Best Ball stacking strategy: How, when, and why you should stack

What is stacking in fantasy football, and why should fantasy managers implement the strategy in their Best Ball drafts?

Over the past few years, best ball has become more popular amongst fantasy football players. It provides an avenue for managers to draft months before seasonal leagues have their drafts. While the two are similar in many ways, drafting a best ball roster isn’t as simple as just taking the best players. You need to maximize weekly upside. One of the best ways to do that is by stacking. What is the strategy of stacking and why should you prioritize doing it in fantasy football best ball drafts?

What is a stacking strategy in Best Ball?

Before we get into why you should stack, for those just getting into fantasy football, you may be asking, “What is stacking?” The concept of stacking is quite simple — you draft at least one pass-catcher on the same NFL team as your quarterback. It could be as basic as drafting a quarterback and his WR1. Or you could draft a quarterback, two of his wide receivers, and his tight end.

In best ball fantasy football drafts, you’re drafting two or three quarterbacks every time. Ideally, you would pair each one of them with at least one wide receiver or tight end.

Should you stack in Best Ball?

Fantasy football, when you really break it down, is about predicting the future. When we draft our teams, we are predicting what players we think will perform the best. When we make pickups or trades, we are predicting that the players we’re getting will be better than the players we’re giving up. When we set our lineups, we’re predicting what players will score the most fantasy points that particular week.

In any scenario where the outcome is uncertain, the goal is to swing the odds as heavily in your favor as possible. That’s where stacking comes in.

Every season, the best players largely come from the best offenses. Of course, players on bad offenses will have great seasons. But, again, this is about probability. The majority of the top players are on offenses that score the most points. That means, in fantasy football best ball drafts, we want as many of those players as possible.

The first thing we need to accept is that we are going to be wrong. We will be wrong about what offenses are good. We will be wrong about what players will be good. That’s part of the game. The goal is to be right more than we are wrong and to swing the scales enough in our favor to win our leagues.

Stacking increases our odds of being right

When you draft a player, you are hoping that the player’s offense is a good one. When that offense has a good week, odds are your player did as well. By stacking pass-catchers with their quarterback, you need to get less correct.

For example, say you draft the quarterback and two wide receivers from one team. Whenever that quarterback has a big game, chances are at least one, if not both of your wide receivers will as well. If that quarterback throws three touchdowns, you may end up having four or five of them on your team.

If you have a quarterback on one team, a wide receiver on another team, and a second wide receiver on a third team, those are three different things you need to get correct. By implementing the stacking strategy in your best ball drafts, if you get one thing correct — that team has a good offense — you’ve increased your odds at getting multiple players correct.

Stacking maximizes weekly upside

In addition to limiting what we need to get correct, stacking raises our team’s weekly ceiling. This goes for both best ball and seasonal fantasy football formats.

If none of your pass-catchers are paired with your quarterback, every time one of them catches a touchdown, a team other than yours is benefiting. When you have the pass-catchers stacked with your quarterback, you get all the points. Every time your quarterback throws a touchdown to your wide receiver or tight end, you gain on every other team in your league.

In best ball leagues, there aren’t head-to-head matches. You just need to score the most points over the course of the season. If you have two sets of QB-WR-WR/TE stacks, for example, there will be, in theory, numerous instances over the course of the season where you’re doubling up on production.

I know what you may be thinking, though. I’ve only discussed the positives. What about the negatives? Well, that’s the beauty of best ball. Since your highest scoring players are automatically inserted into your lineup, the spike weeks are likely to be more beneficial than the down weeks are detrimental.

When your stacks have bad games, you will still have plenty of other players that can enter your lineup and mitigate the damage. If your quarterback only throws one touchdown in a given week, odds are the pass-catchers you stacked with him didn’t do so well either. That’s okay (as long as it doesn’t happen too often). Your non-stacked players can pick up the slack.

Should you handcuff in Best Ball?

In fantasy football drafts, you should always be drafting handcuffs…just not your own. When you handcuff your own running backs, you are capping your own team’s upside.

With two backs on the same team, it’s going to be difficult for both to provide fantasy value any given week. You also hamstring your seasonal upside because you can’t get both players correct. For your handcuff to have value, the starter would have to go down. Well, if that happens, you just lost your starting running back. Even if the handcuff can produce at the exact same level as the starter, that’s still dedicating two roster spots to one position.

In best ball, it’s even more problematic because you can’t make any moves during the season. Seasonal fantasy football leagues (for the most part) involve trying to win one matchup against one opponent each week. In best ball, you’re trying to beat 11 other managers over the course of an entire season. Playing it safe is a great way to come in fourth. You don’t get paid to come in fourth.

Instead of drafting handcuffs for your own running backs, draft the high-upside handcuffs for other managers’ running backs. That way, if they lose their starting running back, you gain an asset without it costing one of your own.

Go into a Best Ball fantasy football draft and give the stacking strategy a shot!

Now that you understand the benefits of stacking, if you’ve never tried it before, give it a whirl. Just be careful not to overdo it.

Your goal in every fantasy football best ball draft should be to have at least one stack. With that said, you are still at the mercy of a draft room. Stacking is beneficial, but don’t go passing on superior players just to force a stack onto your roster.

The beauty of best ball is you can draft as many teams as you want, whenever you want, and once the draft is over, you don’t have to do a thing all season. There will be best ball drafts where you just aren’t able to stack at all. At the same time, there will be other best ball drafts where you get every stack you want. The more drafts you do, the better you will get at figuring out how to maneuver through a draft room in order to get the players you want.

Ultimately, best ball is a numbers game. Some of your teams will be terrible. It’s going to happen. But if you do enough drafts and implement strategies like stacking, hopefully, the majority of them turn out the way you want, and at the end of the season, you’ve cashed more than you haven’t.

Jason Katz is a Fantasy Analyst at Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter: @jasonkatz13 and find more of his work here.

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