The Thursday Night Football NFL DFS slate kicks off Christmas Eve Eve with an interesting tilt between the 8-6 San Francisco 49ers and the 9-5 Tennessee Titans. Both teams have played reasonably good football, relative to much of the league, and there are playable pieces on both sides, including a few from the top shelf of stardom. With a Vegas board that features a 45-point total and a three-point home underdog, we have a base of comparison that we have seen recently in our small sample size analysis, but the NFL DFS Showdown lineup options for DraftKings can be combined in a number of approaches to highly projected and uniquely differentiated lineups.
The Awesemo Top Showdown Plays Tool is the best way to find low-owned value and leverage, when using the tool we want to focus on the probability of success but also the degree to which a player is owned when compared with that probability and can indicate if the field is over or underweight to a play. Using all of the Awesemo expert data and tools, let’s find the top NFL DFS optimizer picks for DraftKings and FanDuel Showdown lineups tonight.
NFL DFS Optimizer Picks: Week 16 Thursday Night Football
Small Sample Central — Trends and Notes
Several of the primary lineup construction notes from previous versions of the article will continue to be listed in this space, but each week we will attempt to find parallels based on Vegas data and the general game environment from historical contests in the pool of DraftKings Showdown research from 2019 through this week’s contests. It is important to not get too focused on results-based thinking in such a small sample. Quality lineup construction is always the focus, but historical results can help inform some basic decisions in a pricing and ownership vacuum. A quick summary of that previous content:
- According to tracking data for DraftKings Showdown contests over 2019 and 2020, only 17 of 95 slates were won with a quarterback Captain.
- Across the same sample, wide receivers and running backs split the outcomes evenly, with 33 tournament-winning events each.
- Of the 38 times that a wide receiver or tight end was in the winning Captain position, only three of those builds did not include at least one quarterback in a Flex position.
- Thirty-five of 95 winning lineups featured at least one defense, but only two of those featured both defenses.
- Twenty-nine winning lineups featured at least one kicker, but only two of those included both.
- Only eight winning lineups included at least one defense and one kicker, while one person won a tournament with two defenses and a kicker in 2019.
With Vegas putting 45 points up for grabs in what should be a closely contested game, NFL DFS lineup plays can be found on all sides. Both teams feature a blend of skill players from various price tiers who could all conceivably contribute to a winning lineup in a number of game scripts. With the total set within 1.5 on either side, we have a sample of 23-games from which to draw thin conclusions. The strongest of these continues to be that quarterbacks are most commonly optimal and best left to the flex spots in DraftKings roster constructions. This is largely due to the price multiplier that does not exist on other sites, so it is strictly an issue where the added weight of salary is quality-prohibitive across the rest of a lineup build. Rostering quarterbacks in flex spots allows lineups to include the strong correlation between passers and receivers, while not burdening a lineup with too much salary. Only two of the 23 winning lineups failed to roster a quarterback, but only four of the 23 won with a quarterback Captain.
Of the skill players rostered in the Captain role in winning lineups, we find pass-catchers there nine times, while running backs took the victory the same number of times. Pass-catcher lineups featured primarily 3-3 constructions, with that build winning in five of the nine contests. In running back Captain victory lineups the 3-3 build took four wins but 5-1 constructions won another three. The running back Captain lineups favored defense over kickers in flex roles, while both were present in a share of pass-catcher Captain lineups. Overall, pass-catcher based lineups trend toward more evenly built constructions, which seems logical given the price logistics still required in rostering a primary receiver and the correlated quarterback, even before multiplying the passer salary.
DraftKings + FanDuel Stack Rules
QB with at least one RB/WR/TE from Opposing Team (this will happen naturally in most Showdown constructions, but including the rule will eliminate lineups that feature only an opposing kicker or quarterback)
QB with at least one WR/TE from Same Team (this will happen naturally in a large portion of lineups, but stacking quarterbacks with pass catchers is the easiest way to rack up NFL DFS points. It makes sense to include this rule to force the build, in most situations)
Limit rules are slightly less important for Showdown slates as there are only two teams to choose from. They are still useful for preventing suboptimal constructions, however. Including the following will help prevent these less likely builds.
