One of the first things you realize when learning to play MLB DFS is that it is not simply a game of choosing individual players you think will do well. Due to the nature of baseball, stacking multiple players from the same offense, as many as allowed by the DFS platform in most cases, is imperative to success in MLB DFS tournaments.
Yes, you will occasionally see an unstacked lineup happen to take down a tournament, but this is almost always based on the luck of an inexperienced DFS player. You need to be perceptive to note the differences between rules and exceptions. Chasing outliers can be a dive down a rabbit hole. In studying the lineups that all of the top DFS pros make for MLB DFS tournaments, you will generally see at least a four or five-man stack at the heart of just about each and every one.
Choosing which stacks to use in your lineups is arguably the most prominent choice to make in MLB DFS outside of pitcher selection. A question a newer MLB DFS player would invariably ask is, “how do I choose which stacks to use?” Of course, you would want to choose stacks from offenses you expect to do well. Still, how do you ascertain which will do well, and what other factors should you consider?
I’ll go into some critical factors for stack selection in MLB DFS tournaments to help you develop or build upon your MLB DFS process.
Vegas Implied Run Total
The easiest first step is to look at the implied run totals of every team and see which ones are the highest. Implied run totals can be obtained by looking at the total for the entire game. You then compare it to the run line for each team to see how many runs Vegas expects each team to score.
If you see an implied total in the fives, or better yet, the sixes, that is an exceptional team to target for your stacks. Anything over four is decent. Below four, and it is probably not the best spot. Below three, dismal.
Vegas Home Run Props
In MLB DFS, home runs are the most important offensive statistic and the best way to rack up DFS points and win tournaments. This is particularly true on FanDuel due to the nature of their scoring system. All offenses are not created equal in how they achieve their production. Teams with power are generally preferable to those that string together hits without much pop when it comes to DFS upside.
For this reason, it is helpful to look at the Vegas home run props for each player to see which offenses come with a lot of power. That is unless you already know this by knowing the players well. Even if you have a good grasp of which players have pop and which don’t, the props will vary significantly based on ballpark factors, weather, and opposing pitcher.
Not only can home run props help you to establish which offenses are the most powerful on any given slate. They can also help you pick out the individual hitters you choose to put in your stacks based on their home run probability.
Opposing Starting Pitcher And Bullpen
The quality of the opposing starting pitcher and the opposing bullpen is baked into the Vegas lines and totals. Still, it can be helpful to make your own judgments based on who an offense is facing.
It can be particularly beneficial to put considerable weight into the quality of the opposing bullpen. Especially if you don’t anticipate the starter getting deep into the game.
Ultimately, an offense will only be as good as its matchup, and figuring out where the advantage lies is crucial to picking the best stacks on a given slate.
DFS as a whole is a game of attempting to get the most fantasy points out of the least amount of salary possible. Looking at the overall affordability of a team stack is very important.
If you want to pay up for pitching and/or afford a decent secondary stack or solid one-offs, your primary stack needs to be affordable. This can be due to the entire team being underpriced or the availability of key-value pieces to mix with the star players on the team.
In MLB DFS specifically, you can also intentionally pay up for an overpriced stack due to the lack of value lowering ownership. This is a contrarian strategy that can be beneficial to differentiate your lineups in large-field GPPs.
It can be of value to consider the positional eligibility of the critical pieces in a stack you are looking to use. Especially when you plan on secondary stacking with players from another team, as would be the case when stacking 5-3 on DraftKings.
Some teams may have very little multi-positional eligibility, making stacking them a more limiting proposition. Some may have all the critical bats in the outfield. It is worth considering this and how it will affect the rest of your lineup construction.
A common thought and question within MLB DFS: whether it matters to stack players next to each other in the batting order. It makes some sense to think that it does, considering the correlative nature of MLB DFS scoring, and it can’t hurt. However, it isn’t a good idea to lock yourself into stacking players that bat next to each other in the batting order.
The amount of correlation you gain is minimal. You arguably gain more by making your lineups more unique than large portions of the field who will go out of their way to stack players that bat sequentially.
There is also a tendency among MLB DFS players to make a point of playing hitters that bat higher up in the order. For instance, a 1-2-3-4-5 or 2-3-4-5-6 stack. This often leads to players that bat lower in the order being under-owned. This can make your stacks more unique when you include them.
You may be able to play a high-owned stack but more uniquely by going with something like a 2-4-5-7-8 construction while sacrificing little in terms of correlation benefit.
Main Stack Or Secondary Stack
When looking to construct your lineups with a double-stacking approach, you may ask yourself whether a team lends itself better to primary or secondary stacking. This applies particularly to DraftKings when using a 5-3 construction or on FanDuel if using a 4-3-1 (since in a 4-4 there is no actual secondary stack).
Generally, if an offense is worth stacking, it would be worth stacking either way. There are, however, some considerations you can make here. A team with some key-value pieces and a reasonable chance to outperform expectation but that likely won’t break the slate with a colossal performance may lend itself better to secondary stacking.
You may also want to look at secondary stacking extremely chalky stacks. This way, you can scoop up some of the equity they offer but without your lineup looking like all the others that are full stacking that team.
Leverage And Stack Ownership
Last but not least is considering ownership and leverage when picking your stacks. You don’t simply want to find the offenses that are most likely to perform the best. Everyone else is doing that as well, and ownership will reflect that.
Try to find sneaky team stacks with upside that are a little more under the radar. You can usually still find very stackable offenses with close enough Vegas totals and other probabilities to outperform the highest-owned stacks.
You can also double down and get direct leverage with your stack choices by intentionally stacking against high-owned pitchers.
Most importantly, when it comes to playing MLB DFS tournaments, be sure to stack in general. Playing uncorrelated lineups makes it extremely hard to win at MLB DFS in GPPs. Consider some of these key points when choosing your stacks, and you’ll be well on your way to MLB DFS success.