Stacking is a strategy that everyone is aware of but few people understand the logic behind. Stacking is when you select multiple hitters from a single team for your lineup. This could be anywhere from two to five hitters. Although it can be a very strong strategy in general, it is a significantly better tactic on FanDuel than DraftKings. This is due to a variety of factors and by the end of this section we will have explained them all. Before we examine the differences between the two sites though, let’s analyze why stacking is a good strategy in the first place.
First, we want to clarify that each player you pick for your team stack must have the research factors in their favor. We are in no way advocating choosing players that don’t have favorable matchups just because their teammates do. When all the players in a team stack have the research factors in their favor, you are maximizing your upside without increasing your downside. If you don’t strictly pick good hitters for the stack, then your upside is obviously reduced by the bad hitters you forced into the lineup. Let’s examine why team stacking doesn’t technically increase your downside, but why our psychological biases trick us into thinking it does. We’ve all heard the old adage, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” This is good advice if you are building a stock portfolio for sustainable growth, or if you are drafting a season long fantasy team and you want consistent production all year. On an individual day however, putting all of your eggs in one basket is a good move. If all of your hitters on the team stack fail to get on base, they were no more likely to fail in their individual at-bats than another hitter on another team (once again assuming that all the hitters had the research factors in their favor to a similar degree). There is no reason to expect a hitter on another team to outperform the hitter who is a part of the team you are stacking just because he plays for a different team. He certainly might perform better, but it’s not because of the team stack. The most common argument people make for a team stack increasing your downside is that the pitcher you stacked against could perform well and make it hard on all of your hitters. While we agree that all MLB pitchers are professionals and are capable of having good starts, if you’re targeting a bad pitcher you’re targeting a bad pitcher–it’s that simple. Any other hitter is just as likely, if not more likely, to be in a situation where the opposing pitcher is shutting down the lineup. Diversifying yourself by picking hitters on many different teams might be comforting, but it isn’t technically reducing the chances that they all go 0-4 at the dish. Additionally, since our goal is to try and win GPPs, we shouldn’t be focused on a misconstrued idea of downside reduction. Sure, all four of them probably won’t face a pitcher that is in a groove, but we aren’t trying to spread out our risk to achieve mediocre production. Instead, we should be focusing on upside, which team stacking provides better than any other strategy in DFS.
When a player does not record an out in his at-bat, he is creating an additional at-bat for his team. The only way that could be taken away is in the event of a double play or if he is tagged out on the basepaths. This idea of creating additional at-bats is the key to the logic behind team stacking. Baseball is the only fantasy sport in which the offensive success of one player directly benefits everyone else on the team. If everyone in the lineup continuously failed to record an out with their at-bats, the team would hit forever and score an infinite number of runs. This will obviously never happen, but a lesser version of it occurs all the time, and that situation is what we are after with our team stacks. With the stack, the additional at-bats are positively affecting your lineup as much as possible. When a team is badly knocking around a particular pitcher, the person who stacked that team will likely win their DFS leagues. This is due to the difference in probability of acquiring the same amount of points with a team stack and without one. The number of individual events that must happen in a certain fashion are much greater when all of your hitters are on separate teams.
If you pick a single hitter on a team, he can only be the guy with the RBI(s), or the guy with the run on any given play, unless he hits a home run. If you have stacked a team, you could have the guy who scores the run and the guy who picked up the RBIs on the same play. To explain this using numbers, if you pick four hitters on separate teams and they don’t hit home runs, more total runs must be created to score as many points as a team stack.
To show you this, we will use the example of four hitters registering a double, one RBI, and a run. Let’s say each player hits a double in the first inning. Each of the individual hitters must have had a guy on base that they could drive in, and they must also be driven in by someone hitting after them. With the four players on unique teams, you must rely on four players to get on base before all four of your hitters. You must also rely on four other hitters behind them to drive them all in. At least two runs have to be created for that one player to register a double, an RBI, and a run. The minimum amount of runs that have to be created for the desired stat lines to occur is eight, and at least 12 batters have to reach base–barring an unusual occurrence like a series of wild pitches and sacrifice flies. If you have four hitters batting near each other in one lineup, the minimum number of runs drops to five, and the minimum number of baserunners drops to six. They can all hit doubles consecutively, which means that only two players (one before and one after) have to get hits for the stat lines to occur.
