Monday, September 28, 2015

A Counter Strategy I Use in Cash Games

I have been perfecting this over the last few seasons and yesterday it showcased why I like the strategy so well.

It starts with what I perceive as this myth:  "Don't Stack your QB/WR in cash games".

I have always scratched my head with that one.  That's exactly what you do when you would like to score the most points and win a GPP.  And when a matchup is great and We expect a QB to shred it, why wouldn't we double up on that situation if the WR was reasonably priced as well.

Not only do I stack in nearly all of my cash game submits, I also look to get the best WR or TE on the opposing team in my lineup (sometimes there is not someone I like enough to warrant this).  In my cash games this week, I started with these pairings:

Cam Newton / Olsen Olsen stack only
Carson Palmer / Larry Fitzgerald stack only
Andrew Luck / T.Y. Hilton stack and Kendall Wright
Tom Brady / Julian Edelman stack and Allen Hurns
Tom Brady / Rob Gronkowski stack and Allen Hurns
Russell Wilson / Jimmy Graham stack only
Marcus Mariota / Kendall Wright stack and T.Y. Hilton
Eli Manning / Odell Beckham Jr, stack and Jordan Reed (Thu)
Matt Ryan / Julio Jones stack only
Ben Roethlisberger / Antonio Brown stack and Kenny Britt
Nick Foles / Kenny Britt stack and Antonio Brown
Blake Bortles / Allen Hurns and Julian Edelman
Aaron Rodgers / Randall Cobb stack and Travis Kelce
Alex Smith / Travis Kelce stack and Randall Cobb

I am set to win heavily with 12 of these 14 this week.  But forget the results for awhile.  I will tell you why I favor this approach:

- When your quarterback is awful (or gets hurt), your lineup is in deep trouble anyway.  Suffice it to say the Ben Roethlisberger roster above is not going to win.  But would any Roethlisberger roster you created this week have won?  If so it did it with everyone else.  

- By starting with different bases of 2-3 players, you end up with a wider range of dollars left.  This forces you into choosing slightly different players and limiting being over-exposed to any one guy.

- These same lineups can be used in 2X, 3X, 5X, and smaller GPPs.  They are high variance plays that can get way above the cutline when all three parts of the stack work. In fact this is what I like the most about this particular strategy).  Let's say you are going to allocate $100 to a 3 part stacked lineup.

I would allocate it like this:

$50 (50%) in 2X and 50/50s
$30 (30%) in 3X
$20 (20%) in 5X and smaller GPP

You get the benefit of a major hit when it all goes well.   

I realize that 14 starting stack combos can be a bit extreme for people (me included). In most weeks, I am looking to play 4-6 such combos.  This week had a lot of games where I thought a shoot was definitely possible and wanted these extra lineups in play to minimize variance on the players I really liked.  


  1. Thanks for sharing this. It makes a lot of sense. I got burned last year on the Luck/Fleener stack that I imagined was a no brainer based on prior weeks. Was it the Ravens Defense that kept you away from the Dalton/Green stack this week?

  2. I understand the lineup dynamics, but this strategy is really not a pure cash-game strategy. I'm no expert, but I think what you have created is an approach to creating optimal hybrid lineups -- lineups reliable enough to play in cash games but with enough upside/variance to win 3-5x and small GPPs. For people only playing 50/50, H2H, and DU, this strategy would, I think, be sub-optimal for at least 2 reasons. First, you are taking on more risk with your QB/WR stacks and by using 3 players in the same game hoping for a particular game script. Second, any time you use more than one cash lineup, the second, third, and so-on are all, by definition, sub-optimal. It would be interesting to see the overall data on this approach, because you taking on risk with each lineup, but then lowering risk by using so many. Perhaps, if you have access to DK or FD historical data, you can crunch the numbers on the QB/WR/opp-WR stack and see if it is EV+. It may very well be.

