The Sunday nightcap has a potential Game of the Year feel, with the Bills heading into Kansas City to square off against the Chiefs. With the hometown Chiefs sitting in the basement of their division at 2-2, one of the league’s best offenses will be playing desperate all-out football against one of the highest-paced teams in the league. Buffalo loves to fling the ball around the field and moving at a rapid-fire pace, this game has major shootout potential, and it could be an NFL DFS point-scoring gold rush. The game has a massive 56.5 total on the board in Vegas, and gamers can expect a tight contest, with the Chiefs favored by only 2.5, less than the traditional home-field advantage bump.
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 & Picks: Week 5 Sunday 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.
Finding direct analogs to this game in our two-plus year sample of Showdown contest data is difficult. We have just four games that were totaled at 56.5 or 57 in the sample, and only one of those was at a spread of three or closer. In that meaningless one-game sample, a 2-4 construction with a wide receiver Captain and an uncorrelated quarterback in the Flex position won the day. In an effort to find a more meaningful sample, we must overextend the pool, stretching to a range between 52.5 and 57, which still only reveals a 14-game sample that is still difficult to declare as meaningful.
Within that flawed set of data, we find five winning running back Captain plays and six winners that featured pass catchers. Quarterback Captains managed to win the day just three times, though only one of the 14 winning lineups was built with no quarterback whatsoever, while four of them featured both signal-callers. The winning construction in half of the lineups was a level 3-3 build, with 4-2 seeing three victories, all of which featured running back Captains. Interestingly, the 4-2, 2-4, and 5-1 lineups account for all five of the running back Captain wins and one of the quarterback Captain wins, but only one of the wide receiver victories. The 3-3 lineups featured five wins by pass catchers (four wide receivers) and two by quarterbacks. This loosely could lead to a conclusion that 3-3 builds in highly totaled games slightly favor the passing attack, while the uneven constructions favor games that end up with a ground focus. In every instance, on both sides of the example, the actual game total result was as one would anticipate, in the 3-3 receiver and quarterback victories the games reliably went over the Vegas total, in the uneven constructions it either hit the line or fell below.
Ignoring the game total, and instead focusing only on the point spread, we can find a sample of 31 games that were between a 1.5 and 3.5 spread in Vegas. The list includes 13 Captain victories by pass catchers, eight by quarterback Captains, and nine with a running back in the role. Defense won the day in the final contest in the sample, but that seems like an extremely unlikely proposition in this contest. That game, which has been mentioned in this space previously, was an outlier that opened at a 48.5 total with Kansas City as -3.5 favorites, but it saw Patrick Mahomes exit early with an injury, and the game finished 30-6, well under and well outside of the spread.
Dropping that contest from the sample, we see a pool of 30 games with 11 winners coming as 3-3 constructions and another nine as 4-2 builds. Those accounted for five quarterback Captain victories and 10 wins by pass catchers, but just five of the running back wins. The alternate constructions were a spread of four running back Captain wins with three each for wideouts and quarterbacks.
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 Cole Beasley in the Captain role as the key player. It will then force all constructions featuring Beasley in the Captain role to
get vaccinated 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: Patrick Mahomes & Josh Allen – 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 — Pass-focused but Running Back Captain
Key Player: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Devin Singletary, Zack Moss, Darrel Williams – Captain Versions (note, these may require juiced randomness to appear in any meaningful way without locking each for a subset of crunches, which is also a viable approach.
Setting: at least 4
Group: Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Emmanuel Sanders, Cole Beasley, Zack Moss, Dawson Knox, Mecole Hardman, Demarcus Robinson, Gabriel Davis, Byron Pringle, Isaiah McKenzie
This group is similar to one that was used on Thursday in that it attempts to capture the passing volume of an airborne game that manages to let the running backs do most of the touchdown scoring. This group deliberately attempts to force an uneven construction by pushing four players from the group while leaving a large hole for a star to fill and imbalance things in a number of constructions. This pursues the notion that uneven builds bolster a running back Captain play slightly more in this format than an even 3-3 build would, although many of that construction will also appear.
Concept — Leverage with Quarterback Captain
Key Players: Patrick Mahomes & Josh Allen – Captain versions
Setting: At least three
Group: Cole Beasley, Stefon Diggs, Gabriel Davis, Byron Pringle, Mecole Hardman, Harrison Butker, Tyler Bass
This group attempts to force at least three of the players with positive leverage at the Flex position into any lineup that includes either quarterback in the Captain spot. The group includes several of the primary weapons while also leaving room for the opposing quarterback and other star players to potentially fill in around the edges. This group is meant to help create potentially unique constructions within a popular approach to the Captain position.
Concept — Separation of Skill Players
Key Players: Travis Kelce & Tyreek Hill – Captain versions
Setting: Use the checkbox to instruct FC to ignore usage requirements and only apply the included negative bump to projection.
Group: Tyreek Hill & Travis Kelce – Standard versions
This group chases a notion that if one of the star players from a team is going to explode for Captain success, it may reduce the overall opportunity for his high-priced counterpart, making value and leverage plays somewhat more valuable in the Flex positions. This group does not exclude the possibility of a Kelce or Hill Captain with the other in a Flex role, it simply reduces the instances of that construction by applying a 35% downgrade to the projection for each elite pass catcher when the other lands in a Captain spot. The same type of group could conceivably be used to further separate the three primary wide receivers in the Buffalo passing attack.
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