Earlier today on Twitter I was saying that I like the idea of a Cam Newton/Kelvin Benjamin stack for the second half of the season. My reasons for wanting to stack these players are as follows:
- Increase variance by stacking players from the same team.
- Favorable schedule going down the stretch.
- Reasonable price to acquire Cam based on his uneven performance to date.
- Cam Newton’s sensitivity to strength of schedule.
Let’s start with the idea of variance. By stacking the players you’re polarizing your range of outcomes for the rest of the season. If Cam does well then KB is also going to probably do well. If Cam sucks (but isn’t benched or injured) then KB is also going to suck probably. When you’re going into the fantasy playoffs it’s not that different than entering a DFS GPP where there aren’t any prizes for a good lineup. There are only prizes for a great lineup. You need to beat teams that are really strong. That lesson actually took me a few seasons to learn. I used to draft a strong-ish/deep team that could roll through bye weeks. Then I would get into the playoffs and have that same deep team that carried me through bye weeks end up disappointing me because it wasn’t top heavy enough. Eventually I figured out that I needed to swap out my depth for upside and then my results in the playoffs improved. The nice thing about stacking KB/Cam is that right now neither of them is valued as if they’re a really top option. But let’s look at how they could be top options.
Here’s the schedule from the Buy Low Machine. You can see that CAR has a string of favorable matchups for WRs going down the stretch. In fact SEA is the last remaining really difficult matchup (the colors represent an opponent adjusted number, so SEA gets credit for limiting some really good WRs like Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas, and Jordy Nelson).
Then let’s look at Cam Newton’s sensitivity to matchups by using the Game Splits app.
In games against bottom half passing defenses Cam produces like a top tier QB. People on Twitter asked if that’s normal for QBs. They’ll actually vary in how matchup sensitive they are but the top QBs (Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees) are usually pretty matchup-proof while the second tier is a little more matchup sensitive. In any event, we know Cam has a great schedule so I think it’s reasonable to assume that if he stays healthy he could finish the year with some big games.
When I’m making trades for stretch runs my general strategy is to look at each lineup spot and ask how I can get a very top option in that slot. Then I make whatever trades I can to start collecting those players. That means probably either a great player with a decent matchup or a good player with an awesome matchup. Right now I would look to add Kelvin Benjamin, Jordy Nelson, AJ Green (probably try to get a discount and then pray that he’s healthy down the stretch), Julio Jones, and Keenan Allen (again, hopefully discounted for his lack of production to date). I realize it’s not possible to add all of these players and it sounds easy to say just go get them, but what I mean is that you can just look at your lineup and then make any trade that involves you getting one of those pieces. There’s no reason to hold any depth back because depth protects you from downside, which is something you should increasingly care less about every week. If you still need your depth to actually make the playoffs then you can’t really go trade away guys that will start for you in order to acquire a hurt AJ Green. But if you have a decent shot of getting into the playoffs then that’s the time to start looking at ways you can increase your range of outcomes.