    1. But what about the fact that if you can't pick a QB right you're very likely to lose anyway? When you do you might as well get the extra his pass catchers get, a lot of time at a discount per point. Most folks middle for fear of guessing too wrong or too right, and thus the don't stack in cash game mantra, but it really does make little sense when it comes to scoring points, that if you're willing to place Palmer at the head of your cash lu you wont place Fitz in the same lu. Or be scared of an opp-WR in a blowout we all know is coming. I can't lie, I absolutely love this line of thinking. Personally, I've felt cash lu picking too different from tourney lu picking for awhile now. Could be just me, but I've felt like Jekyll and Hyde going tween the two and the goal is the same, to score a lot of points. I'm not insinuating they're the same now in my mind, but it never felt right the two practices so different. This feels simpler. Look at what Vegas tells us, pick a game script, stack who's going to freaking score. And for multipliers and small GPPs start with what we know, not what others wont be doing. Points are points.

    2. I whiffed on my QB last week (Foles) and still cashed easily, even with Crowell in my lineup as well.

      I've only been doing this for a year so I'm by no means an expert but I've come to believe in only using 1 lineup for my double ups. Not only do I never stack a QB and Rec but I very rarely even have 2 players from the same team. I agree with the comments from Robert above as to the viability of this strategy. It seems to me it would be better for multipliers and GPP's.

  3. I use stacks but differently in my cash lineups. I look for high floor stacks and this week there were two of them I felt their combined salaries looked to be the floor of their likely production for the coming week.

    This week one obvious cash stack for me was Fitzgerald and John Brown. Combining their salaries you only needed a combined stat line of 11-140-1 to reach combined 2X cash value on FanDuel this week. That seemed below the floor I would put on them combined with the match up with SF at home. Of course I would have preferred the bigger game for Brown in GPP's but it greatly reduced risk and variance having both in my cash lineup & not worrying about which one to pick. It was simple, clear and obvious that they would be the two highest targeted players for Palmer at WR.

    I also used Brady-Gostkowski as a stack in the same cash lineup. This allowed me to roster AP, Freeman, Marshall & SEA D on this roster also and was an easy across the board cash this week at 180.

    1. I like the paired WR cash game hedge too. Hurns and Robinson was that last week, although with a little more careful digging you can usually figure out who will have the softer CB coverage.

  4. How many players is considered the top end of a small GPP?

    1. I would say these lineups work great up to a 1,000 player GPP

  5. With the positive correlation of QB/WR of about .35, it seems like all you are doing is lowering your floor and raising your ceiling. For multipliers, this is probably an optimal strategy. For cash, you would basically have to convince me that the particular pair has a >50% of hitting. I have a feeling that for underdogs and less powerful offenses, that will almost never be the case. If you are looking toaverage the best $/point, while hitting 120 or so points every week, I think just taking the best values with highest floors are the way to go in cash. Now if you find two top values in one game, then it seems like you would prefer to have the negatively correlated instead of positively correlated. Like the two WR from same team, or QB/RB on same team. Then you will most likely hit the projected overall $/point you are looking for with the higher floor.

    1. In looking at your above stacks, it may be possible for the high powered offense in the high vegas totals to hit >50%, but I just don't see how Mariota / Wright, Foles / Britt or Bortles / Hurns could possibly be a good place to start a cash game lineup. You are starting with a low priced QB that doesn't need a huge game to hit value, but then doubling down on them. You could easily cash with Foles at QB most weeks, but now you take his bad game (with a high probability) and double down in a situation that is probably <50%. Multipliers yes, ,double ups, no IMO.

      The QB/TE stack is always interesting to me in cash games, because it is much different in terms of risk profile than a qb/wr. The Cam/Olsen, Smith/Kelce stacks I am not in love with for a cash games, but the expectation on TE's is much less than WRs, especially top WRs. Gronk is obviously an exception to almost every rule.

  6. What do you think about the QB/WR stack with the opposing RB strategy in GPP's? For example, this week Bortles/Robinson stack with Gore. Theoretically the Colts should be up running it with Gore and the Jags should be behind airing it out to the WRs.

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