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Optimizer Groups-Think: Week 1 Optimal Lineup Strategy – Sunday Update

Terry McBride

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The best Yahoo NFL Picks for Week 2 Sunday Night Football Ravens vs. Chiefs using expert projections, rankings & ownership

Week 1 of the NFL season is finally here, now the hope is that Thursday’s spectacular opening game wasn’t already the season’s high-point. With gargantuan prize pools available across the industry in massive-field tournaments, anything is possible as the season gets started. The best way to cut through the noise and get to the data points that truly matter about a slate is through Awesemo’s NFL DFS projections, tools, and expert NFL DFS advice articles. Utilizing weapons like the Top Stacks Tool to view the slate as a whole and quickly identify high-value leverage spots is a major advantage on a slate that everyone and their grandmother will be playing. With fields this large and soft, proper lineup construction and major differentiation are the keys to construction. With that in mind, we’ll be using the best Week 1 NFL DFS optimizer picks and groups for stacking and differentiating lineups on DraftKings and FanDuel.

This article focuses on building lineups with a quality foundation by utilizing the powerful Groups and Rules/Limits tools within Fantasy Cruncher. All of the concepts and pairings included below can be applied to hand-building as well, the goal is to create lineups that have high scoring correlation and take advantage of combined outcomes within stacks while limiting the likelihood of building inefficient or negatively correlated entries for a full slate of NFL DFS lineups.

Week 1 NFL DFS Optimizer Picks & Groups

Overview

The rules and limits that follow are applied in Fantasy Cruncher’s Advanced Options menu. Notes are included to elucidate the reasons behind each rule and explain what it does within a crunch. These settings can be saved for re-use, which is highly recommended. Saving the Week 1 groups that will be created below is also a very good idea, they can be exported from Fantasy Cruncher as a DAT file that can be reloaded and updated week to week. These groups are created manually, but utilizing the Auto Groups Creator in the PRO upgrade is viable for these constructions as well.

Week 1 NFL DFS Optimizer Picks Groups stacking optimal lineup strategy advice predictions best bets free expert

Rules & Limits can be found in Advanced Options under Position Stacks

 

After creating settings, rules & limits, save for future use via a multi-click process.

DraftKings + FanDuel General Settings (in Advanced Options) 

Unique Players Per Lineup – This setting forces Fantasy Cruncher to utilize at least X new players who were not in Lineup 1 when it creates Lineup 2, and so on. It is recommended to utilize at least two, and more can be applied depending on the degree of differentiation desired within lineups. For gigantic early-season GPP play, it is recommended to utilize additional unique players.

Team Salary – a minimum or maximum salary spend can be applied here as needed, though this is not a part of the recommended process in this space as leaving salary on the table is an easy path toward creating unique lineups while not necessarily making a negative expected value play.

FLEX position – this will allow restrictions on what positions can be rostered at the FLEX spot. The only position to consider in this case is tight end, but that is something to be restricted at the individual level via Groups, rather than at the global level.

Global Exposure Setting – this allows caps on the maximum percentage of lineups a player can appear in within a given crunch. This is a powerful tool that will also limit the available pool of lineups. If you see error messages that not enough players are available, it is likely because caps are set too low. The options to calculate at the end or continuously through a crunch tell Fantasy Cruncher how it can create lineups. If it is calculated continuously, Fantasy Cruncher will not use a player who appears in Lineup 1 but has a 25% cap again until Lineup 5, and so on. If it calculates based on the total lineups created it will land on those distributions by the end of the crunch but may utilize the same player in the first 30 lineups that are built.

Randomness – randomness provides a random multiplier to each player’s projected point total based on the set values. This is a valuable tool that helps differentiate lineups instead of simply creating them in order of highest median projected scores. It is recommended to use randomness, the degree to which it is applied is down to personal preference, but 15-25% is fine to get started. Typically, I will apply heavier randomness to more event-based players like wide receivers while tracking volume-based positions like running backs more toward their median projections.

DraftKings + FanDuel Stack Rules

This set of rules will force Fantasy Cruncher to build lineups with certain combinations. We are looking to always stack at least one skill player, ideally a pass-catcher, with his quarterback while also playing a skill player from the opposing team in the lineup. The theory behind this build is that a high-scoring stack will require some response from the opposing team to truly deliver a ceiling score in most situations, otherwise the team that is ahead will simply slow down and run out the clock. These rules are applied by completing the sentences with selections from the drop-down menu, they follow a very straightforward logic. Exceptions can be made for teams at the bottom of the rule creation window. After a rule is set, click the blue bar to add it, it will appear at the bottom of the screen as a completed rule.

