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Optimizer Groups: Week 15 Sunday NFL DFS Optimal Lineup Strategy on DraftKings & FanDuel – Sunday Update

Terry McBride

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A chaotic Week 15 slate has been cut from 11 to nine games as of late Friday. The Rams vs Seahawks and Eagles vs Football Team games have been moved to early next week as the NFL attempts to stay ahead of the COVID-19 exposure curve. The league is dealing with numerous absences and questionable situations, making news over the weekend and going into the slate more important than ever. Values can emerge from all corners on a slate such as this one, or another game could fall off of the schedule entirely. It will be of paramount importance to get to premium plays on this slate, there are no games totaled above the 47.5 over/under in the Cardinals vs Lions game, meaning we could see a low-scoring Sunday across NFL DFS. The chaos should create opportunity around solid lineup construction and highly optimal positively leveraged plays, following the Boom/Bust and Top Stacks tools is key to not only lineup construction but differentiation and lineup selection for both FanDuel and DraftKings NFL DFS slates.

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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 15 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 15 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 15 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

This week’s Sunday Update includes numerous recommendations for boosts and downgrades to tweak in-group player exposures. There are also several running backs that require inclusion in groups to control overall exposures, as well as a few who would warrant ownership caps in full crunches despite being strong value plays. The goal is to create a diverse pool of lineups, which requires driving plays through a variety of shares at the running back position.


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NFL DFS Optimizer Picks: Week 15 Team Groups for DraftKings & FanDuel

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.

Arizona Cardinals

Key Player: Kyler Murray

Setting: Between one and two

Group: Christian Kirk, Rondale Moore (+15%), Zach Ertz (Q) (-10%), A.J. Green (+15%), Antoine Wesley (+25%), James Conner (-10%) (Conner is trending toward playing in early morning reporting)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Jamaal Williams (-15%), Amon-Ra St. Brown, Josh Reynolds (Q) (+25%), Kalif Raymond (+35%), Brock Wright (+15%)

Atlanta Falcons

Key Player: Matt Ryan

Setting: Between one and two

Group: Cordarrelle Patterson (+10%), Russell Gage, Kyle Pitts (-10%), Tajae Sharpe (+35%), Hayden Hurst (+35%), Olamide Zaccheaus (+35%)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Deebo Samuel (-15%), George Kittle (-10%), Jeff Wilson Jr., Brandon Aiyuk (+15%), Jauan Jennings (+35%)

Baltimore Ravens

Key Player: Lamar Jackson (Q) (Tyler Huntley will get the start if Jackson’s injury keeps him out of this one)

Setting: At least one

Group: Marquise Brown, Mark Andrews (-10%), Rashod Bateman (+35%), Devin Duvernay (+35%), (Sammy Watkins was placed on the COVID-19 list)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Davante Adams (-15%), Aaron Jones, A.J. Dillon, Marquez Valdes-Scantling (Q) (+35%), Allen Lazard (+35%), Josiah Deguara

Buffalo Bills

Key Player: Josh Allen

Setting: At least one

Group: Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley, Gabriel Davis, Dawson Knox (Emmanuel Sanders is out for Week 15)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: DJ Moore (Q) (-15%), Robby Anderson (+25%), Brandon Zylstra (+35%), Terrace Marshall Jr. (+35%), Tommy Tremble

Carolina Panthers

Key Player: Cam Newton

Setting: At least one

Group: DJ Moore (Q) (-15%), Robby Anderson, Brandon Zylstra (+35%), Terrace Marshall Jr. (+35%), Tommy Tremble (Moore is expected to play after being limited all week)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley, Gabriel Davis, Dawson Knox

Cincinnati Bengals

Key Player: Joe Burrow

Setting: Between one and two

Group: Joe Mixon (-10%), Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd (+10%), C.J. Uzomah (+15%)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Javonte Williams, Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton (+15%), Noah Fant, Tim Patrick (+20%), Albert Okwuegbunam

Dallas Cowboys

Key Player: Dak Prescott

Setting: Between one and two

Group: Ezekiel Elliott (-10%), CeeDee Lamb, Amari Cooper (+15%), Tony Pollard (Q), Michael Gallup (+15%), Dalton Schultz, (Cedrick Wilson (+35%) can be added for deep formats)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Saquon Barkley (-15%), Sterling Shepard (Q), Kenny Golladay (+20%), Evan Engram (+10%), Darius Slayton (+20%), Kyle Rudolph

