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Optimizer Groups: Week 18 Sunday NFL DFS Optimal Lineup Strategy on DraftKings & FanDuel – Sunday Update

Terry McBride

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NFL DFS Optimizer Groups NFL Sunday DraftKings FanDuel

The first-ever Week 18 regular season slate features a split with two games on Saturday Night (Saturday version of this article) and a huge 13-game Sunday main slate on both DraftKings and FanDuel. The main slate is loaded with opportunities for NFL DFS roster construction, despite a Vegas board that includes several chasmic point spreads and no game totaled above the 48-points on the board in the Seattle vs Arizona contest. Still, with a wide-ranging list of players who will be absent creating values from all sides, there are plenty of opportunities to make differentiated plays that have upside while also helping access combinations of some of the highest-priced stars on the slate.

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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.

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Week 18 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

The Sunday update includes some best guesses at situations, as well as any confirmed status news in the current projection set. This week more than ever, paying attention to news pre and post-lock will be critical. There are a number of running backs included in groups and a large number of in-group boosts and downgrades to shuffle distribution. In cases with teams such as the Packers, where the primary skill players are not expected to play the entire game, the groups are configured to deliver fewer shares of players like Davante Adams, favoring instead the backups. These situations are unpredictable and only for those with enough risk tolerance for the situation.


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NFL DFS Optimizer Picks: Week 18 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: Zach Ertz (-15%), Christian Kirk, A.J. Green (+15%), James Conner (-15%), Antoine Wesley (+35%), Greg Dortch (+50%) (Rondale Moore is out for Week 18)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Rashaad Penny, DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Gerald Everett Freddie Swain (+50%) (Will Dissly can be added for differentiation)

Atlanta Falcons

Key Player: Matt Ryan

Setting: Between one and two

Group: Cordarrelle Patterson (+25%), Kyle Pitts (Q) (-10%), Russell Gage, Olamide Zaccheaus (+35%), Tajae Sharpe (+35%), Hayden Hurts, Mike Davis (+15%)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Alvin Kamara, Marquez Callaway, Deonte Harris, Tre’Quan Smith (+15%), Adam Trautman (+35%), Lil’Jordan Humphrey, Juwan Johnson (+50%)

Baltimore Ravens

Key Player: Tyler Huntley (Lamar Jackson is out for Week 18)

Setting: At least one

Group: Marquise Brown (-15%), Mark Andrews (+15%), Rashod Bateman, Devin Duvernay (Q) (+50%) (Sammy Watkins can be added as a low-volume tournament dart throw if desired, he would need a major boost to land in any lineups)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Najee Harris (+10%), Diontae Johnson (+15%), Chase Claypool, Pat Freiermuth, Ray-Ray McCloud (+35%), James Washington (+50%)

Buffalo Bills

Key Player: Josh Allen

Setting: At least one

Group: Stefon Diggs (+10%), Cole Beasley (+15%), Dawson Knox (+20%), Gabriel Davis, Isaiah McKenzie (+50%), Devin Singletary (Emmanuel Sanders is out for Week 18)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Michael Carter (-30%), Jamison Crowder (-10%), Keelan Cole Sr., Jeff Smith (+35%), Tyler Kroft (+35%), Denzel Mims (+50%)

Carolina Panthers

Key Player: Sam Darnold

Setting: At least one

Group: DJ Moore, Robby Anderson (Q) (+15%), Brandon Zylstra (+15%), Ian Thomas, Tommy Tremble

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Mike Evans, Rob Gronkowski, Cyril Grayson (+15%), Tyler Johnson (+15%), Breshard Perriman (+50%), Cameron Brate (+50%)

Chicago Bears

Key Player: Andy Dalton

Setting: At least one

Group: David Montgomery, Darnell Mooney, Allen Robinson II, Cole Kmet, Damiere Byrd (+50%), Marquise Goodwin (+50%), Jimmy Graham (+125%)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Dalvin Cook (-15%), Justin Jefferson, K.J. Osborn (+25%), Tyler Conklin, Dede Westbrook (+50%)

Cincinnati Bengals

Key Player: Brandon Allen (Joe Burrow will sit out Week 18)

