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Last offseason, I took a look at the viability of stacking in seasonal fantasy leagues: https://establishtherun.com/deep-dive-stacking-in-season-long-fantasy/. The quick takeaways from that article were:
- If your league has a significant payout for first place (at least 25% of prize pool), always lean towards stacking a QB with a WR/TE when possible.
- “Double stacking” (QB with two pass catchers) is likely a good strategy, especially in “top-heavy payout” formats like large season-long tournaments. Note that when a QB significantly outperforms his ADP, there are almost always multiple pass catchers on his team that do the same.
- Consider being willing to reach at least 1-1.5 rounds for a QB if you’ve selected a pass catcher of his in the first eight rounds — especially in tournaments where outlier outcomes are more heavily rewarded.
- We prefer drafting the mid-tier of quarterbacks, but if you do decide to draft a QB early, it should almost certainly involve a high-upside stack.
- Medium and Big hits matter the most — a player outperforming his ADP minimally does not typically make stacking partners good picks. While it’s debatable whether upside is knowable entering a season, a stack makes more sense when the range of potential outcomes for the pair is wider — think younger or unproven players, new coaches, perceived injury risk, significant changes to teammates, or other variables the market can’t reasonably be certain about.
- Stacking doesn’t have to be limited to pass catchers. One of the biggest advantages to stacking is the simplest: If the offense rolls, everybody rolls. Thus we can extend stacks to any pairs of teammates, although QB-Pass Catcher is the priority.
Those takeaways are pertinent and well-researched, but it’s still another story to figure out how to implement those concepts in real time in actual drafts. Thankfully, we have some excellent best ball data from the Underdog Best Ball Mania tournament, which allows us to:
- Test if the theories from my original stacking article hold up in a competitive environment.
- Come away with a more concrete gameplan for stacking in drafts.
PART ONE: Is stacking beneficial?
The first question to answer is whether stacking is helpful when applied broadly. To do this, I’ve broken down the regular season scores of 34,008 teams from Underdog’s Best Ball Tournament. From there, I’ve estimated how often a team would win their league (score in the top 8.3% of total scores) or finish top three (score in the top 25% of total scores). The reason for this methodology is twofold:
- Arguably the biggest skill in Underdog’s Best Ball tournament structure is advancing teams out of the initial regular season round (Weeks 1-13) at a higher rate than average.