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NFL DFS Picks: Optimizer Groups-Think: Week 3 Fantasy Lineup Constructions: Sunday Update

Terry McBride

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nfl picks

Nothing like a week full of injuries to big-name players to shake up our groups going into NFL DFS Week 3! With pandemonium across the league and several major stars hitting the injured reserve list, the slate should be rife with opportunities for value and also loaded with some very chalky plays. With that in mind, its important to keep an eye on the top stacks tool to see where the public is landing when setting your exposures.

Setting these groups will make stacks happen, but you still need to control individual player exposure levels. Some people utilize formulas based on projections, ceiling, leverage against the field and at the position and other metrics, others simply set a global cap at each position. Either approach can be effective, depending on the thought you put into things.

The settings and groups I mention here are exactly what I’m using and have gotten GPP-winning results with already this season. As always, be sure to check back on Sunday for the morning update that will refresh the group recommendations with any news and refinements.


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NFL DFS – Fantasy Cruncher Groups-Think: Week 3

While something far more complex than it ever needed to be sets my exposure caps per player for me in Excel, I would approach setting global caps by considering the public ownership projection maximums at each position and acting accordingly. At a high-variance position like wide receiver, I want to get a bigger spread across numerous lineups, so I might set my maximum exposure to the top handful of receivers – taking stack values into consideration – at around the maximum player’s exposure and then set the next two tiers of receivers to lower exposures but very heavy randomness to create some mix. At a more volume based position like running back that is consistently more projectable, I would set individual exposures to the top handful of backs, reflecting where I want to be on them as compared to the field and then create a few broad tiers with caps like 15-25%, 5-15% and 1-5% based on expectation.

Last, as I mentioned for a few critical players last week, it is very important that we set exposure caps on any extreme value players. Someone who is expected to get volume at minimum price, for example, needs to be accounted for so that they don’t become the only play in our stacks or run-back spots. If there is one value receiver on a team with several good options, we don’t want to get 45% of the value guy and only small shares of the highly-projected players. Caps and filters will help control this.

Since we’re using the quarterback as our key player, our quarterback caps can double as team stack exposure controls. Make sure to take the time to set them individually, it will help drive your crunches in the right direction.


Stack Rules:

QB with at least one RB/WR/TE from Opposing Team

QB with at least one WR/TE from Same Team (note: It’s fine to make this two or to utilize two of these, one with WR/TE and one with RB/WR/TE, but we can refine that and get it exactly how we want it via Groups)

QB with at most zero DST from Same Team (personal preference)

Limit Rules: 

Limit QB/RB/WR/TE from Same Team to three

Limit RB/WR/TE from Same Team to one unless paired with QB from Same Team OR Opposing Team

Limit RB from Same Team to one (I’m also doing this with WR in a separate rule that adds an “unless paired with QB or opposing QB” but it’s personal preference)

Construction: 

Add players to groups. Select the quarterback (or otherwise indicated player) as the Key Player for both his team’s group and the recommended opposing group. This is a different group than the group that will stack the other side of this game. For example, I will have four groups for the Detroit at Arizona game: Detroit, Detroit Opposing, Arizona and Arizona Opposing.

Sunday Update:

There were several key changes throughout the slate since the original version ran. I made note of removals, additions and reasons.


Arizona Cardinals

Key Player: Kyler Murray

Setting: At least one (I’m going back to one here despite Arizona’s eighth-ranked 39 passing attempts per-game. I removed Kenyan Drake from the stack but want to account for lineups getting to him at running back anyway, without tripling-up on the spot accidentally).

Group: DeAndre HopkinsLarry Fitzgerald, Dan Arnold, Andy Isabella, (Christian Kirk out, Chase Edmonds removed for volume, Andy Isabella added)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, T.J. Hockenson, Danny Amendola (I don’t need the running back timeshare coming back here)

Atlanta Falcons

Key Player: Matt Ryan

Setting: At least two

Group: Julio Jones, Todd Gurley, Calvin Ridley, Hayden Hurst, Russell Gage

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Allen Robinson, David Montgomery, Anthony Miller, Darnell Mooney

Buffalo Bills

Key Player: Josh Allen

Setting: At least two (the Bills hit big for us last week and I like the spot again this time out. With Josh Allen throwing the ball 40 times per game, there are more than enough targets to support a two-player requirement).

Group: Stefon Diggs, John Brown, Cole Beasley, Devin Singletary (Dawson Knox out; removed Zack Moss based on volume previously, also out)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Malcom Brown, Tyler Higbee

Carolina Panthers

Key Player: Teddy Bridgewater

Setting: At least one (bumping this down to one to account for the difference between high-priced McCaffrey and low-priced Mike Davis in the pass-catching running back role in this offense. We should see most of the Davis plus a second skill player shares that we need naturally, with his overall value on the slate).

