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Optimizer Groups: Optimal MNF NFL Daily DraftKings & FanDuel Picks | Colts vs. Ravens

Terry McBride

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NFL DFS Optimizer Picks DraftKings FanDuel Week 1 Monday Night Football Ravens vs Raiders showdown lineups optimal rankings groups projections

Monday Night Football brings an ugly-looking contest between the Colts and the hometown Ravens. The spread is a fairly broad 7.5 and the game has a middling 46.5 total that does not blow away the projections on either side of the ball. With a star quarterback who at times can get it done on his own, but frequently needs help from less than reliable teammates, as well as a team with a solid foundation but perhaps lacking an extreme standout skill play, it is anyone’s ball game in terms of NFL DFS roster construction for DraftKings Showdown and FanDuel single-game contests. Using the Top Showdown Plays Tool is the approach to finding positive leverage strong plays against the field on both sites.

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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 Monday Night Football DraftKings and FanDuel Showdown lineups.

NFL DFS Optimizer Picks: Week 5 Monday 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.

Tonight’s game has a total of 46.5 and a 7.5-point spread, with the hometown Ravens coming in as the favorites. The point total sees 27 comparison points within a point and a half in either direction. The board is an interesting blend of lineup constructions, with pass catchers again leading the way in the Captain spot, hauling in 13 wins with wide receivers accounting for 11 of them. The remaining pool of winning lineups included eight running back wins, four quarterback wins, and a pair of kicker victories. Interestingly, the sample includes almost as many winning 5-1 constructions, with seven, as it does 3-3 builds, which won the day nine times, and 4-2 constructions which managed eight wins. Focusing on the point spread within the previous sample, we see only six games, three of which were won by pass catchers, with the other victories going one each to a quarterback, a running back, and a kicker.

As we have seen in other samples, only three of the 27 winning lineups did not include a quarterback in any role, making them a critical Flex consideration in all cases for Showdown lineup building. 13 of the winning lineups included both quarterbacks, which seems to track to what a reasonable expectation for this structure of a game would create. Defenses were a viable Flex play in this format as well, they were in nine of the 27 winning lineups, while an additional lineup included both team’s defenses. Kickers continue to be the less relevant position, but they did make it into eight of 27 lineups that won their contests, which is a relevant enough result. Ignoring the game total, only five games came in with spreads of either 7.0 or 7.5, four of those were won by wide receiver Captain plays, though it is a small sample.

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

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

Construction Basics

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 Jonathan Taylor in the Captain role as the key player. It will then force all constructions featuring Taylor in the Captain role to include at least three of the players listed in the group that includes both quarterbacks, skill players who correlate with the opposing quarterback, and a handful of lower-cost skill players as well as the defenses who fit the narrative of a lower scoring game. This group leaves two spots open for other premium plays, but salary availability is less likely, depending on the format.

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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.

Quarterback Inclusion

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: Lamar Jackson & Carson Wentz – Standard 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.

Game Script — Lamar Jackson

Key Player: Lamar Jackson – Captain version

Setting: at least 4

Group: Mark Andrews, Marquise Brown, Sammy Watkins, Nyheim Hines, Devin Duvernay, Carson Wentz, Jonathan Taylor, Jack Doyle, Mo-Alie-Cox, Ravens defense

This group attempts to capture the upside of Lamar Jackson and everything he can do to impact a football game. The superstar quarterback landing as the Captain will trigger this group that includes all of his primary weapons in the air, as well as the opposing quarterback with his correlated secondary and safety plays, as well as the Ravens defense. The four-player requirement will make it more likely than not that this lineup will result in some uneven configurations, which may be a more viable approach, as our limited historical sample’s trendlines suggest.

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Concept — The upset

Key Players: Carson Wentz & Michael Pittman – Captain Versions

Setting: At least three

Group: Carson Wentz, Michael Pittman (Standard versions), Lamar Jackson, Zach Pascal, Jonathan Taylor, Sammy Watkins, Justin Tucker, Ravens defense, Colts defense, Jack Doyle, Mo Alie-Cox

This group chases the narrative of a Colts upset, which would likely take the form of a win by their passing game and a lackluster performance by the stars of the Ravens. The group includes most of the Colts’ skill players in a setup that would be triggered by the use of either Michael Pittman or Carson Wentz in the Captain spot. This group looks for a strong correlation with the Colts offense and the low-scoring nature of the narrative while throwing in a few of the premium plays from the Ravens and leaving room for some misfit combinations of remaining players that will hopefully result in lineups that have a chance of being both unique and competitive.

Game Script – Ground & Pound

Key Players: Jonathan Taylor, Nyheim Hines, Latavius Murray, Ty’Son Williams – Captain versions

Setting: at least 4

Group: Lamar Jackson, Carson Wentz, Mark Andrews, Jonathan Taylor, Justin Tucker, Ravens defense, Colts defense, Jack Doyle, Mo Alie-Cox, Ty’Son Williams, Nyheim Hines, Latavius Murray – Standard versions

This group focuses on a lower-scoring ground game that sees the wide receivers rendered less relevant in Flex positions. The idea of capturing the results of an ugly contest should not be ignored with these two teams on the field, this group will result in lineups that feature one of the primary running backs in the Captain role, followed by four members of a group that includes both quarterbacks and the primary tight ends, but not the correlated wide receivers. Additional pieces of a ground-focused game suck as the tight ends and defenses are included. Kickers can be included in this group as well more often than not. Leaving one space open will allow for a variety of receivers to be included over the course of building many lineups, but they will likely fit in at odd salary positions, helping to offset some of the potential public popularity.

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If you’re interested in other DFS NFL picks for multiple game slates, head over to NFL ownership projections, Awesemo's NFL Data Central, NFL daily fantasy football rankings, and NFL stacks. Take a look at our NFL depth chart list, starting lineups 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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