It is obviously more probable for the second situation to occur than the first, even if all things are equal. But generally if the pitcher is giving up doubles it’s a sign that he’s struggling, and therefore all things are not equal. The next batter in your stack has a better chance to succeed than research initially suggested, because the pitcher is probably now throwing from the stretch, and he is potentially rattled as he didn’t have his best stuff in the last at-bat. If he continues giving up hits, he may end up getting pulled early, and the team will be sending out a long reliever to try and get through the game.
Statistically speaking, these long relief pitchers are not as good as the average reliever, and the hitters that are a part of the stack are about to have a better matchup for the duration of the game than a team who didn’t rough up the starting pitcher.
Some people may argue that if you pick four hitters on separate teams, you have a better chance of having a player that is a part of an offensive explosion, and they are technically right, but they will still lose. Any team with a decent matchup will be stacked by multiple people in DFS, and if you are only taking one player from their stack, they will beat you if the team scores a lot of runs. The offensive explosion will serve you detrimentally if you have just one hitter from the lineup.
Our goal is to take first place in big leagues, so the individual hitter on a team scoring a lot of runs isn’t helping us because other entries in the league have gained a bigger advantage. If we never stack an offense, we can never be the beneficiary of a team batting around on a starter and facing bad relievers for the rest of the game. Our team’s success becomes dependent on many individual events that are independent of each other, rather than a few events whose probability of occurring are directly tied to each other.
In DFS, you want the result of one event to increase or decrease the probability of the next event. Mathematically, this increases your chances of ending up in first or last, which is exactly what you want. If you end up in first half the time and last half the time, you are very rich. If you end up somewhere in the middle every day (which would be anywhere from the 90th percentile and down) you have accomplished nothing, and are probably losing money. Not every night will feature an offensive explosion, and we aren’t saying you can’t win without a team stack, but you increase your probability of winning when you have a good one. Now that we have established that stacking will benefit you in the long run, let’s examine why it is better to employ the team stack strategy on FanDuel rather than on DraftKings.
The first reason that FanDuel is better for stacking is that FanDuel doesn’t adjust player prices according to their matchups nearly as much as DraftKings does. When a team faces a terrible pitcher on DraftKings, the prices of the entire team will be inflated to the point where it is sometimes not even worth picking them. A guy who hits .270 with mediocre power will suddenly cost over $5,000 just because his team is in a great situation. On FanDuel, that player may not even experience a price change at all. The only real exception is when a team goes to Coors field, and in this case FanDuel usually adjusts their prices accordingly. You can see how not adjusting prices for matchups would benefit a team stack because you can now get a bunch of hitters at their normal price against a really bad pitcher. On DraftKings, you might pay $4,000 more than what it would usually cost to get those same four hitters. The lack of price adjustment on FanDuel rewards players who do in-depth research, while DraftKings neutralizes the research to help new players have more success. This is one reason that it is much easier to be a long term profitable MLB player on FanDuel. If you do your research properly, you will find the best plays that don’t cost any more than they usually do on FanDuel, whereas it is often much harder to find good value on DraftKings. The differences in their algorithms are rarely discussed among the DFS community, but we have studied the matter and conclusively determined that FanDuel rewards good research much more in baseball.
The next reason that FanDuel is better for team stacking is that the value of runs, RBIs, and walks is significantly higher. On DraftKings, all three of these stats give you two points. On FanDuel, a walk is worth three points, a run is 3.2, and an RBI is 3.5. If you predict a team will score a lot of runs, these differences are absolutely critical to understand. The baseline stat in baseball is a single. Both sites value this equally at three points. From here, DraftKings values most other stats less than FanDuel. If a team is going to bat around on a pitcher, he likely has bad command. This should result in a fair amount of walks. The relief pitcher that comes in is also more likely to allow walks than the relievers that the team would use if it were a close game in the late innings. The extra point for the walks will add up if your team stack were to each draw one throughout the course of the game. Of course, the most crucial factor is the value of runs and RBIs. If your hitters on a team stack are all getting on base throughout the game, they are almost certainly collecting runs and RBIs. If all of your hitters on different teams are getting on base every time, there is no guarantee that they ever record an RBI or a run. A team stack ensures that if all your hitters are getting hits like your research said they would, you will be rewarded with runs and RBIs. And if you stacked on FanDuel, the value of those runs and RBIs is about 60% greater than if you stacked on DraftKings.