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.


Guillotine Leagues: Week 16

It was the final week of the three week playoff, and I entered with a lead. Despite some bad luck and a wrong start/sit decision, I was able to hang on and win, thanks mostly to to Saquon Barkley. The bad luck was mostly starting D.J. Moore, who got concussed early and ended up with one reception for one yard. It was a little bit the Ingram injury that caused him to miss a quarter of the game, and maybe that touchdown that Justice Hill got. The bad start/sit decision was Russell Wilson over Drew Brees. I played the matchup over the hot streak, and that turned out to be the wrong move. In all, I left about 60 points on the table by starting Wilson in two out of the three games in the playoff.

But in the end, it didn’t matter. I entered Monday night’s game solidly in second place and 13 points behind first, with the first place team having nobody, and me having Davante Adams. He scored enough points to win. The third place team needed more than 50 points from Aaron Rodgers to catch me, which did not happen. So, I won first place.

That’s it for the season. Now it is time to reflect on the strategy I used in the Fanball leagues, which might be pointless since it seems clear that Fanball will be changing its guillotine league rules.

Anyway, I do not expect to post for a while. I hope you got some use out of my writing this season.


Guillotine Leagues: Week 15

It was Week 2 of Fanball’s 3-week playoff. I went from worst to first. Last week, I lamented that starting Russell Wilson instead of Drew Brees was the difference between first and last. The scores were just about 140 – 120 – 120 – 100.

This week, my team crushed it. I started Drew Brees, who scored close to 40 points in Fanball’s 6-points-per-pass-TD system. Zeke Elliott and Saquon Barkley also scored over 30 points. Davante Adams, Travis Kelce and Mark Ingram scored over 20 points. My only sub-20 player was Stefon Diggs, with 12. Overall, my team scored 185 points, and now leads 284 – 272 – 257 – 253. It is a pretty close match which should make for an exciting weekend.

I’m going to be with family in Canada this weekend, which I hope won’t interfere with team management. I will probably need to remember to check injury updates at noon on Sunday without my phone reminding me.

Good luck to all out there who made the championship week!

Guillotine Leagues: Week 13

There are no more waivers in Fanball leagues, so I’m writing this just for the 2 or 3 of you who are interested in my teams, to update you about my tragic week.

At my last update, I was surviving in 3 out of my original 9 leagues. In my Fanball leagues, there were no waivers left, so Week 13 rosters were final rosters. I was reasonable well-positioned, with good starters and at least decent backups in every position, including quarterback and tight end. In my ESPN league, I had enough FAAB advantage to ensure that I get my pick of the free agents for the rest of the season.

On Thanksgiving, disaster struck. I was sick and had a sleepless night, which is not too uncommon, but we also went to Thanksgiving dinner at a relative’s house, which meant drinking and parenting my two little kids, with no time to recover until the late afternoon. I crashed into the guest bed for a long nap, and slept through the news that Julio Jones was out. Not switching out Julio for Davante Adams was fatal. That 24-point swing was the difference between last place and 2nd place. So I’m eliminated in my Green Knights league.

In my ESPN league, I just had bad games from many players and no really good games from anyone. Mahomes 19.5 was not great, and then I got 10.7 from Lev Bell, 8.9 from Nik Chubb, 6.7 from DJ Chark, 10.1 from Tyreek Hill, 5.4 from Zack Ertz, and 0 from Tyler Lockett. My highest position player scores were 18.8 from Keenan Allen, 16.7 from Austin Ekeler, and 13.4 from Dalvin Cook. These would be okay top scores in Week 5, but in Week 13 they mean elimination. In retrospect, starting Lockett and Dalvin Cook were mistakes, since both had been cleared to start after injury concerns.  I lost by 7 points, which means that if I had started any 2 backups (other than Julio Jones) over Lockett and Cook – any 2 of Calvin Ridley, Saquon Barkley, Amari Cooper, Cooper Kupp, Chris Carson, and Todd Gurley – I would have survived. In fact, my 7 active bench players (the above plus Deshaun Watson) scored nearly as many points as my 11 starters, getting outscored only 133.7 – 131.9.

That leaves me alive in only one league. My starters this week for Team The Bourgeoisie are:

QB: Russell Wilson
RB: Zeke Elliott
RB: Mark Ingram
WR: Davante Adams
WR: Stefon Diggs
TE: Travis Kelce
FLEX: Josh Jacobs

My bench has Drew Brees, Saquon Barkley, D.J. Moore, Jarvis Landry, and Jacob Hollister.

Here is my competition. The names are made up to avoid putting people’s handles in my blog.

Team Lamar

QB: Lamar Jackson
RB: Dalvin Cook
RB: Alvin Kamara
WR: DeAndre Hopkins
WR: Cooper Kupp
TE: Hunter Henry
FLEX: Tyreek Hill

Bench: Daniel Jones, Melvin Gordon, Philip Lindsay, Odell Beckham, Mark Andrews

Team Mahomes

QB: Patrick Mahomes
RB: Leonard Fournette
RB: Aaron Jones
WR: Michael Thomas
WR: Tyler Lockett
TE: Darren Waller
FLEX: Austin Ekeler

Bench: Dak Prescott, James White, Kenny Golladay, Sammy Watkins, Ryan Griffin

Team Rodgers

QB: Aaron Rodgers
RB: Todd Gurley
RB: Derrick Henry
WR: Chris Godwin
WR: Julio Jones
TE: Jared Cook
FLEX: Keenan Allen

Bench: Kyler Murray, Kenyan Drake, Tevin Coleman, D.J. Chark, Greg Olsen

The owner of Team Rodgers bragged right after the draft that he will win the league. I think he finishes 4th.

The next 3 weeks are playoffs, and the winner is determined by cumulative points.

Good luck to all the teams out there that made the playoffs!