Stacking Running Backs in Guillotine

Kareem Hunt – an excellent target for the RB-stacking strategy.

About a year ago I published 7 Tactics for Drafting in Guillotine Leagues, in which I suggested tactics for drafting a resilient team that would make it easier to implement the Bid Low, Bid Late strategy and win fantasy football guillotine leagues.

Having tried these tactics out last year, I think I emerged from my drafts with reasonably resilient teams, and performed reasonably well in my leagues.

There is one tactic, however, that I dismissed in the article and I am now reconsidering and implementing, which is running back stacking – drafting two startable running backs from the same team.

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I continue to strongly believe in anti-stacking as applied to the QB-WR1 stack. As those who study daily fantasy sports know, the performances of a team’s quarterback and their top wide receiver are positively correlated. In guillotine, starting both of these players increases your chances of being eliminated when they both have a bad week.

I noted that there is a weaker but still nontrivial correlation between QB and TE1, the team’s top tight end. Beyond the QB-WR1 pairing and the QB-TE1 pairing, I advised readers not to worry too much about stacking, because the correlations were either too weak to be meaningful, or not relevant to the guillotine league format I was addressing.

About RB1-RB2 stacks in particular, I considered whether such a stack would be advisable, due to the fact that these positions negatively correlate, and therefore conform to the anti-stacking tactic. I concluded that because the negative correlation was low, there was no point to it.

I am now changing my mind.

Despite the correlation being low, I now think that stacking RBs on the same team can makes sense, as an in-game handcuff strategy. This particularly makes sense where each player is independently startable, but one generally receives more of the rushing work and the other receives more of the pass-catching work.

Take Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt as an example. If I’ve drafted Chubb early, I will be targeting Hunt in the later rounds. Hunt happens to be a favored target of mine anyway, because of his consistency. But I’m also targeting him because he is Chubb insurance. If Chubb gets injured, I anticipate that Hunt will pick up many of his carries; and if the game script calls for more passing, I expect that Hunt’s production will increase, to offset the decrease in Chubb’s.

The one RB committee that I actually got this year is Gordon-Lindsay. I am pretty confident that both players have significant roles in the Denver offense every week, and I think Lindsay becomes the primary receiving RB.

I am less confident of Lindsay as a consistent week-to-week starter than I would be about Kareem Hunt. But in the 6th round of an 18-team league, Lindsay seemed like a great value for a flex, and the fact that he is Gordon insurance just makes him better.

I don’t think that this tactic is limited to situations where there are two definite starters. It can be applied where there may or may not be a committee with two relevant RBs, and the uncertainty is priced in. For example, I think it is likely that Austin Ekeler and Joshua Kelley would be a 1-2 combination for the Chargers, and would not mind a reach for Kelley in the later rounds.

This could work where two RBs from the same team are available late, either where the committee seems clear, like Jordan Howard-Matt Breida in Miami, or not, like James White and Lamar Miller? Sony Michel? maybe even Damien Harris or Rex Burkhead? in New England.

Do you have any thoughts on RB-stacking in guillotine leagues? Share your thoughts in the comments or in the facebook group.