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Week 1 NFL DFS Optimizer Picks Groups stacking optimal lineup strategy advice predictions best bets free expert

QB with at least one WR/TE from Same Team (note: It’s fine to make this two or to utilize two of these, one with WR/TE and one with RB/WR/TE, but we can refine that and get it exactly how we want it for each team via Groups)

QB with at least one RB/WR/TE from Opposing Team

QB with at most zero DST from Same Team (this is more of a personal preference, high scoring teams and quarterbacks tend to leave their defenses on the field exposing them to simple point-scoring negatives)

Limit Rules

Limit rules can be applied to restrict certain combinations from coming together. This is powerful for limiting multiple running backs from the same team, or getting overweight to a certain stack within a lineup.

Limit QB/RB/WR/TE from Same Team to three

Limit RB/WR/TE from Same Team to one unless paired with QB from Same Team OR Opposing Team

Limit RB from Same Team to one (I’m also doing this with WR in a separate rule that adds an “unless paired with QB or opposing QB” but it’s a personal preference for NFL DFS)

Construction

These groups are built by utilizing the quarterback as the KEY player (by clicking the key icon next to his name), with the thinking that the quarterback play is the driving factor in which stack is utilized in that lineup. Built to specification, each team will have two groups, a team group, and an opponent group, both of which utilize the same quarterback, so four groups per game. This is the best approach to truly capture the requirement of playing individual “run-back” plays from the opposing team. A more basic approach would be to include all of the skill players from a game in each quarterback’s group and rely on rules and limits to restrict any potential overflow. It is highly recommended to save the Week 1 groups as a foundation that will be updated for the rest of the season. The recommended groups will include skill players who have an active role in their offense and provide significant correlation with their quarterback’s scoring, quite often bell-cow running backs who do not specialize in the passing game will not be included in groups as they are projected highly and appear on their own in correct distributions, while also not always providing the strongest positive correlation plays. Stacking quarterbacks with pass-catchers and allowing running backs to fall into the lanes then crated by settings, available salary and randomness should create a well-distributed set of quality lineups.

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Week 1 NFL DFS Optimizer Picks Groups stacking optimal lineup strategy advice predictions best bets free expert

Sunday Updates

All active/inactive information that is available as of 6 AM Sunday morning is incorporated. The positive and negative boosts are included to increase or decrease shares of players within their stacked teams. For example, an unchanged Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the original settings would come up in more than 70% of Chiefs stacks that begin with Mahomes. Adding negative bumps to suppress this will reduce those shares and naturally increase shares of the other skill players as rules and limits are enforced. 

A few questions have come along that I will address quickly. I typically utilize very heavy randomness on receivers, with less on running backs and tight ends. I use quarterback ownership to control much of the stack distribution outcomes within the pool of created lineups while allowing skill players room to exceed their public ownership projections and capping defenses at a relatively low number with an eye toward value and leverage plays. Running backs are capped between 25 and 45 percent, while tight ends and defense are capped between 12 and 25 percent. These ranges should be expanded to include larger shares of premium individual plays. These thresholds do not represent the overall entry caps that will be in filtered entries, only what is arrived at across a crunch including hundreds of lineups prior to sorting.

The goal here is to create a large pool of well-built lineups that can be utilized in any large field GPP contest. As part of my process, I will typically crunch far more lineups than needed and utilize a sorting table in Excl to filter to the best set of lineups for entries. The lineups created in these crunches should provide a broad distribution that includes some of the lower-owned skill players from each stack. Applying boosts is critical in pushing and pulling ownership on individual players within their team’s stacked lineups.

The groups below are designed so that each quarterback will have two groups to create, one with his skill players and another with the opposing team. A more basic approach would be to add them all to one large group with an “at least three” and let rules and limits set things, but there is a more granular level of control in creating them separately.

