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Optimizer Groups: Optimal SNF NFL Daily DraftKings & FanDuel Picks | Seahawks vs Steelers

Terry McBride

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NFL DFS Picks: Week 15 Monday Night Football DraftKings + FanDuel steelers bengals

Sunday Night Football brings a contest between the Seahawks and Steelers that Las Vegas clearly does not think much of; a game that, frankly, makes us happy that there are big season premiers of prestige dramas available tonight instead. The game is carrying a lowly 43 point total with the hometown Steelers favored by five. Were it not for the injuries to Russell Wilson and Chris Carson, this would likely be an entirely different game. Still, there are significant prize pools for NFL DFS Showdown contests on DraftKings and FanDuel, and there are endless possibilities for how this game could unfold.

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 6 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.

With just a 43.5 total and a five-point spread on the board in Vegas, there are several analogs to this game in our historical sampling. Working from the game total and looking within a point in either direction we can find 19 comparable contests. The results follow a pattern that one might reasonably expect from a low-scoring game, with scattered results that do not align with some of the more high-flying contests we have seen featured recently. In this sample, team defense has won the day as a Captain play three of the 19 times. Interestingly, each of those was a 5-1 stack with the defense and four teammates piled against just one opposing skill player, in all three cases that lone player was a wide receiver.

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Three of the remaining wins were with quarterback Captain plays, with another two of those landing as 5-1 constructions. As we have seen frequently, quarterbacks have won more historically in the flex position, where they continue to play a key role. Only three of the 19 lineups in this sample did not include at least one quarterback, while four of them included both signal-callers – notably, none of those four was one of the quarterback Captain wins. No kicker Captain play has won in our historical sample in games within a point of tonight’s spread, and the position comes up in a flex role in winning lineups only four out of 19 times. Defenses were a successful flex play in five lineups in addition to the wins where it was the Captain, with one of those five including both team defenses.

Pass-catchers won the day six times in the 19 entry sample, with only one of those coming as a tight end play. The remaining seven victories went to running back Captain plays. One of the seven running back wins was a 5-1 configuration and another was a 2-4, with the remaining five coming as 3-3 builds. Pass catchers see more favor to a 4-2 construction in the small sample of victorious entries.

Adding another point on either side of the spread stretches the credulity of the sample, but it does bring us to a slightly more relevant 32 instances. 22 of those 32 builds were either 3-3 (13) or 4-2 (9) constructions. In the broader sample we see an additional two lineups win without a quarterback, but still 27 of 32 including at least one. A kicker Captain play finally rolls along in this sample, that lineup included both quarterbacks in flex roles. Running backs were the victorious Captain play 12 times in the 32 data points, the most frequent winning position in the role.

Working within the broader 32-game sample but winnowing to a pool within one point of the five-point spread, we reveal a collection of 13 contests. These outcomes are frustratingly split evenly, with quarterback, running back, and pass-catcher Captain plays each seeing four victories, and the lone kicker victory taking the final spot. 10 of the 13 winning lineups were either 3-3 or 4-2 builds, suggesting a balanced focus that captures a broad range of potential outcomes might be a strong approach to lineup building tonight.

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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 Najee Harris in the Captain role as the key player. It will then force all constructions featuring Harris in the Captain role to include at least three 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 and a team defense that fit the low-scoring narrative. This group leaves two spots 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.

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: Ben Roethlisberger & Geno Smith – 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 — Ground & Pound

Key Players: Najee Harris, Alex Collins, DeeJay Dallas, Travis Homer – Captain versions

Setting: at least 3

Group: Najee Harris, Alex Collins, DeeJay Dallas, Travis Homer, Steelers Defense, Seahawks Defense, Ben Roethlisberger, Geno Smith, Gerald Everett, Pat Freiermuth, Eric Ebron, Will Dissly

This group attempts to capture a large cross-section of players relevant to lower-scoring game scripts. The group features the primary running backs in the Captain role as the triggering player, with a rule to force three players from a group that includes the quarterbacks for trend-chasing, as well as the standard version of each running back, the tight end corps from both squads and both team defenses. The wide receivers are notably absent but will fill in around the edges in the remaining two spots. This group should force unique-looking lineups that do not spend the full available salary and should be good for differentiation.

Game Script — Throwback Ben

Key Players: Ben Roethlisberger – Captain version

Setting: At least three

Group: Najee Harris, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, James Washington, Pat Freiermuth, Eric Ebron, Steelers Defense, Chris Boswell

This somewhat straightforward group focuses on building lineups that are slanted toward Pittsburgh in the event that underperforming Ben Roethlisberger lands in the Captain role. Grouping all of the primary Steelers players together and forcing at least three of them will create a crunch that is entirely 4-2 or 5-1 constructions when the Steelers quarterback is in the Captain spot, with several of the included skill players having the added bonus of positive leverage in the flex role.

Concept – The Unexpected

Key Players: DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Alex Collins – Captain versions

Setting: at least 3

Group: Ben Roethlisberger, Geno Smith, Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson, Freddie Swain, Alex Collins, Chris Boswell, Steelers Defense, Seahawks Defense, Pat Freiermuth

This group plays the expensive skill players from Seattle as a rotation of Captain key players. The use of any of the trio in the Captain role will kick off the requirement to use at least three players from a group that includes both quarterbacks as well as a selection of players who are positively leveraged in the Flex role according to our Top Showdown Plays tool. It will also leave two spots open for more premium skill players, while potentially leaving salary on the table for lineup differentiation.


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View our DraftKings NFL DFS rankings and our FanDuel DFS NFL ownership rankings. Take a look at our inactive players, NFL starting lineups and NFL depth charts. We also have single-game projections and single-game ownership projections. 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 daily fantasy football rankings, and NFL stacks.

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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