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Optimizer Groups: Week 5 Sunday NFL DFS Optimal Lineup Strategy on DraftKings & FanDuel – Sunday Update

Terry McBride

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NFL DFS Lineup Picks DraftKings FanDuel Optimizer Groups Tournament Strategy

Week 5 of the NFL DFS season brings a slightly smaller slate for the first time, with the Jets and Falcons squaring off in London during the early morning hours for the U.S. audience. There are still 12 games on the slate, though only two contests on the board have game totals over 50 this week. With one of those games including the unreliable New York Giants offense, we could certainly be looking at just one high-scoring game. As usual, large portions of the field are drawn to the more highly totaled games and the clear value plays on the board. These groups attempt to work within the framework of allowing some of the value plays, but also providing additional options for enhanced consideration within our optimized builds. Getting to a highly diversified portfolio of well-constructed lineups is the name of the game for Week 5 NFL DFS lineups for 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.

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 following 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 5 NFL DFS Optimizer Groups – 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. The Week 5 slate 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 4 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 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 4 NFL DFS Optimizer Picks 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

All of today’s available in/out information has been accounted for up until about 7am EST. In-group boosts have been applied to create a balanced set of lineups within each specific team stack. There are several key injury situations to watch leading up to lock, be sure to adjust accordingly. Anyone using Fantasy Cruncher through Awesemo would do well to carefully curate the player pool this week, as there are numerous players carrying a default of five or six who are not projected in the site’s numbers. Be sure to remove these players from the player pool prior to running a crunch, an easy indicator is their lack of letter grades in the app.

NFL DFS Optimizer Picks: Week 5 Team Groups

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: Chase Edmonds (Q), DeAndre Hopkins (+15%), Christian Kirk (+15%), Rondale Moore, A.J. Green, Maxx Williams (James Conner seems a likely candidate to vulture a touchdown in this offense)

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Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Deebo Samuel, Trey Sermon, Eli Mitchell, Brandon Aiyuk (+15%), Mohamed Sanu (+15%)

Carolina Panthers

Key Player: Sam Darnold

Setting: At least one

Group: D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson, Terrace Marshall Jr. (+15%), Tommy Tremble (running back Rodney Smith saw five targets last week and could be in play in the passing game with Christian McCaffrey out once again)

Opposing Setting: At least one

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

Chicago Bears

Key Player: Justin Fields (the Bears finally announced that this job belongs to Fields for good going forward)

Setting: At least one

Group: Allen Robinson, Darnell Mooney, Cole Kmet, Damiere Byrd, Marquise Goodwin (we should see natural shares of Damien Williams as a value play along with these)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Darren Waller, Hunter Renfrow (+25%), Henry Ruggs III (+25%), Bryan Edwards (+25%), Kenyan Drake

Cincinnati Bengals

Key Player: Joe Burrow

Setting: At least one

Group: Joe Mixon (Q), Ja’Marr Chase, Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins, C.J. Uzomah

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Davante Adams, Aaron Jones, Allen Lazard (+15%), Randall Cobb (+15%), Robert Tonyan

Cleveland Browns

Key Player: Baker Mayfield

Setting: Between one and two

Group: Odell Beckham Jr. (+10%), Kareem Hunt, Austin Hooper, Rashard Higgins, Donovan Peoples-Jones (+15%) (Anthony Schwartz can be added for deep formats)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams (+15%), Jared Cook, Jalen Guyton (+35%)

Dallas Cowboys

Key Player: Dak Prescott

Setting: Between one and two

Group: Ezekiel Elliott (Q), CeeDee Lamb, Amari Cooper (Q), Dalton Schultz, Cedrick Wilson (+25%), Blake Jarwin

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Saquon Barkley (+10%), Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, Evan Engram, John Ross III, Kyle Rudolph

Denver Broncos

Key Player: Teddy Bridgewater

Setting: At least one

Group: Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick, Noah Fant (Albert Okwuegbunam is out)

Opposing Setting: At least one

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

Detroit Lions

Key Player: Jared Goff

Setting: At least one

Group: D’Andre Swift (Q) (+10%), T.J. Hockenson (Q) (-10%), Quintez Cephus, Kalif Raymond, Amon-Ra St. Brown (+15%) (Trinity Benson in deep formats)

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Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen (+15%), K.J. Osborn (+25%), Tyler Conklin (+25%)

Green Bay Packers

Key Player: Aaron Rodgers

Setting: At least one

Group: Davante Adams, Aaron Jones, Allen Lazard (+15%), Randall Cobb (+15%), Robert Tonyan

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Joe Mixon (Q) (-25%), Ja’Marr Chase, Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins (+10%), C.J. Uzomah

Houston Texans

Key Player: Davis Mills

Setting: At least one

Group: Brandin Cooks, Jordan Akins, Danny Amendola (+25%), Chris Conley (Anthony Miller is out for Week 5)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Jakobi Meyers, Nelson Agholor (+15%), Kendrick Bourne (+25%), Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith

