Whether you’re playing at FanDuel or DraftKings, you’ve no doubt seen the huge volume of daily fantasy baseball contests. From large-field guaranteed prize pool (GPP) tournaments with $2 buy-ins to high-stakes head-to-heads with entry fees soaring past $10,000, the 2015 MLB season is officially under way!
It’s a great time to dust off your fantasy draft playbook and take advantage of the excitement.
One of the most polarizing draft tactics used by fantasy baseball veterans is stacking. Some swear by it. Others criticize it. But one thing is certain: it can’t be ignored. A lot of DFS players with winning track records use stacking to great effect.
Below, we’ll take a close look at stacking in daily fantasy baseball. If you’re not sure whether to use the strategy, the following discussion will help you decide. It will also help you avoid mistakes that might otherwise cause you to become a cautionary tale to other DFSers.
Fantasy Baseball Draft Strategy: Stacking Explained
Let’s begin with a definition…
Stacking is the practice of drafting multiple players from a single team. For example, you might draft Jered Weaver, Mike Trout and Albert Pujols from the Angels. Or Neil Walker, Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte from the Pirates.
The idea is that you get to leverage the players’ efforts and momentum.
If the team is doing well offensively, you stand to earn extra points based on their collective performance. I’ll give you an example of how that works in the next section.
There is, of course, a potential downside to stacking. If the team from which you’ve drafted multiple players gets pummeled, so too does your roster’s overall score. To that end, a bad stack can – and usually will – destroy your chances of winning a contest.
Reasons To Stack In Daily Fantasy MLB Contests – The Good
The main reason to stack in fantasy MLB is leverage. You benefit from the individual production of each player on your roster. But you also benefit from their collective production.
For instance, let’s say the Braves are playing the Marlins tonight. After checking the latest forecast from Vegas oddsmakers, you’re confident the Marlins are going to crush the Braves. So you decide to stack the former team. You draft Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich and Dee Gordon.
Suppose Stanton comes up to the plate and hits a triple. That’s worth 3 points at FanDuel. Next, Yelich comes up and hits a single. That’s another point. Then, Gordon steps to the plate and clubs the first pitch over the wall. His home run is good for another 4 points.
By hitting a home run, however, Gordon also brings in Stanton and Yelich. You’d earn 2 extra points for their runs. You’d also earn 2 extra points for Gordon’s RBIs.
That’s how you benefit from a good stack in fantasy baseball. You get to take advantage of the players’ combined efforts. That gives you a lot of upside.
Stacking Hitters In GPP Baseball Tournaments
Stacking is fairly common across the entire spectrum of fantasy MLB contests. You’ll see team owners using it to roster players in head-to-heads, double-ups, 10-player leagues and large-field tournaments.
But the tactic delivers the biggest impact in GPPs. Stacking is mainly a GPP strategy for baseball.
The reason is simple. You need a significant amount of upside to win a large-field event. The prize pool for a GPP is usually split among the top 10% to 20% of the field. Finishing at the top requires a standout performance.
Stacking can be an effective strategy to that end. If the team you’ve stacked goes off, you stand to rack up extra points from the synergistic efforts of the players you’ve added to your lineup.
You don’t need as much upside potential in a double-up. Remember, half the field gets paid. You can play it relatively safe and still have a better-than-average chance of cashing (assuming you use the draft strategy tips found on this site). Stacking can be effective in such cases. But it’s unnecessary and may present too much risk.
Arguments Against Stacking: The Need For Caution (The Bad)
Although stacking increases your upside, it also increases your downside. An unproductive stack will severely hamper your roster’s overall score. Even a remarkable performance by your pitcher is unlikely to save you.
One of the criticisms about stacking hitters is that an opposing pitcher can easily wipe out your chances of winning. A pitcher who’s having a great night on the mound could manage to hold your hitters at bay. Not only will your players fail to generate points, but they’ll actually accrue negative points from their outs (if you’re playing at FanDuel. DraftKings does not deduct points for outs).
