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Optimizer Groups: Optimal SNF NFL Daily DraftKings & FanDuel Picks | Titans vs Rams

Terry McBride

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NFL DFS DraftKings Showdown Optimal Lineups FanDuel Single Game Optimizer Groups

Sunday Night Football brings a game that would have been more fun prior to Tennessee losing Derrick Henry to injury, but still has significant appeal for NFL DFS action. With the Titans in Los Angeles to take on the Rams, we should expect plenty of high-flying action. With Adrian Peterson in tow as a replacement for Henry, and as a value play in Showdown formats for our purposes, there are interesting paths to lineup constructions for tonight’s Sunday Night Football slate in both DraftKings Showdown and FanDuel single-game formats.

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 9 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.

Sunday night’s game is carrying a 52.5 total with the hometown Rams as 7.5-point favorites. The total indicates we should see some NFL DFS point-scoring upside from all sides. Our historical sampling finds a 19-game pool within two points on either side of the total. Once again, we see that every lineup in the sample included at least one quarterback, but only four of the winners used the signal-caller in the Captain role. Both quarterbacks were included in seven of the 19 winning lineups, though none of those were with a quarterback at Captain, which is partly attributable to the increased price point at which passers typically land and the impact of the salary multiplier.

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Only four of the winning lineups used running backs at Captain in the 19-game sample, by far the majority of winning Captain plays were pass-catchers, with 11 wins in the sample. Within that 11 lineup sample, we see primarily evenly built constructions once again. Seven of the 11 winners were 3-3 constructions, while two more were 4-2 builds. Getting to a receiver captain with an even build is typically one of the strongest approaches to lineup building on DraftKings Showdown slates. Only one of the 11 winners with a pass-catcher Captain play included a defense, while five included kickers. Six of the winners included both quarterbacks, following the logical strong correlation between the positions.

Of the four winners that included running back Captain plays, none included a defense and only one utilized a kicker in the Flex spots. One lineup included both quarterbacks, while they all featured a mix of skill players in the Flex roles. 3-3 constructions won two of the four contests, with a 2-4 and a 4-2 taking the other two spots. No defense or kicker Captain play won with a game total of this size. The positions should be sparingly used in the Flex roles only.

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 Cooper Kupp in the Captain role as the key player. It will then force all constructions featuring Kupp in the Captain role to include at least three of the players listed in the group that includes both quarterbacks, leverage receiving options from both teams, a running back, and both kickers.

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: Matthew Stafford & Ryan Tannehill — 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 Happy

Key Player(s): Cooper Kupp, A.J. Brown, Robert Woods, Julio Jones, Van Jefferson Jr. – Captain versions

Setting: At least four

Group: Matthew Stafford, Ryan Tannehill, Cooper Kupp, A.J. Brown, Robert Woods, Julio Jones, Van Jefferson Jr., Tyler Higbee, Adrian Peterson, Marcus Johnson, Anthony Firkser, Matt Gay, Randy Bullock

This group expands on the Example group above and includes all of the top wide receivers in their Captain form as the key players. The group will then add four players from a mix that includes both quarterbacks, the standard versions of the same receivers, both kickers, and the strongest leverage plays available from either side. The goal with this group is to force receiver-focused builds that come up primarily as 3-3 or 4-2 constructions.

Lineup Concept — Division of Labor

Key Player(s): A.J. Brown & Julio Jones – Captain versions

Setting: Only apply adjustments (must click checkbox as seen above)

Group: A.J. Brown (-50%) & Julio Jones (-25%)

Key Player(s): Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Van Jefferson Jr., Tyler Higbee – Captain versions

Setting: Only apply adjustments (must click checkbox as seen above)

Group: Cooper Kupp (-75%), Robert Woods (-35%), Van Jefferson Jr. (-25%), Tyler Higbee (-25%)

These two groups can be used to apply simple adjustments to impact the degree to which pass-catchers from the same team land in lineups together. The groups are created separately and utilize the checkbox to only apply the projection adjustments, while not forcing players into lineups, in the event that any of the key players are utilized. With the primary receivers all projected highly tonight, but only so much available volume and scoring, it follows that if one truly explodes for tournament-winning upside, his teammates will see a bit of a downgrade. These groups will allow all of the available pairings to happen but will limit the frequency that Julio Jones will land in a Flex role if A.J. Brown is the Captain, for example. This should also help with limiting negatively leveraged plays in lineups.

Game Concept – The Unexpected

Key Player(s): Darrell Henderson Jr., Jeremy McNichols, Adrian Peterson, Sony Michel – Captain versions

Setting: At least three

Group: Robert Woods, Van Jefferson Jr., Tyler Higbee, Randy Bullock, Matt Gay, Matthew Stafford, Ryan Tannehill, Adrian Peterson, Anthony Firkser, Marcus Johnson

As we just saw in this afternoon’s Bills game, anything can happen on the gridiron. With all eyes looking to the skies for NFL DFS production in this one, there is a contrarian approach to simply keeping things grounded in the Captain role. While history shows that this is not the most frequent winning approach in contest with similar game totals, it is not an impossibility that a running back Captain play can take the night. This group utilizes any of the running backs in the Captain role and forces three players from a group that includes both quarterbacks, both kickers, and all of the primary positive leverage plays on the board.


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

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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