MLB DFS 101: The Stack Strategy

So you started playing DFS but you haven’t had the success you expected — why might that be? Well, let’s talk about “the Stack.” Sure you could mix and match players from all sorts of teams that appear to be in good matchups and one lucky night they all go off and you win some cash. But one of the most important strategies for continued success in DFS is “stacking” (we’re talking baseball here, but the idea can be applied in other sports as well).

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What is a DFS Stack?

When you stack players, you take batters from the same team and plug them into your DFS lineup. A stack will typically consist of at least 3 players but could be more, and the maximum amount of players you can deploy from the same team depends on the site you leverage for DFS purposes (i.e. FanDuel vs DraftKings vs Underdog). 

The idea behind stacking is to take advantage of a situation where you think an offense is poised to collect a bunch of hits and score a bunch of runs. The purpose is to compound the points on a run-scoring play, where you get points for the runner who scores and points for the batter who drove him in, to put it simply.

Who do use in a DFS Stack?

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Other folks have done the research to back this up so I have no lengthy statistical analysis for you to peruse in order to prove to you that these are the hitters to target, you’ll just have to trust me (or Google it). The optimal hitters to use for the stack strategy are hitters 1 through 4 in the lineup. Why? Well, the obvious reason for using the leadoff man is because he has the opportunity to get the most at-bats any given day. And in today’s game that could mean getting the ever-dangerous Ronald Acuna Jr. or Mookie Betts another AB. Of course, the second hitter in the order is typically good at getting on base as well, and hitters 3 and 4 are expected to bring the top of the order around to score, in many cases via the home run (which of course are worth more points than a single, double, or triple).

What team should I pick players from?

You have a few ways to determine this:

    • Target hitters in the game that has the highest over/under run total
      • You could further narrow your search by choosing hitters from the team that’s the moneyline favorite in that game
    • Target hitters on the team that has the highest implied run total on the slate
      • You can do a search to find this specific number or you can use the generic over/under TEAM total runs from the sportsbook you use
    • Target hitters with a history of success versus the opposing pitcher
    • Target hitters going against pitchers with a high ERA, WHIP, xFIP, etc.

How do I fill out the rest of my lineup?

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Once you’ve added your initial stack you’ll need to fill in the remaining positions. You have a couple of options here that I’ll explain briefly, but will have to be explained in greater detail in a subsequent article. The brief answer is you can choose individual players based on positional need and the available funds left to allocate; or you could add players from another stack you like, even if it’s just two players (what I refer to as a “mini-stack”); or some combination of another stack plus individual players you like. Keep in mind if you are choosing individual players, lean towards players with high slugging percentage (SLG) and isolated power (ISO); these players tend to get extra-base hits and those are worth more points while also having better potential to drive in runs (which also means more points).

Got any other pointers for me?

Many times you can narrow a position down to a couple of players, but you see them as pretty much equal, so how do you choose? Well, these details can be further dissected in a subsequent article as well, but the short answer is: splits. Splits break out a hitter’s or pitcher’s statistics into comparable categories. For example, Hitter #1 might have a .288 batting average on the season, but when you look at his splits you see that he has a decidedly better average against right-handed pitchers, say .320, than he does against left-handed pitchers, say .225. If he’s going against a left-handed starter that day, perhaps you pass on him and take Hitter #2 (assuming Hitter #2 has better splits). 

You could also try to see what the weather is like that day at the ballpark in question. Is it hot or cold? Is there a chance of rain or no? Is the wind blowing in towards home plate or out to right field? Baseballs travel further in warmer weather and high humidity, so you could use that as your deciding factor. Just remember to check your lineup if you go with a game that has a chance of rain because if it gets postponed you’ll take a zero for that hitter(s). If the wind is blowing out, great! If the game is being played at Coors Field or Great American Ball Park, even better! If it’s being played in the ultra-thin air of Mexico City, apparently it will be a home run bonanza!

Practical Application of a DFS Stack

So you read all this but need an example to fully wrap your head around it, huh? Well, here goes…

Say you took Will Smith as your catcher, but he was the only Dodger you took that day. He goes out and is 1-for-5 and scores a couple times. If you were using FanDuel he’d get 3 points for the single, and 6.4 points for the runs (3.2 each), for a total of 9.4 points. Not bad, not great. 

BUT, the Dodgers scored 16 runs that day! Had you stacked Will Smith with the two guys batting on either side of him in the lineup, Freddie Freeman and Max Muncy, you probably would have won some cash that day. Freeman went 4-for-5 with 2 HR, 3 RBI, and 3 runs scored; Muncy went 3-for-5 with an HR, a walk, 2 RBI, and 4 runs scored. 

Think of it like this: if Will Smith scores you get just 3.2 points. But let’s say you had all three of these guys and both Will Smith and Freddie Freeman are on base, then Max Muncy hits a home run. You get the 3.2 points for Smith scoring, but an additional 3.2 points for Freeman scoring, 3.2 points for Muncy scoring, 12 points for the Muncy HR, and 10.5 points for the three Muncy RBI; a total of 28.9 points for you on one swing of the bat. 

So that’s the idea of compounding points. If you can find the right game and the right combination of players, the points can add up quickly. You can just see yourself moving up the leaderboard quickly now, right?

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What about pitchers?

One last thing regarding the stack that might be on your mind — what about pitchers? Well, they aren’t typically considered when applying your stack, BUT, if you have a stack of players you believe will do well, doesn’t that mean that the pitcher has a better chance to win that game too? A win will get you additional points for your pitcher, so you could factor your pitcher into your stack, just know when talking about a “stack” we’re generally not talking about pitchers. Pitchers will need to have their own separate discussion as well.

In Conclusion

So in summary, a stack is a few or more hitters from the same team that are plugged into your DFS lineup because you believe they will all do well in a particular game so that you can take advantage of offensive outbursts, thus compounding the points your DFS squad will score.

Want to learn more?

Look for these articles in the future at!

  • MLB DFS 101: Selecting a Pitcher
  • MLB DFS 101: Choosing Your DFS Platform
  • MLB DFS 201: Splits & Using Advanced Hitting Statistics
  • MLB DFS 201: Ownership Percentages & Contest Selection

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Jarod Rupp, Fantasy Sports
Jarod Rupp, Fantasy Sports
Jarod is a long-time fantasy sports veteran, with over 20 years of experience using salary cap, season-long, best ball, and DFS formats - mainly centered around MLB and NFL. Ever since the "Sid Bream Slide" he has been a die-hard Atlanta Braves fan. He also enjoys collecting trading cards and memorabilia from his favorite teams and players.

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