In a way, a stack is a bet against the opposing team’s pitcher rather than a bet on your hitters.
Another criticism of stacking (according to some DFSers) is that it’s a lazy alternative to researching hitters. Critics argue that rostering multiple players from the same team precludes a lot of the intense research and number-crunching that has been a mainstay of fantasy baseball.
Frankly, there’s some truth to that critique. A lot of fantasy MLB players definitely use stacking to avoid the hard work involved with building a solid lineup. Rather than reviewing each player’s stats, evaluating matchups and reviewing lefty-righty splits, they just choose 3 or 4 guys from the same team and hope for the best.
Yes, it’s a lazy approach. But those DFSers are the ones who are least likely to do well with stacking.
The veteran fantasy team owners who stack and win are the ones who roll up their sleeves and do the hard research. For them, stacking isn’t a lazy draft tactic. It’s a way to gain upside.
Stacking Situations To Avoid In The 2015 MLB Season (The Ugly)
There are some situations for which stacking can pose a huge risk. The good news is that they’re easy to sidestep if you know what to look for.
You want to avoid the Kershaw Effect. That’s where an elite pitcher locks down your hitters and thereby hamstrings your roster’s score.
It’s easy to avoid that predicament. Just refrain from stacking hitters scheduled to face guys like Felix Hernandez (Mariners), David Price (Tigers), Corey Kluber (Indians) and of course Kershaw. All of them led the field in strikeouts last season. Stacking against them is a recipe for disaster.
Also, avoid creating heavy stacks in cash games, such as double-ups and head-to-heads. The heavier the stack, the greater the downside. And there’s no reason to take on that much risk in contests that pay out to half the field.
Another situation to avoid is stacking against your pitcher. That’s simple self-sabotage. For example, let’s say Cincinnati is playing Pittsburgh. If you’re going to roster Johnny Cueto, pitcher for the Reds, don’t stack hitters from the Pirates. If Cueto has a good night, your stack will suffer. If your stack has a good night, Cueto will suffer. Why cannibalize your roster’s points?
That might seem intuitive. But you’d be surprised by how often daily fantasy baseball players fall into that trap.
Fantasy MLB Stacks: How Big Is Too Big?
Size matters when it comes to stacking in fantasy baseball. A stack can technically range from two to ten players from the same MLB team. Practically speaking, most stacks range from 3 to 5 players.
Part of the reason is due to the rules implemented by FanDuel and DraftKings, the two biggest daily fantasy sites. Both sites have taken measures to limit the extent to which stacking can be used. Both require you to draft players from at least three teams. FanDuel also requires that you draft no more than four players from a single team (though that rule is redundant given the first requirement).
At DraftKings, the rules say you can pick 6 players from the same team. That means you could presumably create a 6-player stack. The question is, how big is too big?
The key thing to remember is that, again, the heavier your stack, the greater its potential downside. If you have a 3-player stack that underperforms, you can still finish in a winning position if your pitcher dominates his opposing team. If you have an 8-player stack that underperforms, not even Kershaw will be able to make up the difference.
Four-player stacks offer a good middle ground. They give you plenty of upside potential without weighing you down with an unnecessary amount of risk. You can read a good article that analyzed the $3 moonshot at DraftKings and the winning line-ups. The short answer is that smaller sized stacks (3-4) combined with the right group of batters to fill in the rest were the winning formulas in the big GPP’s.
Better Results With Smart Fantasy Baseball Stacking
Here’s the bottom line: stacking can work well. But it’s not a substitute for research. If you want to win, you still need to roll up your sleeves and do the hard work.
But rest assured, many fantasy MLB players won’t invest the time or effort. To them, stacking is a way to avoid researching players. They might win a contest here and there, but are likely to lose over the long run. You, on the other hand, armed with hard data, will have another valuable tool at your disposal for obtaining valuable upside against your competition.
Visit FanDuel and DraftKings to take part in the 2015 MLB season. Plenty of DFSers are going to rake in life-changing winnings this year. If you want to join them, now’s the time to jump in and participate.
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