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Optimizer Groups: Optimal TNF NFL Daily DraftKings & FanDuel Picks | Patriots vs. Falcons

Terry McBride

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FREE Week 11 Thursday Night Football NFL DFS optimizer picks for DraftKings and FanDuel using Awesemo's expert lineups, rankings & projections tonight

After spending most of the season against the notion of an expanded 17-game regular season, the fact that it is somehow already Week 11 of the NFL DFS year suddenly makes the bonus game a godsend. With both DraftKings and FanDuel continuing to offer excellent prize pools and strong contests for single-game and Showdown format primetime games, Thursday Night Football is a major target for profitable tournament play on both sites. Tonight’s contest sees the Patriots traveling to Atlanta to tangle with the Falcons. The game is carrying a middling 47-point total with the visitors favored by 6.5 in Vegas. There are interesting options on both sides of the ball, and our historical sampling points to a mix of potential winning combinations for lineup construction tonight.

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 Thursday Night Football DraftKings and FanDuel Showdown lineups.

Check out EMac’s Thursday Night Football NFL DFS Showdown Spotlight for further in-depth analysis and top plays for each position tonight.

NFL DFS Optimizer Picks: Week 11 Thursday 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.

Tonight’s game has a 47-point total and a 6.5-point spread. There are 14 games in the sample that fall within a half-point in either direction of that total, giving us an interesting closely related sample, though most of those games had a tighter point spread. Within the 14-game sample there is a mix of results that is unique in comparison to other samples throughout the season. This set of games includes five lineups that were built as 4-2 and another four that were 5-1 constructions. The typically most frequent winning 3-3 build only appears three times in this sample, with 2-4 taking the remaining spots. The primary trend does continue through this sample, however: Quarterbacks remain vital to success. Only two of the 14 lineups did not include a quarterback, while four of the winners rostered both passers. Quarterbacks took just one victory in the Captain role, keeping the trend of finding them more useful in Flex spots alive and well, and tying them with kickers with one win apiece.

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The primary winners in this game configuration were pass-catchers, six of the winning lineups featured a wide receiver captain, with a tight end taking an additional victory. The running back position took the remaining five victories. Three of the winning running back lineups included defenses, but only one included a kicker. Overall, defense was more useful in the sample, landing in a Flex spot in half of the winning constructions, while kickers managed just four appearances.

Expanding the sample to include games totaled from 45.5 to 48.5, there are 30 data points and immediately see that 14 of the winning lineups were built with pass-catcher Captains. Running backs take another 10 of the winning Captain spots in the sample, with most of the wins coming as 4-2 constructions. 12 of the 30 winning lineups in this sample were 3-3 builds while nine of them were 4-2 constructions. Only four of the lineups failed to include a quarterback, but only four lineups had a quarterback in the winning Captain role.

Ignoring the game total and focusing on contests with a point spread between six and seven, there are 20 comparable games. The list includes a quarterback in all but one lineup, but only three that were in the Captain role. 11 of the 20 winners were built with pass-catchers in the Captain spot, with five running backs and one kicker Captain victory rounding out the sample. Interestingly, 14 of the 20 winning lineups in games with similar point spreads were 3-3 constructions.

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.

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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 Kyle Pitts in the Captain role as the key player. It will then force all constructions featuring Pitts 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 correlation plays from both sides.

NFL DFS Optimizer Optimal Lineup Picks Today Tonight DraftKings FanDuel WEek 11 free expert rankings projections predictions ownership top stacks groups premium data tools fantasy football Yahoo ESPN CBS how to win money playing DFS betting picks best bets odds lines predictions player props this week

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.

NFL DFS Optimizer Optimal Lineup Picks Today Tonight DraftKings FanDuel WEek 11 free expert rankings projections predictions ownership top stacks groups premium data tools fantasy football Yahoo ESPN CBS how to win money playing DFS betting picks best bets odds lines predictions player props this week

Key Players: All primary skill-players as Captain

Setting: At least one

Group: Mac Jones & Matt Ryan – Captain 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.

(Cordarrelle Patterson is a game-time decision; if he plays, he should be added to the list of Key players)

Game Concept — Pats Passing

NFL DFS Optimizer Optimal Lineup Picks Today Tonight DraftKings FanDuel WEek 11 free expert rankings projections predictions ownership top stacks groups premium data tools fantasy football Yahoo ESPN CBS how to win money playing DFS betting picks best bets odds lines predictions player props this week

Key Player(s): Jakobi Meyers – Captain version

Setting: At least 3

Group: Mac Jones, Matt Ryan, Kyle Pitts, Tajae Sharpe, Russell Gage, Nick Folk, Mike Davis, Brandon Bolden

After 39 games and 135 NFL receptions, Jakobi Meyers finally has a touchdown to his name. The Patriots wide receiver is just one candidate for the Captain role in this group, the other primary receivers can be added along with him as Captains with an “if any” rule, or they can replace him, but if betting on the floodgates opening and the player who is the third-most frequently optimal Captain play on DraftKings, Meyers is the man. The receiver will trigger a simple group that includes the positively leveraged skill players from the opposing team, both quarterbacks, the Patriots’ kicker, and the best leverage play from the New England running back corps.

(Cordarrelle Patterson is a game-time decision; if he plays, he should be added to this group and the list of Key players)


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Game Script – Ground Game

Key Player(s): Mike Davis, Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson, Brandon Bolden, Wayne Gallman

Setting: At least 4

Group: Mike Davis, Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson, Brandon Bolden, Wayne Gallman – Standard versions; Mac Jones, Matt Ryan, Jakobi Meyers, Russell Gage, Tajae Sharpe, Kyle Pitts

This group forces four players from a high-end list that includes both quarterbacks, the full running back corps, and the most positively leveraged upside skill players from both sides. The group should force uneven constructions with somewhat unique combinations of players, while most frequently including a quarterback (this can be locked in by using the quarterback group above in tandem with this group) and a mix of skill players that will create logical scoring flow and provide leverage to the slate’s ownership.

(Cordarrelle Patterson is a game-time decision; if he plays, he should be added to this group and the list of Key players)


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

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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