Setting: At least one

Group: Ja’Marr Chase (+15%), Tee Higgins (+10%), Tyler Boyd (+20%), C.J. Uzomah (Q) (-35%), Mike Thomas (+30%), Trenton Irwin (+50%) (it is difficult to recommend this passing attack with most of the starters seemingly unlikely to play a full game. Running back Joe Mixon will miss Week 18.)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Nick Chubb (-35%), Jarvis Landry, Donovan Peoples-Jones (+15%), Austin Hooper, David Njoku (Q), Rashard Higgins (+25%)

Cleveland Browns

Key Player: Case Keenum (Baker Mayfield will sit week 18)

Setting: At least one

Group: Nick Chubb (-10%), Jarvis Landry, Donovan Peoples-Jones (+25%), Austin Hooper, David Njoku (Q), Rashard Higgins (+25%)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, C.J. Uzomah (Q) (-35%), Mike Thomas (+35%), Trenton Irwin (+50%)

Detroit Lions

Key Player: Jared Goff (Goff is expected to return for Week 18)

Setting: At least one

Group: D’Andre Swift, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Josh Reynolds (Q), Kalif Raymond, Brock Wright (Q)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Davante Adams (+25%), Aaron Jones, Marquez Valdes-Scantling (+10%), Allen Lazard (+10%), Amari Rodgers, Juwann Winfree, Josiah Deguara, Equanimeous St. Brown (+10%) (Rodgers and Winfree are the most likely to see action, the primary Packers skill players will largely rest in Week 18. This group is set up to return only a limited number of shares of Adams and other more familiar Packers receivers after the application of the boosts with their low point-per-dollar projections. It will be important to pay attention to active/inactive status)

Green Bay Packers

Key Player: Jordan Love (Aaron Rodgers is expected to start but he is projected for under 10 fantasy points and seems unlikely to play a significant amount of the game. However, that is guesswork and Rodgers is more than capable of posting a relevant score in a limited number of possessions)

Setting: At least one

Group: Davante Adams (+25%), Aaron Jones, Marquez Valdes-Scantling (+10%), Allen Lazard (+10%), Amari Rodgers, Juwann Winfree, Josiah Deguara, Equanimeous St. Brown (+10%) (Rodgers and Winfree are the most likely to see action, the primary Packers skill players will largely rest in Week 18. This group is set up to return only a limited number of shares of Adams and other more familiar Packers receivers after the application of the boosts with their low point-per-dollar projections. It will be important to pay attention to active/inactive status)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: D’Andre Swift, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Josh Reynolds (Q), Kalif Raymond, Brock Wright (Q)

Houston Texans

Key Player: Davis Mills

Setting: At least one

Group: Brandin Cooks, Nico Collins (+25%), Brevin Jordan, Danny Amendola (+50%), Chris Conley (+35%), Pharaoh Brown, Rex Burkhead

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: A.J. Brown, Julio Jones (+25%), Nick Westbrook (+35%), Geoff Swaim, Anthony Firkser

Indianapolis Colts

Key Player: Carson Wentz

Setting: At least one

Group: Jonathan Taylor (-15%), Michael Pittman Jr. (-10%), T.Y. Hilton (+25%), Nyheim Hines, Zach Pascal (+25%), Mo Alie-Cox, Jack Doyle

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Marvin Jones Jr., Laquon Treadwell, Laviska Shenault Jr., Dan Arnold, Tavon Austin (+50%)

Jacksonville Jaguars

Key Player: Trevor Lawrence

Setting: At least one

Group: Marvin Jones Jr., Laquon Treadwell, Laviska Shenault Jr., Dan Arnold, Tavon Austin (+50%)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Jonathan Taylor (-25%), Michael Pittman Jr. (-10%), T.Y. Hilton (+15%), Nyheim Hines, Zach Pascal (+15%), Mo Alie-Cox, Jack Doyle

Los Angeles Rams

Key Player: Matthew Stafford

Setting: Between one and two

Group: Cooper Kupp, Odell Beckham Jr., Tyler Higbee, Van Jefferson Jr., Ben Skowronek (+50%)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk, Jauan Jennings (+50%)

Miami Dolphins

Key Player: Tua Tagovailoa

Setting: At least one

Group: Jaylen Waddle, DeVante Parker, Mike Gesicki, Durham Smythe +35%) (Isaiah Ford, Albert Wilson, and/or Mack Hollins can be added with boosts here in tournaments as low-owned low-volume plays)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Jakobi Meyers (Q), Kendrick Bourne, Nelson Agholor (Q), Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith (+50%)

