me to carry. If you feel super comfortable with a matchup and are dead-set on rostering multiple players, you can absolutely do so. Just know that this type of strategy carries a higher degree of risk than diversifying your investment.