Group: D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson, Curtis Samuel, Ian Thomas, Mike Davis (obviously McCaffrey has been removed here)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Hunter Henry, Joshua Kelley (I try to avoid secondary running backs without heavy passing game volume, but Kelley has justified joining the group, he had 23 carries and two receptions on three targets last week).

Chicago Bears

Key Player: Mitchell Trubisky

Setting: At least one (I’ll let Montgomery plus another skill player happen naturally rather than forcing too many lineups that feature the construction)

Group: Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller, David Montgomery, Darnell Mooney, Jimmy Graham (I’m borderline on Graham after just one target last week and I removed Tarik Cohen for target reasons, for the moment. This offense isn’t supporting much volume in the passing game, I would rather get it at receivers or the featured back who has seen three targets each of the first two weeks).

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Julio Jones, Todd Gurley, Calvin Ridley, Hayden Hurst, Russell Gage

Cincinnati Bengals

Key Player: Joe Burrow

Setting: At least two (The Bengals lead the league in passing attempts with 48.5 per game. They are throwing a ton of volume to each skill position)

Group: A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, Joe Mixon, Tee Higgins, Giovani Bernard, Drew Sample (Bernard has seen 12 targets in two games; Sample will be the primary tight end in an offense that has targeted the position 21 times in two games)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Miles Sanders, Zach Ertz, DeSean Jackson, Dallas Goedert (I’m not entirely against adding Greg Ward here and would do it in some crunches)

Cleveland Browns

Key Player: Baker Mayfield

Setting: At least two

Group: Odell Beckham, Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, Jarvis Landry, Austin Hooper

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Antonio Gibson, Terry McLaurin, Logan Thomas, Steven Sims Jr., Dontrelle Inman

Dallas Cowboys

Key Player: Dak Prescott

Setting: At least two

Group: Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, CeeDee Lamb, Dalton Schultz

Opposing Setting: At least one (you can run a batch with this at two and load up on a few full game stacks with the heavy total what should be a shootout)

Group: Tyler Lockett, Chris Carson, D.K. Metcalf, David Moore (I like Moore’s upside but be certain to set an individual exposure cap so you don’t get him as your return player far too often with his low price; the TE volume in this offense has been low so neither Jimmy Graham nor Will Dissly are included here)

Denver Broncos

Key Player: Jeff Driskel (be sure to change this from the injured Drew Lock or you will get no Broncos stacks)

Setting: At least two (it might be smart to make this just one this week)

Group: Melvin Gordon, Jerry Jeudy (Q), Noah Fant, Tim Patrick, KJ Hamler (Removed Courtland Sutton and added Hamler; Jeudy expected to go, he was a full practice participant.)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, Leonard Fournette, Scott Miller

Detroit Lions

Key Player: Matthew Stafford

Setting: At least two (our running backs limiter will split the Johnson and Swift NFL DFS shares for us here)

Group: Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, T.J. Hockenson, Danny Amendola, D’Andre Swift (Golladay returns, Quintez Cephus and Adrian Peterson removed on expected volume in the passing game, they aren’t seeing enough to support NFL DFS production)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: DeAndre Hopkins, Kenyan Drake, Larry Fitzgerald, Dan Arnold, Andy Isabella (Kirk and Edmonds removed; Isabella added)

Houston Texans

Key Player: DeShaun Watson

Setting: At least two

Group: David Johnson, Will Fuller, Brandin Cooks, Randall Cobb, Jordan Akins

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: James Conner, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, Eric Ebron, James Washington

Indianapolis Colts

Key Player: Philip Rivers

Setting: At least two

Group: T.Y. Hilton, Nyheim Hines, Jonathan Taylor, Zach Pascal, Michael Pittman Jr. Jack Doyle (Mo Alie-Cox removed, Doyle expected to go. With a limited Doyle returning from injury, this isn’t a great situation potentially splitting would could otherwise be valuable TE targets)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Braxton Berrios, Chris Hogan, Chris Herndon


Looking for more NFL DFS picks content? We’ve got loads of articles, data, cheatsheets and more on the Awesemo NFL home page.


Las Vegas Raiders

Key Player: Derek Carr

Setting: At least two

Group: Darren Waller (Q), Josh Jacobs (Q), Hunter Renfrow, Bryan Edwards (Waller and Jacobs are both expected to go after missing practices with various nagging injuries following their Monday game; Ruggs out)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry, Damiere Byrd, Rex Burkhead (James White is out again following his family tragedy. Burkead over Michel here for the passing game involvement, he’s the more direct White replacement in the offense)

Los Angeles Chargers

Key Player: Justin Herbert (be sure to change this from Tyrod Taylor)

Setting: At least one

Group: Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen, Hunter Henry, Mike Williams, Joshua Kelley

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Mike Davis, D.J. Moore, Curtis Samuel, Robby Anderson, Ian Thomas

