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Every draft should be approached with an open mindset. Not only in regards to roster construction but also the players you would like to draft. If you are given the 1.01 on Underdog, it will be virtually impossible to stack the Chiefs for example. Using my custom team stack charts you can see that you would have to make a seven-spot reach on Kelce, pray that Tyreek fell 14 spots to your second pick and then probably reach the value of a full round to take Mahomes at 3.01. The equity you’d give up to do this would crush your chances of winning a large scale tournament. 

Instead, we’re better off focusing on what stacking opportunities are presented to us at each draft pick. Which stacks will allow us not to give up large chunks of ADP to our opponents and still leave us with a strong chance to do well in best ball playoff rounds. In a recent episode of ‘Establish The Edge’, Justin Herzig talked about how stacking has become such a focus we can see parts of the draft where teammates ADP lines up with their other teammates. I have spent a lot of time this off-season looking at ADP data and particularly how it can be used for getting an idea of how possible each team’s stack will be so this idea stuck with me. For more on that, please check out the Team Stacking Charts I put together. To dive further into what Justin said I created a 12 team draft, based on Underdog ADP (taken from 17.06.21). I created a few small rules for the draft;

  • Teams would not be locked entirely to ADP if it would result in a poor roster build

  • In the first three rounds, no team would reach more than 3 spots up.

  • After that, no team could reach more than 6 spots to complete a stack, until the 10th.

For this article, I decided to limit the draft to twelve rounds. My opinion, and the opinion of plenty of more intelligent analysts, is that reaching in the later rounds to complete a stack is a lot better than reaching in the early rounds so it felt disingenuous to hold to the ADP if we went deeper.

To be clear, I’m not saying this is how to draft at each position, or that every draft will fall this way. Every draft is dictated by human decisions, or auto-drafts, that may throw things wildly out. This is more a look at how stacking has aligned certain teammates ADP into similar areas of the draft. 

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As we can see the 1.01 provides us with an opportunity to grab some elite receivers and potentially draft the ‘SeaMin’ stack as talked about in the Establish The Run video that sparked this idea. Unfortunately in our draft, the 1.02 had ideas about that so we pivot and come away with two small stacks of Jalen Hurts + Devonta Smith and Carson Wentz + Michael Pittman.

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The 1.02 has two great stacks without reaching at all. Cook/Thielen/Cousins and Lockett/Wilson. It’s easy to see how draft selections could lead to Metcalf and Irv Smith falling into this selection, rather than the 1.01, creating even more threatening stacks. Whether at the 1.01 or the 1.02, these are good stacks to target.

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Without Josh Allen either falling or having been reached on, it didn’t feel possible for the Stefon Diggs owner to have that stack. Instead, Allen fell a few spots. I allowed team construction to drop him down six spots past his ADP before eventually he was taken. Although you’d prefer the Diggs/Allen combo, this spot left us able to stack Allen with Beasley and Moss without any reaching. The 1.03 spot also saw Kittle fall perfectly into a Deebo and Trey Lance stack without giving up any ADP.

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Here we get a nice Cincinnati stack of Burrow/Boyd/Chase, whilst also setting up a big New Orleans stack of Kamara/Thomas/Trautman to complete in the later rounds, with Winston available at the 16.04 it’s very clear this is a commonly used selection, or Taysom Hill is available in the late 17th.

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This might be the most lucrative spot to be in, without reaching. ADP fell perfectly for this slot to stack Ryan/Ridley/Gage with Allen/Herbert and Higbee/Stafford. Through twelve rounds you would find yourself very short of running backs and it wouldn’t be a tactic I would hope fell to me, but you can see how at this position the stacks will fall your way without reaching and giving up any ADP.

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Another set of high-value stacks falls into the middle of the draft with Hopkins/Murray/R. Moore combined with Godwin/Brady. Also noteworthy is the alignment of Beckham/Landry which either gives a strongly correlated play without a quarterback or sets up perfectly for a third stack with Baker Mayfield currently going at 13.06 (ADP 149.8).

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This selection misses out on an elite pairing of receiver and quarterback but still offers plenty of upside with Jackson/Brown/Bateman all falling perfectly into place. It’s often possible to stack Lamar with Andrews, as the scepticism around the passing game in Baltimore lets one or both fall but for this mock, Andrews fell elsewhere. Chark and Lawrence fell nicely together and with Shenault selected by the ninth-placed team, it’s easy to see that piece falling to you at times and his ADP being a reflection of that trend.

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Perhaps it’s a brave selection to make at the minute but somebody is getting a large discount if Rodgers returns to Green Bay and plays the entire year. All of Adams/Rodgers/Dillon/Tonyan fall nicely to this spot and we’re set up very nicely with a correlated play of Claypool and JuJu to grab Ben Roethlisberger at his ADP of 16.06 (186).

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Many best ball drafts seem to feature quite battles of the Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce owners for who can get Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes ADP of 36 fell slightly here. I gave the benefit of the doubt to the owners of three teams that they wouldn’t take Mahomes without one of his top two options and let him fall to complete a Hill/Mahomes/Hardman stack that complimented a Fitzpatrick/McLaurin second stack. For team construction, I gave the team Pollard in the ninth round, as the team's third back. Perhaps a bold drafter would opt for Logan Thomas in this scenario, who fell one spot later but I felt like most drafters would feel the need for a back here.

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For those of us who run-heavy in the best ball streets, the Dallas stack is often a clear goal. It’s not impossible to stack Dak with Cooper and Lamb, but often one of those pieces ends up elsewhere. In this scenario that’s what happened as Lamb was grabbed on the three/four turn. Most people will be happy enough taking Cooper/Prescott/Gallup without giving up any ADP. There’s no clear secondary stack at ADP in this round, but with Ruggs or Cooks, you have opportunities for their quarterbacks later on.

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ADP pushed this team towards a heavy RB build to start with and then resulted in small stacks of Jones/Tannehill and Parker/Tagovailoa. That could be complemented with a Hockenson/Goff stack later on with plenty of Detroit Lions players available deep into the draft.

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For whatever reason, the ADP dictated that Team 12 ended up stackless through twelve rounds. Justin Fields was the next available quarterback here and I doubt many teams are taking their first quarterback this late. In this position perhaps a Fields stack with Kmet adds to a Jets stack with Davis and E. Moore already rostered. It’s not a position I’d wish to be in.

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It’s clear to see the effect stacking is having. As more and more people realise the benefits of doing so, teammates become more and more aligned to certain areas of the draft. Contrarian theories are positing that stacking may not be the be-all and end-all of best ball and in time perhaps they’ll be shown to be correct, but for now, it’s clear to see that at certain draft picks you will have clearer paths to some stacks than others. What will always remain key though, is not giving up too much ADP by reaching to complete these stacks.

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