Week 5 is here already, the NFL DFS season is flying by, and we have a reasonable handle on what to expect from the teams around the league at this point. With the Rams traveling to Seattle to face the Seahawks, Las Vegas is seeing this contest exactly as high-scoring and closely contested as one might expect. A 54-point total and just a 2-point spread, with hometown Seattle coming in as the underdog, means that anything can happen, and we should expect major point-scoring upside in our NFL DFS lineups in DraftKings Showdown and FanDuel contests tonight. Using the NFL DFS projections to help us build our NFL DFS optimizer groups, we’ll go over some of the best picks for tonight’s TNF game.
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 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.
Thursday’s game has few analogs in our historical sample from the past two seasons. There are only 10 games that were totaled within a point and a half in either direction, and only one of those had a spread of less than three. That contest saw an oddball lineup take the top spot with a running back, both quarterbacks each stacked with a receiver, and the defense correlating with the running back Captain in a 4-2 construction. Of the 10 contests, running backs and pass catchers split the Captaincy equally with four victories each, while quarterbacks landed in the spot twice. Every winning lineup featured at least one quarterback, while four of 10 selected both. Once again, 3-3 builds were the dominant construction, seeing victory in half of the contests in the sample. Only one lineup featuring a defense in the Flex position and only two lineups featuring kickers managed the trick.
Ignoring the heavy point total and instead focusing on games with a similar point spread, we see a 19-game sample with spreads between a pick ’em and 2.5 points. The majority of games in the sample are totaled in the high-40s, so there is not a direct comparison for what is expected to be a shootout of a game. Awesemo’s game script adjusted passing rate projection for this week has both of these teams ranked in the top-12, with Seattle landing at 60.1% and Los Angeles coming in at 62.1%. With this in mind, it may be worth more to focus on the eight of 19 wins held down by pass catcher Captains in this point-spread-based sample, while giving less credence to the eight that were won with running backs in that role. The passing game-focused wins came in games with an average Vegas total of 49.3, while the running back wins were in games with an average total of 48.4. All but two of the winning lineups in close point-spread games included at least one quarterback. Interestingly, rostering both quarterbacks was the more frequent winner in this sample, coming up victorious in nine of 18 contests. Only two of those builds had one of the quarterbacks in the Captain role, while six of them featured pass catchers (five wide receivers and one tight end). No 5-1 or 1-5 construction was a winner when rostering both quarterbacks in this sample, suggesting that correlation remains important.
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 Tyler Lockett in the Captain role as the key player. It will then force all constructions featuring Lockett in the Captain role to 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: Matthew Stafford & Russell Wilson – 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: Darrell Henderson Jr., Alex Collins, Chris Carson (Q), Sony Michel, Travis Homer – Captain versions
Setting: at least 4
Group: Matthew Stafford, Russell Wilson, Van Jefferson Jr., DeSean Jackson, Freddie Swain, Tyler Higbee, Gerald Henderson, Will Dissly, Darrell Henderson Jr., Alex Collins, Sony Michel, Chris Carson
This group attempts to capture a version of this game in which the offense is flowing, the passes are flying, but the running backs are the ones crossing the goal line with the ball when it counts. In this format, we will roster a running back Captain, which is trending as a positive leverage play. In this narrative we see the passing volume maintained, but we shift touchdown upside to the Captain, meaning we will want to fill the Flex positions with quarterbacks and pass catchers, rather than defense and kickers as some may be inclined with a running back focused build. This group deliberately excludes the premium pass catchers from both teams, leaving one open spot and plenty of available salary space to force a rotation of them through in what should be lineups that largely leave salary on the table to enhance differentiation potential. It is worth noting that Chris Carson is a true game-time decision tonight, after not practicing all week following a neck injury.
Concept — Premium Receiver Captain with Two Quarterbacks (both groups below are required)
Key Players: All premium pass catchers – Captain versions
Setting: Exactly Two
Group: Matthew Stafford & Russell Wilson
This is the first part of a two-group requirement. This group can be easily created by making minor adjustments to the group above that forces one pass catcher with any skill player Captain, simply trim the Captains to the relevant receivers. This group requires the next group as a second step that includes several of the lesser pass catchers and other relevant players at positive leverage in the Flex role while leaving an additional spot open. These groups create a very specific set of lineups in a small pool of available constructions, adding low-cost players to the second group can help open additional construction paths for more entries.
Key Players: All premium pass catchers – Captain versions – the same list as the in part one above
Setting: At least two
Group: Van Jefferson Jr., DeSean Jackson, Freddie Swain, D’Wayne Eskridge, Tyler Higbee, Gerald Everett, Will Dissly, Sony Michel, Travis Homer
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