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Optimizer Groups: Optimal MNF NFL Daily DraftKings & FanDuel Picks | Lions vs. Packers

Terry McBride



Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers had some wise advice for Bengals QB Joe Burrow last week after the Packers won the game in OT

The Packers come into Monday Night Football as -11.5 favorites over the Lions in a game carrying a 48.5 total in Vegas. There are still gigantic prize pools in play and plenty of options for NFL DFS point-scoring, as is clear with a glance at the Top Showdown Plays Tool. This article will look at various approaches to utilizing the optimizer to create groups that follow specific game scripts to create unique lineups that will be in play given certain outcomes. Let’s break down these Monday Night Football NFL DFS optimizer picks for Lions vs. Packers showdown lineups on DraftKings and FanDuel.

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NFL DFS Picks & Optimizer Groups: 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 our 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.

After frequently seeing wide receivers as significant contributors in the Captain spot in most of the small samples from the 98-game pool of data, it is jarring to see that the position has been the Captain in a winning lineup only one time in the 11 contests that have a point spread of 10 or more. Fans of alternate constructions will rejoice in the small sample data, tight ends have won just once, quarterbacks twice and running backs three times, while kickers and defense have combined for four wins in contests of this nature. Three of the five times that a team’s defense came up victorious in the full data set were in games with spreads of 10 or more. Interestingly, all three of the defensive wins were in 5-1 constructions on DraftKings.

The 30-game sample that ignores the point spread and instead focuses on game totals between 47 and 50 points shows the return of wide receivers. Receiver Captain plays account for 14 wins in the 30 contests, while kickers, defenses and tight ends won just once each. Quarterbacks account for just three wins, while running backs pick up 10. The overwhelming majority of winning constructions are either 3-3 or 4-2 in favor of the team from which the Captain play is drawn. Twenty-two of 30 contests saw winners that were one of the two constructions.

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Of the 14 constructions that won with wide receiver Captain plays, only one of those did not feature a quarterback in a Flex position. Six of 14 had both quarterbacks from the game, but three of the seven lineups featuring just one quarterback did not select the one who was correlated with the Captain receiver. On a more subjective note, of the 14 winning wide receiver plays, only two were not at least arguably their team’s primary receiver at the time, with the more offbeat plays in the winning lineups being made in Flex positions.

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 T.J. Hockenson in the Captain role as the key player. It will then force all constructions featuring Hockenson in the Captain role to include at least two of the players listed in the group that includes both quarterbacks and some of the options from a potentially lower-scoring tighter game.

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NFL DFS optimizer picks DraftKings FanDuel Monday Night football optimal lineup strategy stacks showdown top plays Week 2 Packers vs Lions

NFL DFS Team Groups

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.

NFL DFS optimizer picks DraftKings FanDuel Monday Night football optimal lineup strategy stacks showdown top plays Week 2 Packers vs Lions

Key Players: All primary skill-players as Captain

Setting: At least one

Group: Aaron Rodgers & Jared Goff (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 — The Upset

NFL DFS optimizer picks DraftKings FanDuel Monday Night football optimal lineup strategy stacks showdown top plays Week 2 Packers vs Lions

Key Player: Jared Goff – Captain version

Setting: At least three

Group: D’Andre Swift, T.J. Hockenson, Jamaal Williams, Kalif Raymond, Trinity Benson, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Quintez Cephus, Austin Seibert, Lions Defense (optional)

The Lions threw the ball a lot in Week 1 and seem likely to do so again tonight. Targets were spread all around the field, with five players receiving six targets or more. Hockenson and D’Andre Swift led the way with 11 looks each, but running back Jamal Williams landed just behind them with nine, and wideout Trinity Benson surprised with eight targets. If the Lions are going to hang in this one, much less pull off an upset, it seems likely that Jared Goff and his receiving corps will need to win the day in the air. The quarterback Captain play will be low owned, though the Top Showdown Plays Tool reveals just a 2.9% chance of Goff landing as the top scorer on the night as well. This construction will force a 4-2 construction around Goff while allowing for a full 5-1 stack as well. Using the boost function to give a nudge to the lower-owned high leverage plays among the receiver pool is recommended for creating a diversity of construction in the Flex positions. Adding the ultra-longshot Lions defense play is optional here.

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Game Script — Ground Game

Key Players: D’Andre Swift, Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams, A.J. Dillon – Captain versions

Setting: At least two

Group: D’Andre Swift, Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams, A.J. Dillon (standard versions), Aaron Rodgers, Jared Goff, Mason Crosby, Austin Seibert, Packers Defense, Lions Defense

Of the 10 times that a running back Captain play won a slate in our 30-contest sample of games totaled between 47 and 50 points, defenses were involved in a Flex spot in half of them and kickers appeared in four, with two winners including both defense and a kicker. While it may seem counter-intuitive, only one of those lineups did not feature a quarterback, while four of the 10 had both signal-callers. Only two of the 10 lineups did not feature at least one additional running back. Al of this leads to a specific avenue of construction that can be controlled with groups. With a 48.5 total and two pass-oriented teams, this is a less than likely stack that could pay off if things go in unexpected directions.

Game Script — The Obvious Captains

Key Players: Davante Adams and Aaron Rodgers – Captain versions

Setting: At least four

Group: Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams (standard versions), Jared Goff, D’Andre Swift, T.J. Hockenson, Trinity Benson, Amon-Ra St. Brown, A.J. Dillon, Mason Crosby, Kalif Raymond, Randall Cobb

This group attempts to capitalize on the significant odds of one of the two Packers stars landing in the winning Captain role. If either of the two is used in the Captain spot, this group will push four players from a pool that includes the standard version of whichever one was not selected, several of the Lions primary players and some of the lower-owned positively leveraged Flex players from our board. This group is likely to create constructions that will leave salary on the table, which is a good thing for Showdown formats but does warrant monitoring for going overboard with the concept.

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If you’re interested in other DFS NFL stats for multiple game slates, head over to NFL DFS ownership projections, Awesemo's NFL Data Central, NFL DFS rankings, and daily fantasy football stacking. Take a look at our inactives list, starting line-ups and depth charts.

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 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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