Limit QB/RB/WR/TE/DST/K from Same Team to three unless paired with Captain
Limit RB from Same Team to one (this is a rule that can be toggled on and off over multiple crunches, but the preference for this slate would be to use it)
Limit K from Same Game to one
Limit DEF from Same Game to one
We will utilize Fantasy Cruncher’s Groups utility to create specific builds. The Groups feature includes the ability to designate players as the key to the group, or the player whose use in a position will trigger the group requirements. For Showdown slates this can be utilized to force specific sets of players or positions along with each type of designated Captain. The example below shows a group that utilizes George Kittle in the Captain role as the key player. It will then force all constructions featuring Kittle in the Captain role to include at least three of the players listed in the group including both quarterbacks as well as a mix of positively leveraged skill players from both sides.
NFL DFS Optimizer Groups & Picks
Unlike multi-game slates, when attacking individual potential game scripts, these groups are better deployed individually for separate crunches that can then be combined into a single pool of lineups. Running them all at once is likely to create conflicting scenarios that will either prevent or limit a full crunch.
The first wrinkle in utilizing Groups to create specific constructions is that the tool differentiates between a wide receiver or running back and the same player in the Captain or MVP spot. This requires the creation of a group that adds the Captain version of any likely skill player as the key player, with a rule setting that any lineup featuring any of these players must include one of the quarterbacks in a Flex position. The alternate approach to this problem is to remove all but the skill players from potential inclusion at the Captain spot then create a rule that will simply stack the quarterback with the Captain spot, but that approach is likely more flawed. This group does not currently force quarterbacks when defense or a kicker is used at Captain.
Key Players: All primary skill-players as Captain
Setting: At least one
Group: Jimmy Garoppolo & Ryan Tannehill – Captain versions
This group will result in getting one of the quarterbacks whenever any of the listed primary skill-players is utilized at Captain. To force the quarterback from the same team, multiple groups should be created for skill players from each team utilizing just the quarterback from that team. When quarterbacks appear in Flex positions, the rules and limit settings will kick in to force optimal constructions in the other Flex roles.
NFL DFS Lineup Build – Former Stars
Key Player(s): AJ Brown & Julio Jones – Captain versions
Setting: At least 4
Group: Jimmy Garoppolo, Ryan Tannehill, AJ Brown (-35%), Julio Jones (-35%), Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, Geoff Swaim, Jeff Wilson, D’Onta Foreman, Dontrell Hilliard, Robbie Gould, Randy Bullock, 49ers, Titans
This group seeks to utilize the Titans’ two former star receivers in the Captain spot, while limiting the shares of lineups in which the other will appear in a flex role and also forcing positively leveraged skill players and other interesting combinations through a 4-player requirement. The group includes both defenses and kickers for differentiation, several stars, and the quarterbacks on both sides.
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NFL DFS Concept – Differentiating Chalky Value RB Captain
Key Player(s): Jeff Wilson – Captain version
Setting: At least four
Group: Jimmy Garoppolo, Ryan Tannehill, D’Onta Foreman, Dontrell Hilliard, Geoff Swaim, Deeboy Samuel, Robbie Gould, 49ers Defense, George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk, Jauan Jennings
This group seeks to force a few differentiated constructions among what will likely be very common builds that feature discounted running back Jeff Wilson Jr. in the Captain role. This group will push four players from a list that features predominantly teammates, including the premium skill players, his quarterback, the kicker, and the defense. A few of the positive leverage plays from the opposite side are added, and a few additional longshot plays can be worked into the group for larger-field tournament play. This group should also angle in favor of the 49ers, which could have slightly more value as we have seen in very limited sampling.
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