Week 4 of NFL DFS action comes to a close Monday night with an excellent-looking matchup between the Raiders and Chargers. With last night’s Sunday Night Football game serving as a fresh reminder of how anything can happen and even bad teams can hang with the class of the league from time to time, there are plenty of scenarios in play for what Vegas sees as a tightly contested high-scoring affair. The Chargers are favored, but only by virtue of being the home team, with a -3 spread, and the game is heavily totaled at 51.5 four our Monday Night Football matchup. With the home team ranking fifth in our game-script adjusted passing percentage expectation for this contest, and the Raiders following closely behind in 13th, this should be an airborne affair with plenty of scoring on the board in both the real-life contest, and for NFL DFS optimizer picks for DraftKings and FanDuel lineups.
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 Groups: Week 4 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’s contest has 15 analogs in our two-year database when filtering for games with a total within a point on either side of the 51.5 total for tonight. Of those 15 contests, eight were won with pass-catcher Captains and an additional four were won by quarterback Captain plays. The three contests in the pool that were won by running back Captain plays had final result outliers, two of the games went under by significant margins, one by 11.5 and another by 15. The third game went way over the total, landing 15 points ahead of Vegas’ expectation. The trend toward the passing game in historical results, as well as the expectation for these specific teams in tonight’s contest, suggests a strong lean toward the air for NFL DFS lineup constructions today.
Expanding the pool by another point on either side takes us to a 25-contest sample. Four additional running back wins are added to the pool, but three of them came in the games totaled a further point lower, and this game seems more likely to shootout than fall below expectation. The pass-catcher victories expand to 14, while quarterbacks remain steady with four wins, but every lineup in the sample of 25 includes at least one quarterback, with nine of them using both signal-callers.
Four winning lineups were 5-1 constructions, including two of the quarterback wins and one of the running back wins. A 1-5 build accounts for another running back victory, with another coming in a 2-4 build. That uneven construction adds two more wins, both of which stacked a wide receiver Captain with his quarterback. Four of the wins were 4-2 builds, while a full 13 were even 3-3s.
The notion that 3-3 builds may be ideal for tonight’s game expectation is further reinforced when we ignore the point total and focus instead on games with a spread of 2.5 to 3.5. In that sample, a 3-3 build is the winner in 12 of 20 instances. 4-2 is the next-most common winner, coming up four times, while 5-1 had three wins and a 2-4 took one tournament. In the subset that meets the qualification for both spread and point total, 3-3 was the winning build five out of seven times, with a 4-2 and a 5-1 rounding out the sample. The optimal nature of both even constructions and the passing game for tonight’s contest is reflected in the simulation results in the Top Showdown Plays Tool.
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 Mike Williams in the Captain role as the key player. It will then force all constructions featuring Williams in the Captain role to include at least four 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 who fit the narrative of a pass-happy game. This group leaves one spot open for other premium plays, but salary availability is less likely, depending on the format.
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: Justin Herbert & Derek Carr – 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 — Expect the Unexpected
Key Player: Austin Ekeler, Josh Jacobs, and Kenyan Drake – Captain Versions
Setting: at least 3
As with last night’s game, in a certain number of outcomes, this game trends toward the ground doing most of the scoring for both the real game and NFL DFS purposes. Receivers drop passes, quarterbacks overthrow open targets, but the ground game grinds away. The group utilizes any of the three primary backs in the Captain role and threads through a three-man requirement from a group that includes a tertiary receiver option from each team, additional ground elements, both quarterbacks and kickers.
Concept – Premium Receiver Captain with an Even Construction
Key Players: All premium pass-catchers – Captain versions
Setting: At least four
This group is similar to one that we made last night, it attempts to force a majority of 3-3 or 4-2 constructions when the premium wide receivers land in Captain spots, with the goal of capturing the potential trend-line that we can observe in historical sampling. The resulting lineups will still include some five-man stacks, but they will lean toward the more level constructions. This group includes all of the most likely pass catchers in the Captain role while utilizing three players from a group that includes other premium skill players, both quarterbacks, kickers, and a handful of lesser-owned skill players from each side. This group should come together while leaving enough room for another star Flex play and a value play, or two clicks from the mid-range that leave salary on the table to help differentiate constructions. Lineups that stand out for a significant lack of spend may lean too heavily into the lower end of this group and should be culled from most pools. A rule to limit tight ends from the same team to one might be a smart addition when crunching lineups with this group.
Concept – Primary Leverage Targets
Key Players: Justin Herbert, Keenan Allen, Darren Waller – Captain Versions
Setting: At least three
Group: Keenan Allen, Darren Waller, Jared Cook, Daniel Carlson, Tristan Vizcaino, Raiders Defense, Jalen Guyton
This group is hunting for leverage plays and forcing several of them into our lineup build when the top three Captain plays by leverage in the Captain role are utilized. The balance of the group is made up of a selection of positively leveraged Flex plays from our Top Showdown Plays Tool. This group will force three of them, with a high occurrence of either Allen, Waller, or both. Adding a few other low-owned plays, regardless of leverage, is another direction that will work well with this group.
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