It is best ball fantasy football season, ladies and gentlemen, and the biggest fantasy football tournament on Underdog Fantasy, Best Ball Mania III, is well underway. How big are we talking? How about a $10 MILLION prize pool with at least THREE different chances to become a millionaire?
So yeah, pretty big. And the first thing you’ll want to do is obviously get set up with Underdog using this link here or simply going to the site and using promo code ALARM, where they will match up to $100 in bonus credits with your first deposit. You’ll also want to check out some of our other advice for this specific tournament on roster composition and drafting early vs. late so that you are fully prepared to dominate. Taking a few quick minutes to read those will legitimately boost your odds of becoming a millionaire. You can actually see the percentages right in the articles that will dictate whether you get that boat or not.
Once you’ve got those basics, this article will help you with another basic yet crucial strategy in best ball: stacking. So let’s get into it.
What is Fantasy Football Lineup Stacking?
Stacking itself is a simple concept - you take multiple players from the same team. That said, not every style of stacking works well for this specific type of league. For instance, in your regular redraft league, you might want to take a starting running back and then stack his back up on your bench as a “handcuff”. That way if he gets hurt you have the backup ready to go. In this, you DON’T want to do that. This isn’t a basic 12-team league you are trying to win. And there are no waivers to drop the starter once he gets hurt. This is a massive tournament with almost half a million people and the big money goes to those in the 99.9%. If anything, you want OTHER people’s handcuffs, hoping you can strike gold.
The good news for us is that Josh Larky during his time at PlayerProfiler did a lot of the math regarding stacking for these types of tournaments already. And the short and sweet of his research found that stacking quarterbacks with wide receivers, tight ends, and even satellite backs had a positive correlation. You don’t, however, usually want to stack starting running backs with quarterbacks as that returned a slight negative correlation (which makes sense when you consider that teams running the ball well don’t need to throw as much.
So now we know what we are doing - stacking quarterbacks with pass catchers. Let’s get into how we can engineer drafts in our favor.
Fantasy Football Draft Strategy: Don’t Reach
We’ve talked about this ad nauseam but you DON’T want to go into a draft pigeonholing yourself into a single strategy, like Zero RB. You want to be flexible and know ALL of the strategies so that you can pivot to them if need be, as the linked article suggests. Well, the same can be said for stacking. If you tell yourself “I’m going into the draft and I’m not leaving without Mark Andrews and Lamar Jackson," you are setting yourself up to reach to make that happen in the same way you would forcing yourself to draft a mediocre WR when good RBs are on the board because you decided yesterday you were going Zero RB. Don’t do that.
As the data compiled by Larky shows, stacking gives you better odds of winning tournaments like these but you give up all of your mathematical advantages by reaching to do it. For instance, if you get CeeDee Lamb in the second round, that’s a good deal. If you can then be patient and get Dak Prescott in the 6-7th round (his ADP is pick 82 in the seventh round) then you just increased the odds of your bet. If you draft Lamb in the second round then reach for Dak the next round in the third, you just ruined all of that mathematical goodness. You are better off missing that one specific stack than giving up multiple rounds of value - you will have at least 2-3 QBs to stack with at least 6-9 WRs so be patient.
Leaning Into Your Bets
Essentially every quarterback who had multiple high-end pass catchers for fantasy on the team were either a top ~12 QB outright or were in the QB1 range on a per-game basis. Yes, that includes Kirk Cousins with Adam Thielen/Justin Jefferson, 2018 Ben Roethlisberger with JuJu Smith-Schuster/Antonio Brown, and even 2015 Ryan Fitzpatrick with Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. The year Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jefferey on the Bears were both top 24 wide receivers, Josh McCown came in and threw 15 TDs and 1 INT over a seven-game span. He was QB7 for that stretch. And for all those examples of guys who might have been in the fringe QB1 range with high end pass catchers, there are obviously a ton of guys like Patrick Mahomes with Tyreek Hill/Travis Kelce that were high end. So it’s actually an incredibly low odds bet to suggest that multiple pass catchers from the same team will be good for fantasy football yet the quarterback won’t be. And that makes a lot of sense considering there are 32 teams and the top two players from each team would be 64 yet there aren’t 64 relevant wide receivers and tight ends. That's math. And the point we are taking away is that you have to make your bets and roll with them.
Because that’s what we are doing at the end of the day right? We are betting on these guys to have good football seasons. So take a second to sit down and think about what players you like and what those bets mean - especially in terms of stacking. Do you think some combination of Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, and/or Mike Gesicki can all be good in fantasy football? If you do, Tua Tagovalioa is coming off the board as QB17 at pick 128. You either need to be convinced that only one of Waddle or Hill will be good for fantasy football or you need to accept that they are both good players, at which point Tua becomes a value pick and a good stack with them. Since we don’t know what that offense will look like under Mike McDaniel, you are already kind of making that bet that both can be good when you draft one of Waddle or Hill. So you might as well just lean into your bet and take Tua as well. And I personally don't even really love Waddle or Hill at ADP (or necessarily Tua). But, if I do end up taking one of them, Tua is immediately on my radar as my QB2. Because math.
