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Optimizer Groups: Week 12 Sunday NFL DFS Optimal Lineup Strategy on DraftKings & FanDuel

Terry McBride

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A slightly smaller Week 12 Sunday brings an interesting slate of NFL DFS action to the post-Thanksgiving table. The schedule takes an interesting shape on the board in Vegas, most of the early games are carrying low totals in the mid to low 40s, with the notable exception of the Buccaneers vs, Colts game, which is carrying the highest total of the day at 53. The second set of games in the afternoon are slightly more targetable for NFL DFS point-scoring upside, with all three games totaled between 47 and 49. Getting to a steady mix of options from early games, while being sure to incorporate players from the later games and leaving spots for late-swapping opportunities is the recommended approach. Building stacks with the Buccaneers and Colts offenses and focusing other lineup spots into the later afternoon will be a sound, yet popular, approach to most NFL DFS optimizer picks and groups.

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.

Fantasy Cruncher – New How-To Video

The uptick in questions related to the how-to aspects of Fantasy Cruncher along with several noteworthy new tools demanded a new how-to tutorial video. I put together the above review of all of Fantasy Cruncher’s advanced options with some basic how-to on the constructions, rules, limits, and groups that we use in this article. The tutorial also reviews all of Fantasy Cruncher’s new features and the important distinctions between the various sets of projections that are available.

Week 12 DraftKings & FanDuel NFL DFS Optimizer Groups & Picks – Sunday Update

Overview

The Week 1 article featured a deep dive into the general settings menu and various utilities within Fantasy Cruncher, it is still available for anyone who would like to refer back. We will maintain the list of rules and limits below throughout the season, with occasional tweaks, if needed. Each week sees yet another fresh crop of value plays as situations change and injuries create opportunities around the league. These changing roles and emergent value plays are accounted for in the process of creating these groups from week to week. After a large pool of lineups is created utilizing these groups, it is still of critical importance to filter them for factors including ceiling projections and leverage potential, as well as our optimal lineup rates and Boom/Bust potential. Getting to a strong mix of the most optimal positively leveraged plays will be a strong foundation for a large pool of tournament lineups.

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 12 NFL DFS Optimizer Picks DraftKings FanDuel Groups stacking optimal lineup strategy advice predictions best bets free expert

QB with at least one WR/TE from Same Team (note: It is 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.

Week 12 NFL DFS Optimizer Picks DraftKings FanDuel Groups stacking optimal lineup strategy advice predictions best bets free expert

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 (one can also do this with WR in a separate rule that adds an “unless paired with QB or opposing QB,” but it is 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 basically 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. These groups are updated weekly to account for changes in utilization, schemes, injuries, target shares, and more.

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Sunday Updates

Today’s Sunday update includes a high number of in-group boosts and downgrade recommendations to control exposures. We do not have extreme value plays running wild, but several players are simply outpacing their teammates and shares need to be scaled back somewhat for large pools of entries. As usual, these groups are intended for crunches that will calculate hundreds if not thousands of lineups which will be sorted separately. The intent is to create a mix of players that will provide premium lineup constructions while adding a few shares of secondary and tertiary skill players to the mix in appropriate distributions. All current active/inactive news has been accounted for, but there are numerous players who will be true game-time decisions, paying attention to news and adjusting accordingly as lock approaches is critical.


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NFL DFS Optimizer Picks: Week 12 Team Groups for DraftKings & FanDuel – Sunday Update

The goal here is to create a large pool of well-built lineups that can be utilized in any large-field GPP contest. Crunch far more lineups than needed and utilize a sorting table in Excel 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.

Utilizing two groups also allows us to place running backs into the “run-back” position in certain teams while not including them in the primary stack for their team. This is useful when there is a situation with an extremely highly projected running back who does not necessarily fit into his team’s passing game. These players are threaded throughout the following construction recommendations.

