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Optimizer Groups: Week 9 Sunday NFL DFS Optimal Lineup Strategy on DraftKings & FanDuel – Sunday Update

Terry McBride

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Week 9 features a loaded slate of NFL DFS action with highly totaled games throughout the day on Sunday. With numerous games projected in the high 40s into the 50s there are many directions that the slate can go, leaving a wide array of potential lineup constructions. While the goal of this article is to create a broad pool of entries, it should be considered in conjunction with tools like the Top Stacks and Boom/Bust when sorting for the best entries among those lineups. Taking advantage of Awesemo’s simulated slate results with our NFL DFS optimizer picks to follow the most optimal construction paths available when stacking each team, while still keeping an eye on leverage and boom score probability is a strong approach to building a pool of lineups that will chase the top of tournament standings in NFL DFS contests on DraftKings and FanDuel.

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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.

For a look at some of the best value plays to plug into your DraftKings, FanDuel and Yahoo lineups, check out Billy Ward’s Week 9 Low Priced Value Plays article.

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 9 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. 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.

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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.

Week 9 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 9 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

There are numerous critical changes to player boost recommendations built into this week’s Sunday Update. Without these changes, several teams will come up with disproportionate shares of skill player correlations across lineups. While we want to get to many of the premium pairings, that is something that is better handled in the sorting process after creating a pool of lineups that has a broader allowance for alternate skill players from each team, within that team’s set of grouped lineups. For example, without the recommended boosts and downgrades, a 500 lineup run of the Panthers vs Patriots game would result in lineups that included DJ Moore at a rate of more than 80% while using Jakobi Meyers as the run-back receiver in more than 75%. That is obviously a high-end pairing for lineups that come from that game, but we do not want to have such a large pool of exclusively that combination, at the expense of all other possibilities for GPP play. As always, keep an eye on news and be sure to run test crunches to make sure to account for any changes that arise.

NFL DFS Optimizer Picks: Week 9 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 (Q) (Murray is a major question mark, Colt McCoy will get the start if Murray cannot go, this is potentially a major inflection point for the slate)

Setting: At least one

Group: DeAndre Hopkins (Q) (+15%), Christian Kirk (+15%), Rondale Moore, Chase Edmonds, Zach Ertz (+15%), Antonie Wesley (+25%) (Hopkins is a true game-time decision. AJ Green is out for Week 9)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Deebo Samuel (Q) (-25%), George Kittle (-10%), Brandon Aiyuk (+25%), Mohamed Sanu (+25%) (Eli Mitchell (Q) comes up far too frequently if he is included; George Kittle will be back for Week 9)

Atlanta Falcons

Key Player: Matt Ryan

Setting: At least one

Group: Kyle Pitts (-25%), Cordarrelle Patterson (-25%), Mike Davis, Hayden Hurst, Russell Gage (+25%), Tajae Sharpe (+20%)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Alvin Kamara (-15%), Marquez Callaway (+15%), Deonte Harris (+15%), Adam Trautman, Tre’Quan Smith (+25%)

Baltimore Ravens

Key Player: Lamar Jackson

Setting: At least one

Group: Mark Andrews, Marquise Brown (+10%), Rashod Bateman (Q), Sammy Watkins (Q) (Bateman and Watkins are expected to play)

Opposing Setting: At least one

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

Buffalo Bills

Key Player: Josh Allen

Setting: Between one and two

Group: Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley, Emmanuel Sanders (+15%), Tommy Sweeney, Gabriel Davis (Dawson Knox is out again for Week 9)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: James Robinson (Q) (-35%), Marvin Jones, Laviska Shenault (+15%), Dan Arnold (-15%), Jamal Agnew (+15%)

Carolina Panthers

Key Player: Sam Darnold (Q) (Darnold will test his injury pregame, he has cleared concussion protocol)

Setting: At least one

Group: DJ Moore (-15%), Christian McCaffrey (+25%), Robby Anderson (+25%), Terrace Marshall Jr (+35%) (This group gets trimmed to a smaller list with McCaffrey expected to play. He is more difficult than one would expect to get to, given a limited projection and high price, hence the large boost, adjust as needed, see the Sunday Update notes above for more on why the boosts are needed for this game)

Opposing Setting: At least one

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

Cincinnati Bengals

Key Player: Joe Burrow

Setting: At least one

Group: Tyler Boyd, JaMarr Chase, CJ Uzomah, Tee Higgins

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Jarvis Landry (-15%), Rashard Higgins (+25%), Austin Hooper, David Njoku, Donovan Peoples-Jones (+25%) (Odell Beckham Jr. is no longer a member of the Browns, Peoples-Jones is expected to play and to start)

Cleveland Browns

Key Player: Baker Mayfield

Setting: At least one

Group: Jarvis Landry (-15%), Rashard Higgins (+25%), Austin Hooper, David Njoku, Donovan Peoples-Jones (Q) (+25%) (the Browns cut Odell Beckham Jr. on Friday)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: JaMarr Chase, Tyler Boyd (+10%), Tee Higgins, CJ Uzomah, Joe Mixon (-15%)

Dallas Cowboys

Key Player: Dak Prescott

Setting: At least one

Group: Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb (Q), Cedrick Wilson (+25%), Dalton Schultz, Ezekiel Elliott (-25%), Tony Pollard (Noah Brown is playable in massive field tournaments)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick, Albert Okwuegbunam (-15%)

Denver Broncos

Key Player: Teddy Bridgewater

Setting: At least one

Group: Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick, Albert Okwuegbunam (Q) (-15%) (Tight end Noah Fant is out for Week 9)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb (Q), Cedrick Wilson, Dalton Schultz, Ezekiel Elliott (-25%), Tony Pollard

Green Bay Packers

Key Player: Jordan Love (Aaron Rodgers is out for Week 9 with a case of stupidity)

