One of the quickest paths to creating additional expected value in DFS tournaments is through correlation. If you can find ways to correlate your lineups you create leverage on individual plays.
In DFS sports with event-driven scoring (like baseball, football, or hockey), correlation creates an even bigger advantage. When your wide receiver catches a touchdown from the quarterback he’s paired with, a hitter drives in one of your base-runners, or two line-mates connect for assists on a goal, there are paths in these sports to accelerating your scoring quickly. NBA DFS scores are compiled more incrementally and thus the value of stacking teammates isn’t as substantial. This hasn’t stopped DFS tournament players from chasing correlation. In recent years, we’ve seen heavier usage of game stacking.
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The idea behind game stacking is to find correlation through added playing time. You can get the added playing time by a more competitive game that keeps starters minutes elevated or you get the benefit of an overtime period that adds five more available minutes for your players to consume. Historically about 5-7 percent of NBA games will go to overtime in a season; the usage of game stacks typically comes in below that number in large field tournaments, so the strategy adds a bit of expected value.
While the strategy alone likely adds some expected value, I do not believe it’s profitable enough to do indiscriminately. Here are some other aspects to consider when game stacking.
Totals aren’t the primary consideration
Many DFS players start their analysis with game totals. Game totals are a quick way to understand scoring environment and the most fantasy points generally come in the games with the most real points. However, they’re also a common research point. This brings ownership to many of the individual plays.
In addition, since most favorable game environments come from the same teams, the players on those teams usually get the favorable environments baked into their price tags. This makes it often difficult to effectively game stack the most compelling environments on the slate. You’re often asked to pay a premium on ownership alongside a fair salary. These are difficult situations to fully extract value.