Atlanta Falcons

Key Player: Matt Ryan

Setting: At least one

Group: Cordarrelle Patterson (P) (+10%), Kyle Pitts (-20%), Russell Gage (+10%), Tajae Sharpe (+25%), Olamide Zaccheaus (+25%) (Patterson is expected to play but remains a game-time decision)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: James Robinson (-15%), Marvin Jones Jr. (+10%), Laviska Shenault Jr. (+10%), Dan Arnold, Laqon Treadwell (+25%)

Carolina Panthers

Key Player: Cam Newton

Setting: At least one

Group: Christian McCaffrey (+10%), DJ Moore (-15%), Robby Anderson (+25%), Brandon Zylstra (+25%) (Terrace Marshall Jr. (+50%) can be added for deeper formats)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Myles Gaskin (-15%), Jaylen Waddle (+10%), Mike Gesicki, Albert Wilson (+15%), Preston Williams (+25%), Mack Hollins (+25%)

Cincinnati Bengals

Key Player: Joe Burrow

Setting: At least one

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

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Najee Harris, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool (+10%), Pat Freiermuth (-10%), James Washington (+25%)

Denver Broncos

Key Player: Teddy Bridgewater

Setting: At least one

Group: Jerry Jeudy, Noah Fant, Courtland Sutton (+10%), Tim Patrick (+15%)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Austin Ekeler (-25%), Keenan Allen, Mike Williams (+15%), Jared Cook, Joshua Palmer (+25%)

Green Bay Packers

Key Player: Aaron Rodgers

Setting: Between one and two

Group: Davante Adams, Randall Cobb (+25%), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (+25%), Allen Lazard (+25%) (Q), Marcedes Lewis (+10%) (running back Aaron Jones practiced through the week and expectations are that he might play, but he is currently still a question mark)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Cooper Kupp, Darrell Henderson Jr., Odell Beckham Jr. (+15%), Tyler Higbee (-10%), Van Jefferson Jr. (+15%)

Houston Texans

Key Player: Tyrod Taylor

Setting: At least one

Group: Brandin Cooks, David Johnson, Pharaoh Brown, Danny Amendola (+25%), Nico Collins (+25%) (Chris Conley (+25%) can be added in the deepest formats)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Ty Johnson (-25%), Jamison Crowder, Elijah Moore, Braxton Berrios (+15%), Ryan Griffin (+25%)

Indianapolis Colts

Key Player: Carson Wentz

Setting: At least one

Group: Jonathan Taylor, Michael Pittman Jr. (-15%), T.Y. Hilton (+15%), Zach Pascal (+15%), Nyheim Hines, Jack Doyle, Mo Allie-Cox

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Chris Godwin, Leonard Fournette (-10%), Mike Evans (+10%), Rob Gronkowski (+15%), Tyler Johnson (+25%)

Jacksonville Jaguars

Key Player: Trevor Lawrence

Setting: At least one

Group: James Robinson, Marvin Jones Jr., Laviska Shenault Jr., Dan Arnold (-25%), Laqon Treadwell (+15%)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Cordarrelle Patterson (Q), Kyle Pitts (-25%), Russell Gage, Tajae Sharpe (+15%), Olamide Zaccheaus (+15%)

Los Angeles Chargers

Key Player: Justin Herbert

Setting: Between one and two

Group: Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen (-10%), Mike Williams (+15%), Jared Cook, Joshua Palmer (+25%) (Jalen Guyton (+25%) can be added in ultra-deep formats)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Jerry Jeudy, Noah Fant, Courtland Sutton (+10%), Tim Patrick (+15%)

Los Angeles Rams

Key Player: Matthew Stafford

Setting: At least one

Group: Cooper Kupp, Darrell Henderson Jr., Odell Beckham Jr. (+25%), Tyler Higbee (-20%), Van Jefferson Jr. (+15%) (Landen Akers (+25%) can be added for giant field GPP play)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Davante Adams, Randall Cobb (+15%), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (+15%), Allen Lazard (Q) (+15%)

Miami Dolphins

Key Player: Tua Tagovailoa

Setting: At least one

Group: Myles Gaskin, Jaylen Waddle, Mike Gesicki (-10%), Albert Wilson (+25%), Preston Williams (+25%), Mack Hollins (+25%) (Williams and Hollins are more GPP dart throw plays who will mix in for small shares)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Christian McCaffrey, DJ Moore, Robby Anderson (+25%), Brandon Zylstra (+25%)

