NFL Week 9: TE, DST, Stacks and Game Theory Explained

There are so many decisions involved in picking players for GPPs. The cash game mantra is a lot more simple: load up on the high floors. The GPP requires game theory. What is game theory? Well, the easiest explanation of game theory is this: We are not trying to score the most points, we are trying to score more points than everyone else.

Chasing the optimal lineup is a fool's errand. You'll drive yourself mad thinking of the different ways you can stack a lineup full of pivots, punts, chalks, and other high variance plays.

Maybe every week when you look at the top finishes in your tournament you think to yourself "WHO THE HELL WOULD HAVE PLAYED THAT GUY!". Well, that winner was exercising game theory when they decided to play that guy.
Yes, it involves an element of luck. Sometimes fading TY Hiltons against Josh Normans is the logical thing to do. We are just educated guessers. The more educated we become, the more the results tend to puzzle us. But, what we do understand is that there are formulas to doing things. When it comes to GPPs, the formula boils down to making all the correct calls. There is no margin for error. To take down the top prize takes balls.

I've never finished higher than just outside the top 1% in an NFL GPP. It has long been a goal of mine just to crack a top 10 in a smaller field or top 100 in a larger field. My best lineup of the year so far was sadly in a 50/50 league. You can imagine how frustrating it is to stare at your lineup sitting at #1 in a 50/50 knowing that the guy who finished 294 places below you netted the same prize.

You can take some solace in knowing you absolutely nailed your cash game picks, but you also stare at your moronic GPP lineup from the same week and wonder why you didn't recognize the high floor potential on your cash lineup.

Remember, these are all just lessons to be learned. Embrace your failure. Do not channel your frustration into self-loathing or doubt. Look at the positives.

Week 9 TEs

Let's talk about Tight Ends for Week 9. After Tyler Eifert went ham last night on the Brownies with the hat trick, we're hoping that is a good omen for the rest of our TE slate this weekend. Antonio Gates, Heath Miller, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, and Charles Clay (narrative) may be some of the favorite plays this week. Miller and ASJ come in very reasonably priced on DK, Gates is sure to see a bump up soon as he's still in recovery mode.

I think I like Gates, and Miller to some extent. The narrative that the Raiders will allow any TE to annihilate them is a little overblown, but Miller should still see a healthy dose of targets because the Raiders run defense is pretty solid, making Big ben turn to the air.

Week 9 DST

For defenses this week I see a couple of obvious plays. X vs Blaine Gabbert is one. X in this week's case = Atlanta. We also have a very strong Denver D coming off a dominating performance against Aaron Rodgers, now facing the 2015 version of Andrew Luck. While Luck has salvaged a lot of his value playing catch-up in the 4th quarter, you get the feeling that Denver is in prime position to take one back to the house with how determined Luck seems to be to fit throws into tight windows.

The Art of the Stack

There are a few very common stacks in DFS lineup building. They are based on what we call positive correlation. If we are expecting Calvin Johnson to catch 3 TDs, then it would just make logical sense to stack him with the QB who is throwing him the ball. There is also the RB/DST stack, which is positive correlation because it follows in game flow that a team that is leading big in a game is probably having a good day defensively and running the ball with a comfortable lead, giving us more RB opportunity.

Conversely there are what we would consider negative correlation stacks. Usually this is when you're taking a WR/RB from the same team. This isn't always a negative correlation, because both can have good days, but usually either the passing game or the running game is going to be utilized based on game flow.

Consider the QB/RB stack a positive correlation if your RB is more of a receiver out of the backfield, such as Dion Lewis or Danny Woodhead. Brady/Lewis is a positive correlation stack because Lewis is heavily involved in the pass game. Brady/Blount is a negative correlation stack because Blount is rarely involved in the pass game.

Stacking a QB/RB/WR isn't always recommended, but there always exceptions to the rule. Brady/Edelman/Lewis for instance isn't going to provide you with negative correlation because Lewis is basically like another receiver. Also, a highly productive offense with studs at both positions can still pay off. Going Julio / Freeman can still be productive since we know both plays are usually high floor.

Alternatively, there are a couple special stacks we can also consider. There is the "Doubling up" stack in which you select a offensive player who is also involved in the return game such as Tavon Austin or Jarvis Landry. Pairing Landry/Dolphins D means that if Landry scores on a punt return, you would double your points because your defense and WR both get the TD added to their scoring. This is good if you can make it happen, but predicting special teams TDs is pretty difficult.

On Fanduel, where a kicker is required. You can try the kicker/opposing defense stack. Say the Raiders are playing the Broncos. Selecting Janikowski and the Broncos D seems like a bit of a negative correlation, but it may actually not be. If the Broncos have a great red zone defense and the Raiders have a bad red zone offense, Janikowski could end up with 10 points off 3 FGs, and Denver still keeps a low point total. Personally I don't see much merit in this strategy, but it is something to be aware of when looking for cheap kicker plays on FD.

Week 9 Fat Stacks
Big Ben / Antonio Brown (or Heath Miller)
Freeman / ATL D,
Brady / Gronk (or Edelman)

Rodgers / Cobb,
L. Blount / Pats D
Brady / LaFell
DeMarco Murray / Eagles D

Good luck this week and if you have any questions please feel free to comment below and I will answer them.

-- DF

Derek Finley

Existing in a world of psychotic monkeys. Writing about sports for passion. Thirsting for knowledge and beer.