Denver Broncos

Key Player: Teddy Bridgewater

Setting: At least one

Group: Javonte Williams, Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton (+15%), Noah Fant, Tim Patrick (+25%), Albert Okwuegbunam

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Joe Mixon (-10%), Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd (+15%), C.J. Uzomah (+15%)

Detroit Lions

Key Player: Jared Goff

Setting: At least one

Group: Jamaal Williams (-15%), Amon-Ra St. Brown, Josh Reynolds (Q) (+25%), Kalif Raymond (+25%), Brock Williams (D’Andre Swift is out again in Week 15)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: James Conner (Q) (-10%), Christian Kirk (-10%), Rondale Moore (+15%), Zach Ertz (Q) (-10%), A.J. Green (+15%), Antoine Wesley (+25%)

Green Bay Packers

Key Player: Aaron Rodgers

Setting: At least one

Group: Davante Adams (-15%), Aaron Jones, A.J. Dillon, Marquez Valdes-Scantling (Q) (+25%), Allen Lazard (+35%), Josiah Deguara

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Marquise Brown, Mark Andrews (-20%), Rashod Bateman (+25%), Devin Duvernay (+25%)

Houston Texans

Key Player: Davis Mills

Setting: At least one

Group: Brandin Cooks (-15%), David Johnson, Nico Collins (+35%), Brevin Jordan, Pharaoh Brown, Phillip Dorsett (+35%), Chris Conley (+35%)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: James Robinson (-25%), Marvin Jones Jr., Laviska Shenault Jr. (+25%), Laquon Treadwell (+25%), James O’Shaughnessey

Jacksonville Jaguars

Key Player: Trevor Lawrence

Setting: At least one

Group: James Robinson (-25%), Marvin Jones Jr., Laviska Shenault Jr. (+25%), Laquon Treadwell (+25%), James O’Shaughnessey

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Brandin Cooks (-15%), David Johnson, Nico Collins (+25%), Brevin Jordan, Pharaoh Brown, Phillip Dorsett (+25%), Chris Conley (+25%)

Miami Dolphins

Key Player: Tua Tagovailoa

Setting: At least one

Group: DeVante Parker, Mike Gesicki (-20%), Albert Wilson (+35%), Preston Williams (+35%), Mack Hollins (+25%) (Jaylen Waddle is out for Week 15)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Michael Carter, Jamison Crowder, Keelan Cole Sr. (+25%), Braxton Berrios (+25%), (D.J. Montgomery (+35%) and Denzel Mims (+35%) can be added for deep formats)

New York Giants

Key Player: Mike Glennon (Daniel Jones is out again in Week 15)

Setting: At least one

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

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Ezekiel Elliott, CeeDee Lamb, Amari Cooper (+15%), Tony Pollard (Q), Michael Gallup (+15%), Dalton Schultz

New York Jets

Key Player: Zach Wilson

Setting: At least one

Group: Michael Carter, Jamison Crowder, Keelan Cole Sr., Braxton Berrios, D.J. Montgomery

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Myles Gaskin, DeVante Parker, Mike Gesicki (-10%), Albert Wilson (+15%), Preston Williams (+35%), Mack Hollins (+35%)

Pittsburgh Steelers

Key Player: Ben Roethlisberger

Setting: At least one

Group: Diontae Johnson (-10%), Chase Claypool (+25%), Pat Freiermuth, Ray-Ray McCloud (+35%), James Washington (+35%), Najee Harris

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: D’Onta Foreman, Julio Jones, Nick Westbrook (+15%), Anthony Firkser, Geoff Swaim, Chester Rogers (+35%), Cody Hollister (+35%)

San Francisco 49ers

Key Player: Jimmy Garoppolo

Setting: At least one

Group: Deebo Samuel (-15%), George Kittle (-10%), Jeff Wilson Jr., Brandon Aiyuk (+25%), Jauan Jennings (+35%)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Cordarrelle Patterson (-10%), Russell Gage, Kyle Pitts, Tajae Sharpe (+35%), Hayden Hurst, Olamide Zaccheaus (+35%)

Tennessee Titans

Key Player: Ryan Tannehill

Setting: Between one and two

Group: D’Onta Foreman, Julio Jones, Nick Westbrook, Anthony Firkser, Geoff Swaim, Chester Rogers (+35%), Cody Hollister (+35%)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool (+25%), Pat Freiermuth, Ray-Ray McCloud (+35%), James Washington (+35%), Najee Harris (-15%)


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

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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