DFS Terminology — What is Stacking?
If you have played daily fantasy sports for any amount of time, you have heard the term stacking. Stacks, mini-stacks, contrarian stacks. With baseball season in full swing, it seems like you can't discuss daily fantasy without using the word stack.
Stacking in daily fantasy sports is simply rostering multiple players from the same team/game.
This article will look at the different types of stacks and how they relate to each sport.
Stacking in Daily Fantasy Baseball
Stacking is most prevalent in MLB. The idea behind is relatively simple. You stack a team that you expect to score a lot of runs (good offense, terrible pitcher, good park/weather, or some combinations of these factors). And if that team does score a lot of runs, your fantasy team will likely be surging up the scoreboard. If your players hits an RBI double, you are not only getting points for the double and the RBI, but you are also getting points for the run that scores (assuming the player that scores is part of your stack).
When a stack goes off it is a beautiful thing: hit after hit with points for both RBI and runs coming on the same play sometimes.
FanDuel limits you to four players from a single team, so you are forced to leave out over half the hitters. Most people try to go for sequential stacks (guys that hit after one another in the batting order), but you can differentiate yourself by skipping a guy in favor of a guy separated in the order that you believe has a better matchup.
DraftKings allows you to use up to six batters from a single team, so you can grab the majority of a team's lineup if you really want to.
The term "mini-stack" gets thrown around a lot. There is no set number of players that make up a mini-stack, but most people are talking about three players or less from a given team when they use the term.
Stacking in Daily Fantasy Hockey
NHL is a close second to MLB in terms of the viability of stacking. The benefit of stacking in daily fantasy hockey comes from taking players that are on the ice together. The idea is that if one guy scores, the other could pick up an assist on the goal (and a + if you are playing on a +/- site). So now instead of getting three points for a goal, you are getting five. If you stack a full line, you could be getting seven points.
You can stack an even-strength line or a power play unit. You are simply looking for players that will be on the ice together in goal-scoring situations. If you are right about that line or PP unit and they score, you get will likely get huge payoff: multiple players getting points from 1 goal.
Stacking in Daily Fantasy Football and Basketball
Stacking is far less common (and effective) in both NFL and NBA. You can pair a QB and WR in NFL, but that doesn't really fit the general meaning of the term stack.
The one type of stack you will see in both NBA and NFL is a game stack. In these two sports, points are coming at a constant rate, especially NBA. The pace of the game matters. More possessions/plays = more fantasy points. So if you can find a game where you expect a ton of plays/possessions/real life points, it makes sense to stack the game, by taking players from both teams.
If you are right about the pace of the game, every one of the players you use from the game will have more opportunities to score fantasy points, which is obviously really good for you.
When You Should Be Stacking in Daily Fantasy Sports
The obvious drawback to stacking is that you are putting all your proverbial eggs in one basket. It is great when it works, but a bad stack almost always results in a losing lineup.
For this reason, stacking is generally considering more of a tournament strategy. A good stack can get you into the top 20%, which will put you into the money. In a cash game, the top 20% pays the same as the top 50%, so there is no added benefit to shooting for the top (which a stack inherently does). Since there is no real payoff for a successful stack, exposing yourself to the big downside of a stack is an unnecessary risk. And even the best stacks can and will fail sometimes. So leave the stacking for tournaments.