Monday Night Football brings a get-right opportunity for the Chiefs against the lowly Giants. The hometown Kansas City team is favored by 10.5 on the Vegas board and the game is carrying a 52-point total, so fireworks are expected but they will be likely to fall where most of the public NFL DFS exposure lies as well. Getting to a varied set of lineup constructions on a game with several seemingly obvious go-to spots is a challenge that can deliver significant rewards when properly solved. Rostering a combination of highly optimal and positively leveraged plays in various combinations is a strong approach, as is following the notion of what specific game situations will mean for the viability of certain players as compared to others.
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 8 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.
Monday night’s game has a high total and one team favored by a wide margin. Looking at historical sampling from two-plus years of games within 1.5 points on either side of the 52-point game total we find 18 contests for small-sample analysis. As we have observed in essentially every other sample – while acknowledging the crossover between many of them – every one of the 18 winning lineups included at least one quarterback, with four Captain winners and six lineups that included both signal-callers. None of the six lineups that featured both quarterbacks placed one in the Captain role, the strongest trend we have seen is that quarterbacks are extremely valuable in DraftKings Showdown Flex roles.
10 of the 18 winnings lineups were built with pass-catchers as Captains, as one would likely expect both from reading this article three times a week through the first part of the season and by following simple logic from the hefty game total and broad spread. No defense or kicker Captain play won in the 18-lineup sample, meaning running backs take the remaining four spots on the board. In fact, only two of the 18 winning lineups featured any defense in either role, both as Flex plays, once with a quarterback Captain and once with a wide receiver. Kickers are somewhat more viable; they were included as Flex plays in six of the 18 winning lineups.
Of the 10 winners that featured a pass-catcher in the Captain role, half included both quarterbacks with all five of the remaining lineups including at least one. In the latter five, only one of the winning lineups featured a pass-catcher and the opposing non-correlated quarterback play. Across the full sample, we once again see that 3-3 builds come up slightly more frequently successful than their counterparts. The construction was victorious in 10 of the 18 winning lineups, while quarterback Captain victories once again seem to favor the onslaught approach.
Taking a different and likely flawed look at the sample for a moment, we have eight appearances from 2019 and 2020 by the Chiefs in tracked primetime games. Those games have an average Vegas total of 52.75, making the sample at least somewhat analogous to tonight’s contest. Kansas City was favored in every game, coming in with an average 7.06-point advantage. Interestingly, the pattern that we see for pass-catchers in the winning Captain role does not hold in this instance. Four of the eight wins went to running back Captain plays, while only two went to pass-catchers, with Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce hauling in a victory apiece. Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire took the top spot twice, with the opposing running back victorious in the other two lineups. Patrick Mahomes won just once as a Captain play but he was rostered in six of the eight winners overall. Interestingly, the lineup that won with Hill as a Captain play featured neither quarterback from that game, while the other lineup that left Mahomes on the table was the result of luck with the Chiefs defense winning the day after the quarterback was injured during the game. Also of note, five of the eight games in the ludicrously small sample went under the Vegas total, which explains some of this results-oriented tour.
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 Travis Kelce in the Captain role as the key player. It will then force all constructions featuring Kelce in the Captain role to include at least three of the players listed in the group that includes both quarterbacks, leverage receiving options from both teams, the opposing star running back, and both kickers.
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: Patrick Mahomes & Daniel Jones — 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 — Giants Playing From Behind & Throwing
Key Player(s): Giants primary receivers – Captain Versions
Setting: At least four
Group: Patrick Mahomes, Daniel Jones, Kadarius Toney, Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram, Darius Slayton, Mecole Hardman, Demarcus Robinson, Jerick McKinnon, Harrison Butker, Graham Gano
This group looks to capture the upside of the Giants’ passing game while creating 3-3 or 4-2 lineups that include one or both quarterbacks along with additional members of the Giants’ passing attack. Positively leveraged receivers from the Chiefs are included to correlate with Mahomes, as are the kickers from both teams, while the running backs and the Kansas City star power are left for just one spot with the final spend and roster space.
Lineup Concept — Split the Baby
Key Player(s): Tyreek Hill & Travis Kelce – Captain Versions
Setting: Only Apply Adjustments (must check box as seen above)
Group: Tyreek Hill (-35%) & Travis Kelce (-35%) – Standard Versions
This group has popped up when Kansas City is in DraftKings Showdown contests in the past. While it is not unheard of for both Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill to have big games in the same game, there are only so many touchdowns, targets, and yards to go around, and striving to slightly separate the stars is sound. Applying a -35% reduction to projections for the corresponding player when the other lands in the Captain role will allow them to occasionally appear in lineups together while creating far more opportunity for quality constructions to include under-owned plays. Adding other players, such as several of the more frequently optimal players who are also carrying positive Flex leverage, and applying positive boosts to see more of them in lineups is a fine move to make with this group as well, though it is important to note that this will only add the boost, it will not force them into lineups together by rule. This group can be used in tandem with any of the other groups on the board.
Game Script – Under/Ground
Key Player(s): Darrel Williams, Devontae Booker, Jerick McKinnon – Captain Versions
Setting: At least four
Group: Darrel Williams, Devontae Booker, Jerick McKinnon – Standard Versions, Evan Engram, Mecole Hardman, Demarcus Robinson, Kadarius Toney, Byron Pringle, Harrison Butker, Graham Gano, Daniel Jones, Patrick Mahomes
Taking inspiration from the minor trend in recent Kansas City primetime games trending toward running backs, this group looks to add four players from a mix of both quarterbacks, the remaining standard running back corps, both kickers, and a selection of pass-catchers with positive leverage. This group is something of a mismatch for how the game sits on the board in Vegas, but if things trend toward either the under or a blowout by Kansas City, we could see more focus on the ground game on their side of the ball in the second half, adding to the potential upside of the ground game getting in the endzone.
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