Sunday Night Football features a Week 17 matchup that NFL schedule makers must have viewed as an excellent opportunity for a fun and important primetime shootout with playoff implications. Of course, with the Packers at 12-3 and the Vikings coming in at a disappointing 7-8 and without starting quarterback Kirk Cousins, this game simply does not live up to that promise. The Vegas board sees things similarly, the hometown Packers are overwhelming 13-point favorites in a game carrying just a 42.5 total. The ridiculously slanted implied totals are creating a virtual wipeout situation in lineup crunches, which when run with no groups or restrictions come up largely in favor of 5-1 Packers constructions. The pricing available on this slate is also creating a situation where premium lineup constructions are not spending all of the available money. In an unrestricted crunch with no randomness and only one unique player required – essentially an ordered list of the highest projected available lineups – only 13 of the top 150 lineups spent the full $50,000 on DraftKings. 119 of the 150 lineups spent $49,700 or less in the same crunch while favoring the ridiculously popular expensive skill players and the quarterback from the Packers in high numbers. Forcing lineup constructions with groups can be a powerful weapon on this slate, it seems like the only clean way to differentiate lineups constructions on FanDuel and in DraftKings NFL DFS Showdown 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 DraftKings and FanDuel Showdown lineups tonight.
NFL DFS Optimizer Picks: Week 17 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.
Given the wild pricing structure for tonight’s contests, this slate has no true comparison points in our historical sampling. The availability of a quarterback at a $6,000 base price on DraftKings completely changes what we can observe about the position and the impact of the salary multiplier when using quarterbacks in the Captain role, for example. Going purely by the board in Las Vegas and focusing on the football side of things, however, we can find a list of 14 games within a point of tonight’s 42.5 total. Seven of those 14 slates were won by running back Captain plays, including a game with a -15.5 favorite and a 10-point favorite in another contest. Among the running back lineups, the most common winning construction was a 3-3 build, which saw five of the seven victories.
Quarterbacks and wide receivers accounted for just two wins each, this is normal in a sample of this size for passers, but far lower than we typically see for pass-catchers. The position is somewhat muted in value when we have such a low total, and we have a big point spread to contend with as well. This situation actually leans into the idea of a team defense at the Captain spot more than most slate configurations would. Defenses saw three victories in the 14-game sample, all three of those lineups were 5-1 constructions, and all three of those games featured at least a 10-point favorite. In every case, the lineup included just a wide receiver from the opposing team, while two of the three builds rostered the quarterback from the defense’s team, along with several pass-catchers in flex roles.
Overall, quarterbacks remain important, as we typically have seen. The position is included at least once in 11 of the 14 winning lineups. As might follow in a low-totaled game with a big point spread, only three of the winning lineups included both passers, but with the value presented by Minnesota’s quarterback today, it is easy enough to build him into any lineup configuration.
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 Aaron Jones in the Captain role as the key player. It will then force all constructions featuring Jones in the Captain role to include at least four of the players listed in the group including both quarterbacks as well as a mix of positively leveraged options from both sides. That list includes the other primary running backs in the game, both kickers, the tight end corps. and only a few wide receiver options. The group leaves room for additional skill players from the Packers, including salary room for Davante Adams in a flex role.
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: Aaron Rodgers and Sean Mannion – 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.
NFL DFS Concept – Differentiating Dalvin
Key Player(s): Dalvin Cook – Captain version
Setting: At least 3
Group: Aaron Rodgers, Sean Mannion, Aaron Jones, A.J. Dillon, Tyler Conklin, Josiah Deguaria, Marcedes Lewis, Mason Crosby, Greg Joseph, Packers defense
This group is simply looking to plug a few lower-owned positively leveraged plays from the flex position into lineups that feature Vikings star running back Dalvin Cook in the Captain role. These lineups are coming up largely imbalanced when groups are not forced, but those unevenly constructed builds will likely end up highly popular with the frequency at which they appear in optimizers. Pushing a few positively leveraged plays with a requirement of at least three, while also including both quarterbacks as options in the group, allows these lineups to differentiate while remaining highly projected and leaving room for several of the chalky and expensive options in flex roles.
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NFL DFS Concept – Differentiating Davante
Key Player(s): Davante Adams – Captain version
Setting: At least four
Group: Aaron Rodgers, Sean Mannion (+50%), Aaron Jones (-25%), A.J. Dillon (+35%), Packers defense, Vikings defense, Mason Crosby, Greg Joseph, Justin Jefferson (+25%), K.J. Osborn (+25%), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (+15%), Allen Lazard (+15%), Dede Westbrook, Equanimeous St. Brown
This group looks to force a bit of differentiation into Davante Adams lineups. Several of the top lineups will still be rendered chalky, but this group puts interesting constructions that leave money on the table while including viable but under-owned options into play in combination with the most likely top scorers and some of the priciest and most popular options on the slate. The goal here is not to create lineups that have the best on-paper chance of scoring the most points when the incredibly popular and equally high-scoring Adams is the chosen Captain. Instead, the attempt is to create lineups that feature unique combinations, in the hope of creating a lineup that may not win often, but when it wins it will do so as a unique winner, or at least one with dramatically fewer copies atop standings. The group utilizes the optimizer’s ability to tweak the projections for specific players, it attempts to limit the number of lineups with all three of Adams, Aaron Rodgers, and Aaron Jones, preferring the under-owned A.J. Dillon for Packers stacks. The group also forces several other wide receivers from both sides, with padded projections pushing additional shares into lineup constructions.
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