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NFL DFS Optimizer Picks: Team Groups

Arizona Cardinals

Key Player: Kyler Murray

Setting: At least one

Group: DeAndre Hopkins (-20%), Christian Kirk (+10%), AJ Green (+10%), Rondale Moore (+10%), Chase Edmonds (+15%)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Derrick Henry, AJ Brown, Julio Jones, Anthony Firkser, Josh Reynolds (+15%), Chester Rogers (+25%)

Atlanta Falcons

Key Player: Matt Ryan

Setting: At least two

Group: Calvin Ridley (-15%), Russell Gage, Kyle Pitts, Hayden Hurst, Olamide Zaccheaus (+15%) (Christian Blake and Cordarrelle Patterson can be added for extremely large GPP dart throw plays, they require significant projections boosts or extreme randomness to get them to appear)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Miles Sanders (+15%), Dallas Goedert (+15%), DeVonta Smith, Jalen Reagor, Zach Ertz, Quez Watkins (+25%)

Buffalo Bills

Key Player: Josh Allen

Setting: At least one

Group: Stefon Diggs (-10%), Cole “Get Your Shot” Beasley, Emmanuel Sander, Devin Singletary (+35%), Gabriel Davis, Dawson Knox (+10%)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Najee Harris, Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Eric Ebron, James Washington (+25%)

Carolina Panthers

Key Player: Sam Darnold

Setting: At least one

Group: Christian McCaffrey, DJ Moore (-15%), Robby Anderson (-15%), Terrace Marshall Jr. (+25%), Dan Arnold (+25%)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Corey Davis, Elijah Moore, Denzel Mims, Braxton Berrios

Cincinnati Bengals

Key Player: Joe Burrow

Setting: At least one

Group: Joe Mixon, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, Ja’Marr Chase, CJ Uzomah

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson, Adam Theilen, Alexander Mattison, Tyler Conklin

Cleveland Browns

Key Player: Baker Mayfield

Setting: At least two

Group: Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham Jr., Donovan Peoples-Jones, Kareem Hunt, Austin Hooper, Rashard Higgins

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Clyde Edwards-Helaire (-15%),, Mecole Hardman (+15%), Demarcus Robinson (+25%), Byron Pringle (+25%)

Denver Broncos

Key Player: Teddy Bridgewater

Setting: At least one

Group: Jerry Jeudy (-10%), Courtland Sutton, Noah Fant, Tim Patrick, Albert Okwuegbunam (+25%), KJ Hamler (+25%)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Saquon Barkley, Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, Kyle Rudolph (-10%), Kadarius Toney (+25%)

Detroit Lions

Key Player: Jared Goff

Setting: At least one

Group: D’Andre Swift (+15%), Tyrell Williams, TJ Hockenson, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Quintez Cephus (+35%), Kalif Raymond

Opposing Setting: At least one

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Group: George Kittle, Deebo Samuel (-15%), Brandon Aiyuk, Mohammed Sanu

Green Bay Packers

Key Player: Aaron Rodgers

Setting: At least two

Group: Davante Adams (-15%), Aaron Jones, Randall Cobb, Robert Tonyan, Marquez Valdes-Scantling (+15%)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Alvin Kamara, Marquez Callaway, Deonte Harris, Lil’Jordan Humphrey (+15%), Adam Trautman (+15%)

Houston Texans

Key Player: Tyrod Taylor

Setting: At least one

Group: Brandin Cooks (-10%), Chris Conley (+15%), Jordan Akins, Nico Collins (+15%), Anthony Miller (+15%)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: James Robsinson, Laviska Shenault Jr., DJ Chark Jr., Marvin Jones Jr., James O’Shaughnessey

Indianapolis Colts

Key Player: Carson Wentz

Setting: At least one

Group: Parris Campbell, Michael Pittman Jr., Zach Pascal, Nyheim Hines (+25%), Mo Alie-Cox, Jack Doyle

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Chris Carson, Gerald Everett

Jacksonville Jaguars

Key Player: Trevor Lawrence

Setting: At least one

Group: James Robsinson, Laviska Shenault Jr., DJ Chark Jr. (+10%), Marvin Jones Jr., James O’Shaughnessey

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Brandin Cooks (-10%), Chris Conley, Jordan Akins, Nico Collins, Anthony Miller

Kansas City Chiefs

Key Player: Patrick Mahomes

Setting: At least two (drop this to one for some crunches or if you’re getting too much of any set of receivers)

Group: Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill (-15%), Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Mecole Hardman, Demarcus Robinson, Byron Pringle (+25%)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Nick Chubb, Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham Jr., Donovan Peoples-Jones (+10%), Kareem Hunt, Austin Hooper, Rashard Higgins

Los Angeles Chargers

Key Player: Justin Herbert

Setting: At least one

Group: Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Jared Cook, Jalen Guyton (+35%)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Antonio Gibson, Terry McLaurin, Adam Humphries, JD McKissic, Logan Thomas, Dyami Brown (+15%), Cam Sims (+25%)

Miami Dolphins

Key Player: Tua Tagovailoa

Setting: At least one

Group: Myles Gaskin (+15%), DeVante Parker (-15%), Mike Gesicki, Jaylen Waddle, Jakeem Grant, Preston Williams

