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This article is taken from the 2023 Footballguys Best Ball Guide. To download the full 60+ page guide for free, click here.
Stacking has become a polarizing discussion over the last few years, but it’s the best way to give yourself an edge in tournaments. Stacking refers to drafting a quarterback and pass-catchers from the same team. This could be as simple as drafting a quarterback and his perceived WR1 or drafting a quarterback and a few of his weapons, informally referred to as “super stacking.” In doing so, you are maximizing your weekly upside.
The counterpoint to this strategy would be that you are also setting yourself up for a team with a chance of being awful. But as discussed earlier [in the Footballguys Best Ball Guide], you only try to place first in tournament pools to advance your teams. There is no prize for second place. Teams who stacked Jalen Hurts with A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Dallas Goedert, and Miles Sanders had a great time last year. However, stacking Russell Wilson with Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Albert Okwuegbunam, and Javonte Williams would have left drafters feeling less than pleased.
You’ll often hear Best Ball drafters talk about how “player takes” are unimportant. While it certainly helps to have a few good player takes, roster construction is more crucial. You also have to accept that sometimes you will be wrong. By stacking rosters, you are increasing your probability of being right.
Let’s go back to the Broncos and Eagles example from earlier. Both teams were projected to be high-powered offenses this year. Putting all of your chips in the Eagles would have given you plenty of spike weeks throughout the season and likely helped your team to advance out of your qualifier. Going all-in on the Broncos probably didn’t work, but it doesn’t mean the process was wrong. Now, what if you didn’t stack but drafted Jalen Hurts and some of the pass-catchers from Denver? Although Hurts finished as the per-game QB1 in scoring, the dead weight from the Broncos players would have dragged down your weekly performances and likely kept you out of first place.
So let’s look at three hypothetical strategies with this pool of players:
- Stacking the Eagles
- Stacking the Broncos
- Drafting Hurts and Broncos' weapons
In hindsight, stacking the Broncos may look like the “worst” strategy. But regardless of the outcome, the process was correct. You constructed a roster with a high range of outcomes if the Broncos' offense lived up to our preseason projections. Drafting Hurts and the Broncos’ weapons is actually the worst strategy out of the three. That doesn’t mean it couldn’t work, but it gives you the lowest probability of advancing. Rather than betting on one offense being good, that strategy requires both of them to hit.
When referring to “maximizing weekly upside,” it’s much simpler than it sounds. When you have a quarterback and wide receiver on your roster, and they connect for a touchdown, you get a lot of points. A 60-yard passing touchdown with a stacked QB-WR comes out to 18.4 points on its own. If your stacked receiver has one of those 200-yard multi-touchdown games, you can see how quickly those points start to add up.
As for how to build stacks in Underdog, that’s where things can get tricky. As much as you want to correlate quarterbacks and weapons, you don’t want to bleed too much value by reaching in drafts. In years past, you’d draft your wide receivers early and hope to get the coordinating quarterbacks in later rounds. But now, with Jalen Hurts, Patrick Mahomes II, Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, Lamar Jackson, and Justin Fields all going in the top-four rounds, strategy has changed dramatically. If you want to stack Travis Kelce with Mahomes, Stefon Diggs with Allen, Ja’Marr Chase with Burrow, or A.J. Brown with Hurts, you need a bit of luck on your side. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find discount stacks later in drafts.
Last year, for instance, you could have drafted Trevor Lawrence along with Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, and Evan Engram and had an elite stack for minimal investment. Tua Tagovailoa, Tyreek Hill, and Jaylen Waddle were all affordable last year and put up elite numbers when healthy. Identifying those discount stacks in 2023 is a great way to give yourself an edge over the field. But as Best Ball finds its way more and more into the mainstream, drafting stacks will only get more difficult.
In summary, stacking:
- Increases season-long volatility and weekly upside.
- Does not always work, but sets you up for a high-end range of outcomes.
- Is more difficult in 2023 with elite quarterbacks having high ADP.
- Give you a considerable edge over the field if you can identify late-round discount stacks.
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