The Monday Night Football NFL DFS slate pits the hapless 3-6 New York Giants against the suddenly stumbling Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After dropping two in a row on the road, Tampa Bay returns home to a game where they are 10.5-point favorites. The game is carrying a reasonably high total at 49.5, with a clear slant toward the Buccaneers’ side of point-scoring. For NFL DFS purposes on DraftKings Showdown and FanDuel single-game slates, there are relevant skill players on both sides of the game, but one of these teams is clearly far better than their opponent. This is immediately apparent in the site’s tools, which show the top three most owned Captain plays on DraftKings as coming from the Buccaneers side. Getting to the right combination of Giants could end up as a difference-making contrarian play in the right spot, but forcing bad options is not a winning strategy. Focusing on quality lineup constructions with plays that make sense with one another while leaning into the Tampa Bay upside and grabbing positively leveraged plays from the New York side is the most likely approach to cashing a tournament while getting more contrarian with the multiplier spots can be the path to taking the very top spot in large-field Showdown GPPs.
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 Thursday Night Football DraftKings and FanDuel Showdown lineups.
NFL DFS Optimizer Picks: Week 11 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 49.5-point game total, and the home team is a 10.5-point favorite. With a massive point spread on the table, it makes sense to look first at a sample of games that are projected as blowouts prior to starting. Looking across our historical sample, there are 10 games that have point spreads of 10 points or more, and they yield a very interesting, albeit small, sample. Three of the Captain wins by a team defense come in games with inflated point spreads, with a kicker Captain play taking another top spot. The balance of the 10 winners was an even spread with two going to each of pass catchers, running backs, and quarterbacks. The board includes four winners that were 5-1 constructions, and another three that were 4-2 leaning toward the favored teams. The clear trend seems to be that leaning into the teams that Vegas sees as strong favorites in this situation is a sound approach.
There are 17 games in the sample that are totaled within a point on either side of tonight’s 49.5. Within that sample, nine Captain plays are pass catchers taking down tournament wins. Of those nine, seven were built as 3-3 constructions, which runs counter to the sample of games that focus on heavy favorites, creating an interesting lineup building conundrum. Six of the remaining lineups were won by running back Captains, with quarterbacks only taking one win, but appearing in a Flex role in all but one of the winners.
Eight of the winning lineups featured a kicker, one of the samples in which the position was more highly relevant. The contests in that sample of lineups include four that were at between a point spread of six and seven, which while not a direct analog to tonight is at least reflective of the position’s relevance in potential blowout spots. With a bad football team coming in as the underdog visitor and a big point spread, defense is certainly on the board as a Flex play. The sample of similarly totaled games shows it as a viable play, with seven appearances among the 17 winning lineups in the sample.
With the setup in Vegas, potential winning lineup constructions for tonight can come from any number of angles. The volatile slate should be able to produce a fair number of unique approaches to roster builds, leaning into the Tampa Bay side and including New York players for differentiation purposes is a popular but logical approach, finding differentiated ways to arrive at that goal is the key to accessing the top of tournament standings.
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 Leonard Fournette in the Captain role as the key player. It will then force all constructions featuring Fournette in the Captain role to include at least four of the players listed in the group including both quarterbacks as well as a mix of positively leveraged correlation plays 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: Daniel Jones & Tom Brady – 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 Concept — Bucs Blowout
Key Player(s): Tom Brady, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Rob Gronkowski, Leonard Fournette – Captain versions
Setting: At least 4
Group: Tom Brady, Daniel Jones, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Rob Gronkowski, Leonard Fournette, Tyler Johnson, Ronald Jones, Giovani Bernard, Ryan Succop, Tampa Bay Defense
This group seeks to capitalize on the seemingly inevitable blowout by the seafaring crew from Florida. The Buccaneers are heavily favored, and they have seemingly endless weapons at their disposal. This group builds from any of the primary players from their offense and adds four players from a group that includes all of their major weapons, their kicker and defense, and the opposing quarterback. This will create a great number of 5-1 slanted lineups, with a few 4-2s sneaking into the mix depending on the overall configuration.
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Game Script – Evenly built pass-focused
Key Player(s): Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, Kadarius Toney, Kenny Golladay, Rob Gronkowski, Darius Slayton, Evan Engram, Tyler Johnson – Captain versions
Setting: At least 3
Group: Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, Kadarius Toney, Kenny Golladay, Rob Gronkowski, Darius Slayton, Evan Engram, Tyler Johnson – Standard versions, Tom Brady, Daniel Jones, Ryan Succop, Graham Gano
This group focuses on the more than 60% projected passing volume for both of these teams in Awesemo’s Game Script Adjusted Pace and Play Percentage numbers. The group will be triggered by the use of any of the primary pass catchers in the Captain spot, and it will draw from a pool that includes the standard version of those same receivers, both quarterbacks, and both kickers. The group uses a setting of at least 3, but it can be used with at least 4 to create even more passing-centric lineups. Using at least 3 will allow for some running back plays to occupy the remaining spaces while still forcing many lineups to a 3-3 or 4-2 construction.
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