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Jakobi Meyers, Nelson Agholor, James White, Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry, Kendrick Bourne

Minnesota Vikings

Key Player: Kirk Cousins

Setting: At least one

Group: Dalvin Cook (+10%), Justin Jefferson (-10%), Adam Theilen, Alexander Mattison (+25%), Tyler Conklin

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Joe Mixon, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, Ja’Marr Chase, CJ Uzomah

New England Patriots

Key Player: Mac Jones

Setting: At least one

Group: Jakobi Meyers, Nelson Agholor, James White (+25%), Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry, Kendrick Bourne

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Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Myles Gaskin, DeVante Parker, Mike Gesicki, Jaylen Waddle, Jakeem Grant, Preston Williams

New Orleans Saints

Key Player: Jameis Winston

Setting: At least two

Group: Alvin Kamara, Marquez Callaway (-15%), Deonte Harris, Lil’Jordan Humphrey, Adam Trautman

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Davante Adams (-15%), Aaron Jones, Randall Cobb (+25%), Robert Tonyan (+15%), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (+15%)

New York Giants

Key Player: Daniel Jones

Setting: At least one

Group: Saquon Barkley (+25%), Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton (+10%), Kyle Rudolph (-10%), Kadarius Toney (+35%)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Jerry Jeudy (-10%), Courtland Sutton, Noah Fant, Tim Patrick, Albert Okwuegbunam, KJ Hamler

New York Jets

Key Player: Zach Wilson

Setting: At least one

Group: Corey Davis, Elijah Moore, Denzel Mims, Braxton Berrios, Tevin Coleman, Tyler Kroft

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Christian McCaffrey, DJ Moore, Robby Anderson, Terrace Marshall Jr. (+15%), Dan Arnold (+15%)

Philadelphia Eagles

Key Player: Jalen Hurts

Setting: At least one

Group: Miles Sanders (+15%), Dallas Goedert, DeVonta Smith, Jalen Reagor (+15%), Zach Ertz, Quez Watkins (+25%)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Calvin Ridley (-15%), Russell Gage, Kyle Pitts (+25%), Hayden Hurst (+15%), Olamide Zaccheaus

Pittsburgh Steelers

Key Player: Ben Roethlisberger

Setting: At least two

Group: Najee Harris, Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson, JuJu Smith-Schuster (+15%), Eric Ebron, James Washington (+25%)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Stefon Diggs (-15%), Cole Beasley, Emmanuel Sander, Devin Singletary (+25%), Gabriel Davis, Dawson Knox

Seattle Seahawks

Key Player: Russell Wilson

Setting: At least two

Group: DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Chris Carson, Gerald Everett, Dee Eskridge (+15%)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Parris Campbell, Michael Pittman Jr., Zach Pascal, Nyheim Hines, Mo Alie-Cox, Jack Doyle

San Francisco 49ers

Key Player: Jimmy Garoppolo

Setting: At least one

Group: George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk (+10%), Mohamed Sanu (+25%)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: D’Andre Swift, Tyrell Williams, TJ Hockenson, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Quintez Cephus, Kalif Raymond (+15%)

Tennessee Titans

Key Player: Ryan Tannehill

Setting: At least one

Group: AJ Brown, Julio Jones, Anthony Firkser, Josh Reynolds (+35%), Chester Rogers (+35%)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: DeAndre Hopkins, Christian Kirk (+25%), AJ Green (+25%), Rondale Moore (+15%), Chase Edmonds

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Washington Football Team

Key Player: Ryan Fitzpatrick

Setting: At least one

Group: Antonio Gibson, Terry McLaurin (-10%), Adam Humphries (+10%), JD McKissic, Logan Thomas, Dyami Brown (+10%)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Jared Cook, Jalen Guyton


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If you’re interested in other top NFL DFS plays today for multiple game slates, head over to NFL DFS ownership projections, Awesemo's NFL Data Central, NFL DFS rankings, and NFL DFS stacks. Take a look at our NFL starting line-ups, depth charts and inactives list.

Terry used to do other things, now he writes words on the internet. He hopes his more than 20 years’ experience in season-long and daily fantasy sports and his custom models for MLB, NBA, and NFL don't steer you too wrong when he writes columns and makes picks on Awesemo.com. A lifetime of experience keeping odd hours make Terry ideal to cover KBO baseball overnight until the world returns to normal. Most of those late night hours have been spent on the couch watching sports, T.V., and movies; just try to shut him up about any of the above. You can find his pop-culture ramblings and more on Sideaction.

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