NBA Thoughts – Game Stacking

Happy Friday, ya’ll! I am going to take this space to write a few thoughts about one of my favorite strategies for NBA GPPs: The Game Stack. If you have watched any of our Deeper Dive shows here on FanVice you have certainly heard me mention game stacking many times, and some of our own members have had great success already employing the strategy in their lineups (shout out to chat regular MarkHanalla!). I still people try to employ this strategy but taking a suboptimal approach to it, however, so I want to spend a bit of time writing about how to correctly utilize it.


Why Game Stack?

In the infinite search for value that is the essence of DFS, it is easy to overlook correlation plays that can lead to GPP winning scores. When we are playing GPPs, we are really searching for those extremely rare outcomes where we can finish in the top 1% or higher and scoop all the money in GPPs that pay a large percentage of the prize pool to the top few places. So, while everyone is in search for the best values on any given slate that represent the safest, highest point per dollar players, it can be difficult to win a GPP utilizing a strategy that everyone else is using as well. So, game stacking gives us access to a few important factors that the vast majority of GPP lineups will not have:

  • Access to extreme outlier games. We have not seen many overtime games yet this season, or double overtime games for that matter, but they are coming. And when they do, you are likely going to see the top of the GPPs filled by people with multiple players from those games. I want to stress that it is not about “predicting overtime”, but rather, making sure you have exposure to the outlier games when they do occur. Roughly 6 percent of NBA games go to overtime, and that number gets bigger when we narrow down the pool of games we consider game stacking to those with close spreads, as games that are predicted to be closely contested by our good friends in Las Vegas are much more likely to head to overtime.
  • Game stacking provides an easy, built in way, to fade some of the most popular, “chalk” plays of the day. Because an effective game stack requires you to roster the 5 or 6 best players in a game stack, and there is limited availability across the different roster spots, you’ll be forced to fade some of the “best value” plays of the day that a large percentage of the field is on. That’s a good thing! It is important not to fight this when creating your game stack. Create the best stack possible first, and then fill in the rest of your roster. I see many people making the mistake of fitting in all the chalk, and then fitting pieces of a game stack around those chalk plays. DON’T DO THAT!!


How to Effectively Game Stack

  • I mentioned it in the paragraph above, but I want to reiterate the importance of building the best game stack possible, then filling in the best value plays around the game stack you can, not the other way around. One of the advantages you gain in game stacking is the built-in fades of chalk plays, so resist the urge to force the chalk in at the expense of the best players in the game you are targeting.
  • Close Spreads; High Totals: This should be obvious enough, but when choosing which game to stack use Vegas lines to choose a game that is predicted to have a lot of points scored and also is a close game. Even if the game fails to go to overtime, if the game is close through all 4 quarters you will likely get full minutes out of a lot of quality players in a high scoring game. When games with 220 Vegas totals go to overtime, you are looking at potential game ending scores of 125-120 which can be an absolute gold mine if most of your roster is comprised of players from that game.
  • The game you are choosing needs to have reliable options on both sides of the ball that you can be pretty sure will account for a lot of each team’s fantasy production and will be on the floor at the end of a close game and in overtime. For instance, if we are game stacking a Portland Trail Blazers game, it does not make a ton of sense to include a player like Allen Crabbe or, god bless him, Mason Plumlee in the game stack. They might not even be on the floor to benefit when you do hit that outlier result. So, when I am game stacking Portland, I am typically taking the only two players who I am certain will be out there: Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Of course, some teams, like the Warriors, we can name three or even four of the players who are mortal locks to be on the floor should the outlier result occur. If tonight’s game in Boston goes to overtime, you can be nearly certain Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green are all going to have a lot of fantasy points heading into overtime and that all will be on the floor for the extra five minutes.
  • So the optimal game stack is one where we can expect a high pace of play resulting in a lot of fantasy points being accumulated, a close spread giving us a better shot at a close end of the game or overtime, and, essentially but often overlooked, reliable options on BOTH sides of the ball if we do get lucky and hit the dynamite game of the night. These games are fairly rare but when we find them we should be running multiple iterations of that game stack. The best one tonight, clearly, is Warriors-Celtics, where we have a 225 total and a 7 point spread with the game in Boston where the Celtics have played the Warriors tough. Should this game be close to the finish or go to overtime, we can be nearly certain the following players will be on the court: Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green. It’s surprisingly easy to fit 5 or even 6 of these players into lineups. I’ll be doing it. Feel free to join me.