In that first example, it's ambiguous who will lead the team. Your bet becomes even more clear when you draft a guy that you project to be second on the team. Unless you are predicting some sort of injury or suspension, you are betting that the quarterback can sustain multiple fantasy-relevant pass catchers. Let’s look at a few of the top 12 quarterbacks here as examples.
Justin Herbert (QB4)
Keenan Allen (WR12)
Mike Williams (WR17)
Russell Wilson (QB9)
Courtland Sutton (WR24)
Jerry Jeudy (WR23)
Dak Prescott (QB10)
CeeDee Lamb (WR6)
Dalton Schultz (TE7)
Matthew Stafford (QB11)
Cooper Kupp (WR1)
Allen Robinson (WR25)
Aaron Rodgers (QB12)
Allen Lazard (WR50)
Christian Watson (WR46)
Just think about some of these bets logically. If you are taking Cooper Kupp at his current ADP which is 2.6 as the WR1 overall, you are essentially expecting a similar performance to last year, when Matthew Stafford was the QB5 in fantasy. If you have already made that bet with your first-round pick, it logically makes sense for you to also bet on Stafford at QB11 and complete that stack. You don’t reach to do it but Stafford should immediately be on your radar once you’ve made the first bet. Don’t worry about having “too many eggs in one basket” because, in this format, 99.9% of people lose. If Kupp isn’t good, you’ve already lost. So might as well lean on into it.
And that’s how this should go - the early bets you make will lead you into some later ones. For instance, let’s take all the top 10 QBs over the last three seasons. Out of those 30, all but three of them have had at least one wide receiver in the top 15 or a tight end in the top 5 for fantasy. They were 2019 Josh Allen (best was John Brown WR20), Jalen Hurts (Dallas Goedert TE10), and 2019 Kyler Murray (Larry Fitzgerald, WR37) - all mobile QBs. The other 27 QBs had at least one high end pass catcher for fantasy. A guy like Russell Wilson is going off the board at QB9 (pick 75). His top projected pass catchers, Jerry Jeudy at WR23 is going off at pick 50 and Courtland Sutton, at WR24, is going off at pick 52. If you are making that bet on one of those wide receivers at around pick 50, you might as well consider making the bet on Russell Wilson at pick 75 as well. Or, if you think Russell Wilson is a top QB but Albert Owuegbunam is his top target, take Russ then take Albert O at pick 137. As we continue to harp on, things need to go exactly right for you to win this tournament so, the odds of one of those WRs or TEs far exceeding ADP but Russell Wilson not delivering at his ADP, aren’t that great. Make your bets and fully lean into them. You can always just draft another team right after if you don’t like the end result. This isn’t your hometown league - per the rules, you can have 150 teams if you feel like shelling out the $3,750.
We just talked about following up your WR bet with the QB - the same is true when you take the QB first. Let’s say you take the back-to-back MVP, Aaron Rodgers, under your assumption that he will be a top 10 QB in fantasy again. That pick is being made at 98.6 according to ADP. If you are willing to go there, his top receiving options in Christian Watson (ADP 97.6) and Allen Lazard (ADP 104.4) are going right around that area as well. Since you are making the bet on Rodgers already, might as well go back to back on that stack if you can. If both Christian Watson and Allen Lazard go off the board before Rodgers, taking Aaron Rodgers without any sort of bonus correlation stack becomes incredibly unappealing to me. Unless you think someone like Sammy Watkins, Randall Cobb, or Robert Tonyan is the player you want to stack with.
Then we get into the QBs going later.
Trey Lance (QB13)
Derek Carr (QB15)
Kirk Cousins (QB16)
Irv Smith Jr.
Tua Tagovailoa (QB27)
Zach Wilson (QB20)
Jameis Winston (QB22)
Jared Goff (QB26)
We talked about Tua. But what about Derek Carr? We’ve seen both Darren Waller (TE2 in 2020) and Hunter Renfrow (WR11 last year) succeed with him. We’ve obviously seen Davante Adams put up monster numbers. If you use a first or second-round pick on Davante Adams (ADP 10.2) or are willing to draft Darren Waller (ADP 40.2) or Hunter Renfrow (ADP 85.7) anywhere, you should be LASER FOCUSED on Derek Carr who comes off the board after all of them at pick 108.1.
Final Note: Be Wary of Fantasy Football Roster Composition
This concept is so important that we have already written an entire separate article on it. But it needs to be mentioned once again because it’s crucial to winning and I want one of our members to win a million dollars. And the key takeaway for this article is similar to the “do not reach concept”. Do not go outside of the ideal roster compositions to complete a stack.
The numbers on the roster compositions are pretty clear, as provided by TJ Hernandez of 4for4. And that’s especially true with the idea that you give yourself the best odds to win when you have between 2-3 quarterbacks and 2-3 tight ends. So, if you are sitting there with three quarterbacks already, don’t add Zach Wilson as a fourth quarterback just to complete the stack with Garrett Wilson or whoever. Just like the example earlier where we talked about reaching for Dak Prescott, you are erasing all of the increased odds you get from the stack. And the same goes for tight end - if you have three tight ends already, it’s more important to shoot for the ideal roster composition range than it is to stack your TE4 with your QB3. We want to give ourselves the best possible odds and we can accomplish ALL of these goals at once if we engineer our drafts the right way.
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