Minnesota Vikings

Key Player: Kirk Cousins

Setting: At least one

Group: Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson, K.J. Osborn (+15%), Tyler Conklin, Dede Westbrook (+35%)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: David Montgomery (-15%), Darnell Mooney, Allen Robinson II, Cole Kmet, Damiere Byrd (+50%), Marquise Goodwin (+50%), Jimmy Graham (+125%)

New England Patriots

Key Player: Mac Jones

Setting: At least one

Group: Jakobi Meyers (Q), Kendrick Bourne, Nelson Agholor (Q), Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith (+50%)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Jaylen Waddle, DeVante Parker, Mike Gesicki, Durham Smythe (+35%) (any of the minor WR options from the Miami group above can be added as dart throws in large-field tournaments as well)

New Orleans Saints

Key Player: Taysom Hill

Setting: At least one

Group: Alvin Kamara (+30%), Marquez Callaway, Deonte Harris, Tre’Quan Smith (+35%), Adam Trautman (+50%), Lil’Jordan Humphrey (+15%), Juwan Johnson

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Cordarrelle Patterson, Kyle Pitts (Q) (-10%), Russell Gage, Olamide Zaccheaus (+50%), Tajae Sharpe (+50%), Hayden Hurts

New York Giants

Key Player: Jake Fromm

Setting: At least one

Group: Saquon Barkley (+15%), Kenny Golladay, Evan Engram, Darius Slayton (+25%), Pharoh Cooper (+50%)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Antonio Gibson (-25%), Terry McLaurin, John Bates, Adam Humphries (+25%), Cam Sims (+25%)

New York Jets

Key Player: Zach Wilson

Setting: At least one

Group: Michael Carter (+25%), Jamison Crowder, Keelan Cole Sr. (+10%), Jeff Smith (+10%), Tyler Kroft, Denzel Mims (+50%) (Braxton Berrios is doubtful for Week 18)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley (+10%), Dawson Knox (+25%), Gabriel Davis

Pittsburgh Steelers

Key Player: Ben Roethlisberger

Setting: At least one

Group: Najee Harris (+15%), Diontae Johnson (+15%), Chase Claypool, Pat Freiermuth (-15%), Ray-Ray McCloud (+35%), James Washington (+50%)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Marquise Brown, Mark Andrews (+15%), Rashod Bateman, Devin Duvernay (Q) (+50%)

Seattle Seahawks

Key Player: Russell Wilson

Setting: Between one and two

Group: DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Gerald Everett, Will Dissly (+75%), Freddie Swain (+50%)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Zach Ertz (-25%), Christian Kirk, A.J. Green (+15%), Antoine Wesley (+25%), Greg Dortch (+50%)

San Francisco 49ers

Key Player: Jimmy Garoppolo (Q)

Setting: At least one

Group: Deebo Samuel, George Kittle (-15%), Brandon Aiyuk, Jauan Jennings (+75%)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Cooper Kupp, Odell Beckham Jr., Tyler Higbee, Van Jefferson Jr. (+15%), Ben Skowronek (+50%)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Key Player: Tom Brady

Setting: At least one

Group: Mike Evans, Rob Gronkowski, Cyril Grayson (+10%), Tyler Johnson (+10%), Breshad Perriman (+50%), Cameron Brate (+50%) (this lineup currently includes Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Le’Veon Bell, and Giovani Bernard in projections at running back, check back Sunday morning for any confirmations or changes)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: DJ Moore, Robby Anderson (Q) (+15%), Brandon Zylstra (+25%), Ian Thomas, Tommy Tremble

Tennessee Titans

Key Player: Ryan Tannehill

Setting: At least one

Group: A.J. Brown, Julio Jones (+25%), Nick Westbrook (+25%), Geoff Swaim, Anthony Firkser

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Brandin Cooks, Nico Collins (+25%), Brevin Jordan, Chris Conley (+50%), Danny Amendola (+50%), Pharaoh Brown

Washington Football Team

Key Player: Taylor Heinicke

Setting: At least one

Group: Antonio Gibson (-15%), Terry McLaurin, John Bates (-10%), Adam Humphries (+25%), Cam Sims (+25%)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Saquon Barkley (-15%), Kenny Golladay, Evan Engram, Darius Slayton (+25%), Pharoh Cooper (+35%)


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