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Optimizer Groups: Optimal MNF NFL Daily DraftKings & FanDuel Picks | Patriots vs Bills

Terry McBride

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The Monday Night Football slate brings an interesting matchup for AFC East superiority with the upstart Patriots visiting Buffalo to take on the division-leading Bills. The game is carrying one of the lower point totals we have seen on the board for a primetime NFL DFS Showdown slate this season, with Vegas setting the mark at just 41 points. The hometown Bills are not even getting the full home-field advantage line, coming in as just -2.5 favorites. With what seems like a highly competitive game between two teams that feature a number of playable options on both sides, this should be a prime matchup for NFL DFS lineup building for tournaments in DraftKings Showdown and FanDuel single game formats.

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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 DraftKings and FanDuel Showdown lineups tonight.

NFL DFS Optimizer Picks: Week 13 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 extremely low 41-point total on the Vegas board leaves a bare-bones sample of just nine games in our two-plus year database when we count for a point and a half in either direction. Of those nine, five winning lineups had a running back at Captain, while three used a quarterback and only one had a pass-catcher, with a wide receiver winning in a game that ended up with just 30 total points scored against a 41-point total. The constructions featured are all either 3-3 or 4-2 builds. Only one of the lineups failed to roster a quarterback, while all three quarterback wins included the opposing passer in a flex position. Seven of the lineups included a defense, but no lineup included two. Three lineups included kickers and two of those included both kickers. The outlier point total seems to yield outlier results compared to many of the other samples we have taken this year, but the sample is extremely small.

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We add nine games if we extend the base to a three-point margin in either direction, including a 37-point low point in the database and several games totaled above 41.5. In this larger sample, we find all four of the instances of a defense Captain play seeing victory, while running backs gain only two more winners, totaling to seven of the 18 entries. Quarterbacks remain at four wins while pass-catchers add another two wide receiver Captain victories. Three of the winning lineups did not include a quarterback, one of those was a defense Captain victory.

Among the four lineups that had a defense in the winning Captain position, not one included a kicker. Three of the four lineups included exactly one quarterback, with the fourth lineup falling to include the position. Interestingly, three of the winning lineups, including the one that did not roster a passer, were 5-1 builds in favor of the team from which the defense Captain was drawn. Each of those lineups rostered the passing game in flex positions more than might be expected for a low total. It is statistically meaningless, but at least worth mentioning that two of the four instances of a defense Captain winning play were the Patriots’ defense.

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)

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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 Stefon Diggs in the Captain role as the key player. It will then force all constructions featuring Diggs 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.

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: Josh Allen & Mac Jones – 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.

Game Script – Unexpected Passing Leverage

Key Player(s): Jakobi Meyers, Nelson Agholor, Emmanuel Sanders, Hunter Henry – Captain versions

Setting: At least 4

Group: Jakobi Meyers, Nelson Agholor, Emmanuel Sanders, Hunter Henry, Josh Allen, Mac Jones, Stefon Diggs, Bills Defense, Patriots Defense, Rhamondre Stevenson, Devin Singeltary

This group looks to take the less expected path in this game by rostering several primary pass-catchers as the key plays that will trigger a group of four from the same list of receivers, both quarterbacks, both defenses, and the two positively leveraged running backs available tonight. This group can see success with limited scoring, provided that touchdowns go to the Captained pass-catcher, all of whom come at low probability but positive leverage in the multiplier role.


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NFL DFS Concept – Defense First

Key Player(s): Bills & Patriots Defenses – Captain versions

Setting: At least four

Group: Josh Allen, Mac Jones, Jakobi Meyers, Nelson Agholor, Emmanuel Sanders, Cole Beasley, Stefon Diggs, Kendrick Bourne, Rhamondre Stevenson, Devin Singletary, Dawson Knox, Hunter Henry, Nick Folk, Tyler Bass

This group attempts to take advantage of the low total and the non-zero potential of either defense in the Captain role. The group forces four players from a group that slants more toward the passing game, as we have seen in the very limited historical pool the upside of passers and receivers is still strong in this format. The leverage created through the unique lineup construction and the positive leverage on many passing-game players in the flex role is advantageous with this construction. The group also includes both kickers and positively leveraged running backs for lineup differentiation.


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If you’re interested in other NFL DFS tools for multiple game slates, head over to NFL DFS projected ownership, Awesemo's NFL Data Central, NFL daily fantasy football rankings, and daily fantasy football stacking. Take a look at our NFL starting line-ups, NFL depth chart list and inactives. We also have NFL DFS showdown projections and NFL single-game ownership projections. View our FanDuel NFL rankings and our DraftKings NFL DFS rankings.

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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