Jacksonville Jaguars

Key Player: Trevor Lawrence

Setting: At least one

Group: James Robinson, Marvin Jones Jr., Laviska Shenault Jr., Tavon Austin, Dan Arnold (Tyron Johnson for deep formats)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Derrick Henry, A.J. Brown, Anthony Firkser, Chester Rogers (+20%), Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, Josh Reynolds (+20%)

Las Vegas Raiders

Key Player: Derek Carr

Setting: At least one

Group: Darren Waller (-15%), Hunter Renfrow (+15%), Henry Ruggs III (+15%), Bryan Edwards (+25%), Kenyan Drake (Josh Jacobs can be added, he saw five targets last week)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Allen Robinson, Darnell Mooney, Cole Kmet, Damiere Byrd, Marquise Goodwin (Damien Williams will come up with this group at times, so limit that possibility with a rule if you do not want multiple run-back players)

Los Angeles Chargers

Key Player: Justin Herbert

Setting: At least one

Group: Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams (+20%), Jared Cook (-15%), Jalen Guyton (+45%)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Odell Beckham Jr. (+15%), Kareem Hunt, Austin Hooper, Rashard Higgins, Donovan Peoples-Jones

Miami Dolphins

Key Player: Jacoby Brissett

Setting: At least one

Group: Myles Gaskin, DeVante Parker (Q), Jaylen Waddle, Mike Gesicki, Albert Wilson (Will Fuller is hurt again and has been placed on IR)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Leonard Fournette, Chris Godwin, Mike Evans (+15%), Antonio Brown, Cameron Brate, O.J. Howard

Minnesota Vikings

Key Player: Kirk Cousins

Setting: Between one and two

Group: Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen (+15%), K.J. Osborn, Tyler Conklin

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Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: D’Andre Swift, T.J. Hockenson, Quintez Cephus, Kalif Raymond (+15%), Amon-Ra St. Brown (+15%)

New England Patriots

Key Player: Mac Jones

Setting: At least one

Group: Jakobi Meyers, Nelson Agholor (+15%), Kendrick Bourne (+25%), Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Brandin Cooks (-15%), Jordan Akins, Danny Amendola (+15%), Chris Conley (+15%)

New Orleans Saints

Key Player: Jameis Winston

Setting: At least one

Group: Alvin Kamara, Marquez Callaway, Deonte Harris, Adam Trautman

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Antonio Gibson (Q), Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel (Q) (+15%), Ricky Seals-Jones, Adam Humphries (+15%)

New York Giants

Key Player: Daniel Jones

Setting: At least one

Group: Saquon Barkley (+15%), Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney (+15%), Evan Engram (+15%), Kyle Rudolph (C.J. Board and John Ross III are dart throws in large formats with Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton out once again)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Ezekiel Elliott (Q), CeeDee Lamb, Amari Cooper (Q), Dalton Schultz, Cedrick Wilson, Blake Jarwin

Philadelphia Eagles

Key Player: Jalen Hurts

Setting: At least one

Group: Miles Sanders, DeVonta Smith, Dallas Goedert, Jalen Reagor (15%), Quez Watkins (15%), Zach Ertz (Greg Ward for very large contests)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson, Terrace Marshall Jr., Tommy Tremble

Pittsburgh Steelers

Key Player: Ben Roethlisberger

Setting: At least one

Group: Najee Harris, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Eric Ebron, Pat Freiermuth

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick, Noah Fant

San Francisco 49ers

Key Player: Trey Lance (Jimmy Garoppolo is out for Week 5)

Setting: Between one and two

Group: Deebo Samuel, Trey Sermon, Eli Mitchell, Brandon Aiyuk (15%), Mohamed Sanu (25%), Ross Dwelley (George Kittle is out for Week 5)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Chase Edmonds (Q), DeAndre Hopkins, Christian Kirk (15%), Rondale Moore (15%), A.J. Green, Maxx Williams

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Key Player: Tom Brady

Setting: Between one and two

Group: Leonard Fournette, Chris Godwin, Mike Evans (10%), Antonio Brown, Cameron Brate, O.J. Howard (Rob Gronkowski is out again for Week 5)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Myles Gaskin, DeVante Parker (Q), Jaylen Waddle, Mike Gesicki, Albert Wilson (Will Fuller is hurt again and has been placed on IR)

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Tennessee Titans

Key Player: Ryan Tannehill

Setting: At least one

Group: Derrick Henry, A.J. Brown, Anthony Firkser, Chester Rogers (15%), Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, Josh Reynolds (15%) (Julio Jones is out for Week 5)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: James Robinson, Marvin Jones Jr., Laviska Shenault Jr., Tavon Austin (15%), Dan Arnold

Washington Football Team

Key Player: Taylor Heinicke

Setting: At least one

Group: Antonio Gibson (Q), Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel (Q) (15%), Ricky Seals-Jones, Adam Humphries (15%)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Alvin Kamara, Marquez Callaway, Deonte Harris, Adam Trautman


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If you’re interested in other DFS NFL picks for multiple game slates, head over to NFL DFS ownership projections, Awesemo's NFL Data Central, NFL rankings, and DFS NFL stacking. Take a look at our NFL starting lineups, NFL depth charts and inactive players.

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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