Setting: At least one

Group: Davante Adams (-10%), Aaron Jones, Randall Cobb (+35%), AJ Dillon, Marquez Valdes-Scantling (+35%), Allen Lazard (+35%), Marcedes Lewis (Taking more of a chunk out of Adams will create a broader mix of Packers receiver shares, at this level he still comes up with great frequency)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Tyreek Hill (-10%), Travis Kelce (-10%), Mecole Hardman (+20%), Byron Pringle (+35%) (Josh Gordon and Demarcus Robinson are fringe options)

Houston Texans

Key Player: Tyrod Taylor (Taylor is expected back from injury in Week 9)

Setting: At least one

Group: Brandin Cooks (-15%), Jordan Akins, David Johnson, Nico Collins (+25%), Danny Amendola (+25%)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Myles Gaskin, Jaylen Waddle, Mike Gesicki, Preston Williams (+35%), Mack Hollins (+35%) (DeVante Parker is on IR as of Friday)

Jacksonville Jaguars

Key Player: Trevor Lawrence

Setting: At least one

Group: James Robinson (Q), Laviska Shenault (+15%), Marvin Jones (+10%), Dan Arnold (-15%), Jamal Agnew (+15%) (Robinson will test his injury pre-game and seems like a true game-time decision)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley, Emmanuel Sanders (+15%), Zack Moss, Tommy Sweeney

Kansas City Chiefs

Key Player: Patrick Mahomes

Setting: Between one and two

Group: Tyreek Hill (-10%), Travis Kelce (-10%), Mecole Hardman, Byron Pringle (+25%) (Josh Gordon and Demarcus Robinson can be added for large field formats, they require fairly massive boosts to appear at all in group shares)

Opposing Setting: Between one and two

Group: Davante Adams, Aaron Jones, Randall Cobb (+15%), AJ Dillon, Marquez Valdes-Scantling (+15%), Allen Lazard (+15%), Marcedes Lewis

Las Vegas Raiders

Key Player: Derek Carr

Setting: At least one

Group: Darren Waller (-15%), Hunter Renfrow (-15%), Bryan Edwards (+15%), Josh Jacobs, Zay Jones (+15%) (Henry Ruggs III was released and will be brought up on well-deserved charges)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: DeVontae Booker (-35%), Kadarius Toney, Kenny Golladay (+15%), Darius Slayton (+15%), Evan Engram

Los Angeles Chargers

Key Player: Justin Herbert

Setting: Between one and two

Group: Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Jalen Guyton (+35%), Jared Cook (+10%), Austin Ekeler

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Dallas Goedert (-10%), DeVonta Smith, Quez Watkins (+15%), Kenneth Gainwell, Jalen Reagor (+15%)

Miami Dolphins

Key Player: Tua Tagovailoa (Q)

Setting: At least one

Group: Mike Gesicki (-10%), Jaylen Waddle, Myles Gaskin (-10%), Preston Williams (+35%), Mack Hollins (+35%) (Isaiah Ford for deep formats)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Brandin Cooks (-15%), Jordan Akins, David Johnson, Nico Collins (+15%), Danny Amendola (+15%)

Minnesota Vikings

Key Player: Kirk Cousins

Setting: At least one

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

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Mark Andrews, Marquise Brown, Rashod Bateman (Q) (+15%), Sammy Watkins (Q)

New England Patriots

Key Player: Mac Jones

Setting: At least one

Group: Jakobi Meyers (-10%), Nelson Agholor (+15%), Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry, Kendrick Bourne (+15%)

Opposing Setting: At least one

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

New Orleans Saints

Key Player: Trevor Siemian (Siemian will start after Jameis Winston’s season ended with an injury last weekend)

Setting: At least one

Group: Alvin Kamara (+10%), Marquez Callaway (+10%), Deonte Harris (+10%), Adam Trautman, Tre’Quan Smith (+25%)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Kyle Pitts (-15%), Cordarrelle Patterson, Mike Davis, Tajae Sharpe (+35%), Russell Gage (+35%), Hayden Hurst

New York Giants

Key Player: Daniel Jones

Setting: At least one

Group: Devontae Booker (-10%), Kadarius Toney (-15%), Kenny Golladay (Q) (+15%), Darius Slayton (+25%), Evan Engram (+20%) (Saquon Barkley is out for Week 9, Golladay may return)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Darren Waller, Hunter Renfrow, Bryan Edwards (+15%), Josh Jacobs, Zay Jones (+25%)

Philadelphia Eagles

Key Player: Jalen Hurts

Setting: At least one

Group: Dallas Goedert (-15%), DeVonta Smith, Quez Watkins (+15%), Jalen Reagor (+15%), Kenneth Gainwell

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Jalen Guyton (+50%), Jared Cook, Austin Ekeler (-15%)

San Francisco 49ers

Key Player: Jimmy Garoppolo

Setting: At least one

Group: George Kittle (-15%), Deebo Samuel (-15%) (Q), Brandon Aiyuk (+25%), Mohamed Sanu (+25%), Eli Mitchell (-15%) (Q) (Kittle will return for Week 9, Samuel and Mitchell are both expected to play)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: DeAndre Hopkins (Q) (+15%), Christian Kirk (+15%), Rondale Moore, Chase Edmonds (-15%), Zach Ertz (+15%), Antonie Wesley (+35%)


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Take a look at our NFL lineups, depth charts for NFL games and inactives. If you’re interested in other DFS NFL advice for multiple game slates, head over to DFS NFL projected ownership, Awesemo's NFL Data Central, daily fantasy football rankings, and DFS NFL stacking. View our FanDuel NFL DFS rankings and our DraftKings NFL DFS ownership rankings. We also have NFL single-game projections and NFL single-game 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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