Minnesota Vikings

Key Player: Kirk Cousins

Setting: Between one and two

Group: Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, Tyler Conklin, K.J. Osborn

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk (+15%), Jauan Jennings (+15%)

New England Patriots

Key Player: Mac Jones

Setting: At least one

Group: Jakobi Meyers, Nelson Agholor (+15%), Kendrick Bourne (+15%), Hunter Henry (Q), Jonnu Smith (Q)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Nick Westbrook, Dez Fitzpatrick, Chester Rogers, Anthony Firkser (-10%), Geoff Swaim (Q) (-10%) (A.J. Brown has been moved from out to the IR, he will not play Week 12)

New York Giants

Key Player: Daniel Jones

Setting: At least one

Group: Saquon Barkley (Q), Kenny Golladay (+15%), Darius Slayton (Q) (+15%), Evan Engram, Collin Johnson (+25%), John Ross (+25%) (Kadarius Toney is doubtful and Sterling Shepard is out for Week 12. Barkley is expected to play but is a game-time decision after trending in a positive direction)

Opposing Setting: At least one

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

New York Jets

Key Player: Zach Wilson

Setting: At least one

Group: Ty Johnson, Jamison Crowder, Elijah Moore (+10%), Braxton Berrios (+15%), Keelan Cole (+15%), Ryan Griffin (+15%) (Michael Carter and Corey Davis are out for Week 12)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Brandin Cooks (-10%), David Johnson (-10%), Pharaoh Brown, Danny Amendola (+35%), Nico Collins (+35%)

Philadelphia Eagles

Key Player: Jalen Hurts

Setting: At least one

Group: Miles Sanders (-15%), DeVonta Smith (+10%), Dallas Goedert (-10%), Quez Watkins (+25%), Jalen Reagor (+25%)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Saquon Barkley (Q) (-25%), Kenny Golladay (+15%), Darius Slayton (+15%) (Q), Evan Engram, Collin Johnson (+15%), John Ross (+15%)

Pittsburgh Steelers

Key Player: Ben Roethlisberger

Setting: At least one

Group: Najee Harris, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool (+15%), Pat Freiermuth (-15%), James Washington (+50%)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Joe Mixon (-25%), Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, CJ Uzomah

San Francisco 49ers

Key Player: Jimmy Garoppolo

Setting: At least one

Group: Deebo Samuel (-10%), George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk (+25%), Jauan Jennings (+35%) (Running back Elijah Mitchell is expected to play but remains a game-time decision)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Dalvin Cook (-25%), Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen (+10%), Tyler Conklin, K.J. Osborn (+35%)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Key Player: Tom Brady

Setting: At least one

Group: Chris Godwin, Leonard Fournette (+10%), Mike Evans (Q) (+10%), Rob Gronkowski, Tyler Johnson (+25%) (Antonio Brown is out again for Week 12)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Jonathan Taylor, Michael Pittman Jr., T.Y. Hilton (+15%), Zach Pascal (+15%), Nyheim Hines, Jack Doyle, Mo Allie-Cox

Tennessee Titans

Key Player: Ryan Tannehill

Setting: At least one

Group: Nick Westbrook, Dez Fitzpatrick, Chester Rogers, Anthony Firkser (-10%), Geoff Swaim (Q) (-10%) (A.J. Brown has been placed on IR and will miss several weeks)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Jakobi Meyers, Nelson Agholor (+15%), Kendrick Bourne (+15%), Hunter Henry (Q), Jonnu Smith (Q)


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If you’re interested in other NFL DFS strategy for multiple game slates, head over to NFL DFS projected ownership, Awesemo's NFL Data Central, NFL DFS rankings, and NFL DFS stacks. Take a look at our NFL line-ups, inactives list and NFL depth charts. View our FanDuel DFS NFL ownership rankings and our DraftKings NFL rankings. We also have DraftKings showdown projections and NFL showdown ownership projections.

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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