Building a GPP Lineup - Stacking
Stacking is one of the most important things to consider when building a GPP lineup. Remember, that GPP’s are tournament where the top 20-30% of entries will get paid out and typically have thousands of entrants. You want to build a lineup that is positively correlated to fantasy points. That means pairing your starting quarterback with one of his receivers or multiple players from the same team. If the receiver blows up for a huge game, who else is probably having a good game? The quarterback! I’m going to take you through one of my favorite GPP lineups for Week 6 and the process I go through to get there. But first, let’s talk about why stacking works.
Stacking works for one simple reason: correlation. When a quarterback throws a touchdown, you could score more points if you had rostered whoever caught that touchdown as well. Below is a correlation matrix that Chris Raybon from 4for4.com put together. It’s extremely easy to see which players are correlated to one another’s fantasy success. For example, the QB and Opposing Defense have the worst correlation at -0.41. If Andrew Luck is facing the Broncos, is it a good idea to roster him and the Broncos D in the same lineup? Obviously not. If the Broncos defense has a great game, it’s extremely likely that Andrew Luck will have a bad game and vice versa. On the opposite end, the QB and his WR1 have the highest correlation at +0.46. If T.Y. Hilton has a great game, who else is having a great game?
These results go much deeper than just pairing a quarterback and his wide receiver. Some people would think that a running back and his quarterback wouldn’t be positively correlated, but they’re wrong. You’d think if a running back had a good game, he’d be taking touchdowns away from the quarterback. That is true to some extent, but you could also think that if the quarterback had a good game, that team probably has the lead. And when teams have the lead, they run the ball!
Another interesting thing to note is the quarterback and the opposing team’s wide receiver 1. This is a strategy that a lot of people are employing when building their GPP lineups and it’s called a game stack. Sticking with the Broncos/Colts, if you roster Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton, it’s probably a good idea to roster Emmanuel Sanders as well. If Luck and Hilton go off, the Broncos will be losing and teams throw the ball when they’re losing giving more opportunity to Sanders.
Now that we understand stacking, let’s get into one of my favorite GPP lineups of the week and my process behind it. This is going to be a lesser owned stack. Obviously Cam Newton is in a great spot versus the Saints, but that’s too easy. First off, you need to do your research before entering lineups. Randomly selecting players might work once or twice, but your bankroll will dwindle over time. I’ve obviously done my research before writing this so that step is over with for the most part. I know which players I want exposure to and which players I want to avoid.
This week I’m really high on Carson Palmer. He’s playing Monday night against the Jets who struggle mightily against the pass. They’re ranked dead last against the pass on Football Outsiders DVOA. If you don’t know what DVOA is, it’s basically a defense’s statistics adjusted for strength of schedule. Essentially, the Jets are really strong against the run (ranking 3rd) and atrocious in the air. I’d assume the Cardinals know this and will sling it around the field with their talented wide receivers. He’s also a great option this week because he’s going to be much lower owned than the higher priced quarterbacks above him. Cam Newton, Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger are going to be highly owned for a reason. I’m going to have exposure to those guys as well, just not as much as Carson.
When figuring out someone to stack him with, the first thing that came to Larry Fitzgerald and that’s obviously a great option. I’m going to go to a much cheaper, lower-owned guy with just as much upside in John Brown. The two previous games with Palmer at the helm, Brown saw 11 and 16 targets. With Brown’s speed, he can easily take the top off this slow and old secondary. Also, the Jet’s are ranked 30th in the NFL against #2 receivers. Brown could be in for a huge game and at just $4,500 on DraftKings he’s a great flex play this week.
At running back I’m going to be slightly off the wall, but sometimes you need to do that in order to differentiate yourself from the other thousands of lineups. I’m going with David Johnson. I’m expecting the Cardinals to put up a ton of points against the Jets. Obviously the Jets are great against the run and this sounds slightly crazy at first. The fact is, David Johnson right now is one of the best running backs in the NFL regardless of matchup. Everyone was off Antonio Brown last year when they played the Broncos and he destroyed them. Some players are special enough to go off no matter what. It also helps that Johnson catches a ton of passes and I easily see him getting to his 20 point floor this week on DraftKings. I’m also going with LeVeon Bell at the other running back spot because he’s awesome and we all know that. There isn’t a lot of value this week at running back so a lot of people will be paying up this week.
So we have an Arizona stack with Carson Palmer, David Johnson and John Brown. If that hits and the Cardinals score a lot of points, what’s bound to happen? I’m going to roster an opposing receiver from the Jets and it’s not going to be Brandon Marshall. Patrick Peterson is expected to shadow him all game and will likely limit him somewhat. I’m going to roster Quincy Enunwa, who at just $4,900 is a great value play and someone who is going to see a lot of targets. The Cardinals rank 5th in pass defense, but just 17th against the opposing teams #2 receiver.
For my other two receivers I’m going with Tavon Austin and Michael Crabtree. I’m also pairing Austin with Rams defense hoping for a punt return touchdown. They’re playing the Lions and we all know how inconsistent Matthew Stafford can be. Tavon also has seen a lot of targets the past few weeks and I expect that to continue against the worst overall defense in the league. Crabtree is in a good spot being the #2 receiver for the Raiders against the Chiefs. The Chiefs are a solid defense, but rank 21st in the NFL at covering the opposing teams #2. Crabtree should be less owned this week as well after Cooper stole some attention last week with his big game.
My favorite tight end play this week is Jimmy Graham. It seems like everyone has forgotten about him after not really contributing last year and the injury. He now has back to back games of 6 catches and 100 yards and he’s going against one of the worst defenses in the Atlanta Falcons. The rank 31st in giving up points to opposing tight ends and have gotten torched by Clive Walford, Coby Fleener and Greg Olson and I expect Graham to do the same.
Here’s how the lineup looks
QB: Carson Palmer - $6,800
RB: David Johnson - $8,000
RB: LeVeon Bell - $7,900
WR: Tavon Austin - $3,900
WR: Quincy Enunwa - $4,900
WR: Michael Crabtree - $6,900
TE: Jimmy Graham - $4,900
Flex: John Brown - $4,500
D/ST: Rams - $2,900
Spending up for the two most expensive running backs is really going to differentiate this lineup. It honestly could finish in dead last, but it gives you the leverage you need in order to jump people who rostered the highly owned players if these guys go off. Especially if those highly owned players bust which is always fun and happens much more than you think. I’d rather give myself a chance at the top than to finish in the 40th percentile and not cash anyway. When thinking of your GPP lineups it’s very important to differentiate yourselves from the field, but doing so in a methodical way that makes sense. Picking random players that you know won’t be owned just for the sake of that is not a good idea. Stacking is always a good place to start and refer to the matrix at the top if you’re ever confused whether two players can positively or negatively affect one another. Good luck this week and hope all the money comes your way. Thanks again for reading and follow me on Twitter! @Keagan28