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Advanced NHL DFS: Line Stacking

We continue our breakdown of advanced NHL DFS. In this section, we look at line stacking, with definitions and some strategy.

Philadelphia Flyers center Claude Giroux, center Sean Couturier and right wing Jakub Voracek on the bench late in the third period of win against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Wells Fargo Center. Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

In daily fantasy hockey, like in most things, getting the fundamentals down is integral toward laying a foundation of knowledge to build from as you progress as a player. We go over line stacking, with a definition and how to approach using them in everyday strategy.

Line Stacking

Strategy

If you’ve made it this far, you don’t need me to outline what line stacking is for you. It’s hockey, you should have a general idea of what this strategy entails. So obviously each team has four skating lines and we can pick and choose which ones we’d like to stack in our lineups. So let’s get into it.

On most DFS websites, you’ll be able to fit in two full line stacks in your lineup. If we’re talking about DraftKings — which is the site you should be using to be quite honest — then you have two center slots, three forward slots and a utility slot to work with. The UTIL slot is actually huge, because you’ll find that some forwards play out of position, whether it be a center on the wing or vice versa. The UTIL slot also helps us work in difficult power-play stacks that feature, say, two centers, two wings and a defenseman. There are other combinations we’ll cover as well.

Let’s start with the basic line stack of two wings and a center. Usually if we target the traditional line, we’re going to want to look at guys in the top-six forward group. Your first lines and second lines, your scoring lines, are going to be the ones to get in for GPPs. These will give us the highest expected fantasy point outcome — a high ceiling. The issue we’ll run into with high-priced stacks is, well, the price. If we’re spending that much on three skaters, we’re relying on them for the majority of our points on that night. If the line goes cold, we’re screwed. If the line goes off, we’re in great shape. That’s the inherent risk we’re going to have to take on in GPPs.

Lineup construction

So this would be a lot easier if we have some prices to work with, but the NHL isn’t back until the beginning of August. So we’re going to have to use some hypotheticals to craft our line stacks. Let’s say the hottest team in the NHL before the break — the Philadelphia Flyers — are taking on a weak opponent like my New Jersey Devils. We know that the Flyers first line of Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and Sean Couturier will most likely be popular if it’s a shallow slate. Because we can get some savings and lower ownership on Philly’s second line, let’s go with James van Riemsdyk, Kevin Hayes and Travis Konecny.

If you want to mix in a hybrid power-play stack, the Flyers also give us a really nice option. Giroux, Voracek, Hayes and Konecny will all be on the PP1 for Philly. That means we get exposure to 23 of the first and second lines, plus 4/5 exposure to the PP1 in a great matchup. If we want to go full-blown PP1 stack, we can throw in Ivan Provorov as well. Generally, when we go with a full PP stack, we can fill out the lineup with one-off plays and a safe goaltender to ensure that we don’t completely STB if the Flyers power play is held in check. Even so, we have great exposure to the top two lines.

Here are a few other combinations to consider when it comes to line stacking:

Strong first line — cheap bottom-six line

This combo will allow us to pay up at goalie and find a little bit of balance throughout the rest of our lineup.

Pick 2 middle-six lines in strong matchups

This is what we’d look for if we were going with a more balanced lineup approach.

Pick 1-2 bottom-six lines in strong matchups

This is a little bit like an iteration of the classic “Stars and Scrubs” lineup approach. We pay down for 1-2 low-owned third or fourth lines who may be in a great position to succeed. We then use the savings to pay up at goaltender and for a few stud options — possibly one-off plays who you think can really pop on their own.