Los Angeles Rams

Key Player: Jared Goff

Setting: At least two

Group: Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Malcom Brown, Tyler Higbee, Darrell Henderson

Opposing Group: At least one

Group: Stefon Diggs, John Brown, Devin Singletary, Cole Beasley

Minnesota Vikings

Key Player: Kirk Cousins

Setting: At least one (we should get plenty of Cook along with Cousins-Thielen and limited Cousins-X stacks without forcing the second spot)

Group: Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen, Justin Jefferson, Alexander Mattison, Olabisi Johnson (Johnson added)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Derrick Henry, Corey Davis, Jonnu Smith, Adam Humphries (A.J. Brown out)

New England Patriots

Key Player: Cam Newton

Setting: At least two

Group: Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry, Damiere Byrd, Rex Burkhead (James White out; Burkhead added)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Josh Jacobs, Darren Waller, Henry Ruggs III, Hunter Renfrow, Bryan Edwards

New York Giants

Key Player: Daniel Jones

Setting: At least two

Group: Darius Slayton, Evan Engram, Golden Tate, Devonta Freeman,  (Saquon Barkley and Sterling Shepard removed for injuries; Gallman and Freeman were added originally but between the two of them and Dion Lewis the situation is too unpredictable to be comfortably included for NFL DFS purposes)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Jeff Wilson, Jerick McKinnon, Kendrick Bourne, Brandon Aiyuk, Jordan Reed (Kittle out and removed; Reed added)

New York Jets

Key Player: Sam Darnold

Setting: At least one

Group: Braxton Berrios, Chris Hogan, Chris Herndon, Josh Malone (Crowder out and removed; Malone added)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Jonathan Taylor, T.Y. Hilton, Michael Pittman Jr., Nyheim Hines, Zach Pascal (feel free to include your Indy TE of choice, too unpredictable for me, I don’t want to lock in run-it-back zeroes)


Check out the NFL DFS Content Schedule to keep up with all the latest articles, shows, podcasts and whatever else we come up with!


Philadelphia Eagles

Key Player: Carson Wentz

Setting: At least two

Group: Zach Ertz, Miles Sanders, DeSean Jackson, Boston Scott, Dallas Goedert, Greg Ward (Jalen Reagor out)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Joe Mixon, Tyler Boyd, A.J. Green, Tee Higgins, Drew Sample, Giovani Bernard (feel free to leave Bernard out, it’s a very specific needle to thread)

Pittsburgh Steelers

Key Player: Ben Roethlisberger

Setting: At least two

Group: James Conner, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, Eric Ebron, James Washington, Jaylen Samuels

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: David Johnson, Brandin Cooks, Will Fuller, Randall Cobb, Jordan Akins

San Francisco 49ers

Key Player: Nick Mullens (be sure to change this one as well)

Setting: At least two

Group: Jeff Wilson, Brandon Aiyuk, Kendrick Bourne, Jerick McKinnon, Jordan Reed (Kittle out; Reed added)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Darius Slayton, Golden Tate, Evan Engram (if you have a read on a Giants lead RB you can add him, I do not.)

Seattle Seahawks

Key Player: Russell Wilson

Setting: At least two

Group: Tyler Lockett, D.K. Metcalf, Chris Carson, Greg Olsen, David Moore (removing Olsen is fine here, volume to the TE in this offense has been limited but Olsen has run 47 routes and received five targets to Will Dissly’s 18 routes and three targets)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, CeeDee Lamb, Dalton Schultz

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Key Player: Tom Brady

Setting: At least two

Group: Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, Leonard Fournette, Scott Miller, (Godwin back; Watson removed; Ronald Jones removed; Gronkowski removed)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Melvin Gordon, Jerry Jeudy, Noah Fant, K.J. Hamler, Tim Patrick

Tennessee Titans

Key Player: Ryan Tannehill

Setting: At least two

Group: Derrick Henry, Corey Davis, Jonnu Smith, Adam Humphries (A.J. Brown out; one could argue for including tight end Anthony Firsker here, he would be my choice over receiver Kalif Raymond just on previous volume, but neither projects particularly well and I’m fine keeping this to a tight group)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen, Justin Jefferson, Alexander Mattison (Adding Olabisi Johnson here feels a bit too cute, it’s a tough ask for the third banana receiver in what has been a limited passing offense so far to deliver as our run-it-back player, he’s best left for stacks and infrequent one-off value plays)

Washington Football Team

Key Player: Dwayne Haskins

Setting: At least one (lowered to one and removed running game from the stack. We’ll take what we can get adding Gibson to this in places naturally, there’s no need to force too much of one of the lowest implied team totals on the board)

Group: Terry McLaurinSteven Sims, Dontrelle Inman, Logan Thomas

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Odell Beckham, Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, Jarvis Landry, Austin Hooper


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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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