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Optimizer Groups: Week 15 NFL DFS Optimal Lineup Strategy on DraftKings & FanDuel – Tuesday Special + Showdown

Terry McBride

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NFL DFS Optimizer Groups DraftKings Showdown Tuesday Night Football Eagles Football Team Rams Seahawks

A wild Week 15 winds down with a weird Tuesday night NFL DFS slate. Options for gamers include both a two-game standard format and Showdown formats across both sites, with significant prize pools across the board creating a fun and unexpected bonus night of action this week. The slate features a game between the Seahawks and Rams that has a 47-point total and a seven-point home favorite, and a matchup between the Football Team and the Eagles that has an eight-point home favorite but a lowly 41-point game total. Fortunately, interesting options for NFL DFS lineups abound on all sides and across all formats for both DraftKings and FanDuel lineups tonight.

This article focuses on building lineups with a quality foundation by utilizing the powerful Groups and Rules/Limits tools within Fantasy Cruncher. All of the concepts and pairings included below can be applied to hand-building as well, the goal is to create lineups that have high scoring correlation and take advantage of combined outcomes within stacks while limiting the likelihood of building inefficient or negatively correlated entries for a full slate of NFL DFS lineups.

The article also includes our standard Showdown slate coverage for both games, simply scroll down to the second section for NFL DFS Showdown content for DraftKings and FanDuel.

Fantasy Cruncher – New How-To Video

The uptick in questions related to the how-to aspects of Fantasy Cruncher along with several noteworthy new tools demanded a new how-to tutorial video. I put together the above review of all of Fantasy Cruncher’s advanced options with some basic how-to on the constructions, rules, limits, and groups that we use in this article. The tutorial also reviews all of Fantasy Cruncher’s new features and the important distinctions between the various sets of projections that are available.

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Week 15 DraftKings & FanDuel NFL DFS Optimizer Groups & Picks – Tuesday Spectacular

Overview

The Week 1 article featured a deep dive into the general settings menu and various utilities within Fantasy Cruncher, it is still available for anyone who would like to refer back. We will maintain the list of rules and limits below throughout the season, with occasional tweaks, if needed. Each week sees yet another fresh crop of value plays as situations change and injuries create opportunities around the league. These changing roles and emergent value plays are accounted for in the process of creating these groups from week to week. After a large pool of lineups is created utilizing these groups, it is still of critical importance to filter them for factors including ceiling projections and leverage potential, as well as our optimal lineup rates and Boom/Bust potential. Getting to a strong mix of the most optimal positively leveraged plays will be a strong foundation for a large pool of tournament lineups.

DraftKings + FanDuel Stack Rules

This set of rules will force Fantasy Cruncher to build lineups with certain combinations. We are looking to always stack at least one skill player, ideally a pass catcher, with his quarterback while also playing a skill player from the opposing team in the lineup. The theory behind this build is that a high-scoring stack will require some response from the opposing team to truly deliver a ceiling score in most situations, otherwise the team that is ahead will simply slow down and run out the clock. These rules are applied by completing the sentences with selections from the drop-down menu, they follow a very straightforward logic. Exceptions can be made for teams at the bottom of the rule creation window. After a rule is set, click the blue bar to add it, it will appear at the bottom of the screen as a completed rule.

Week 15 NFL DFS Optimizer Picks DraftKings FanDuel Groups stacking optimal lineup strategy advice predictions best bets free expert

QB with at least one WR/TE from Same Team (note: It is 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 for each team via Groups)

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

QB with at most zero DST from Same Team (this is more of a personal preference; high-scoring teams and quarterbacks tend to leave their defenses on the field exposing them to simple point-scoring negatives)

Limit Rules

Limit rules can be applied to restrict certain combinations from coming together. This is powerful for limiting multiple running backs from the same team or getting overweight to a certain stack within a lineup.

Week 15 NFL DFS Optimizer Picks DraftKings FanDuel Groups stacking optimal lineup strategy advice predictions best bets free expert

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 (Tuesday Note: Lineups will not work if this rule is not disabled from our typical settings)

Limit RB from Same Team to one (one can also do this with WR in a separate rule that adds an “unless paired with QB or opposing QB,” but it is a personal preference for NFL DFS)

Construction

These groups are built by utilizing the quarterback as the KEY player (by clicking the key icon next to his name), with the thinking that the quarterback play is the driving factor in which stack is utilized in that lineup. Built to specification, each team will have two groups, a team group, and an opponent group, both of which utilize the same quarterback, so four groups per game. This is the best approach to truly capture the requirement of playing individual “run-back” plays from the opposing team. A more basic approach would be to include all of the skill players from a game in each quarterback’s group and rely on rules and limits to restrict any potential overflow. It is highly recommended to save the Week 1 groups as a foundation that will be updated for the rest of the season. The recommended groups will include skill players who have an active role in their offense and provide significant correlation with their quarterback’s scoring, quite often bell-cow running backs who do not specialize in the passing game will not be included in groups as they are projected highly and appear on their own in basically correct distributions, while also not always providing the strongest positive correlation plays. Stacking quarterbacks with pass catchers and allowing running backs to fall into the lanes then crated by settings, available salary and randomness should create a well-distributed set of quality lineups. These groups are updated weekly to account for changes in utilization, schemes, injuries, target shares, and more.

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Sunday Updates

Well, it is Tuesday, but everything is up to date as of the mid-afternoon and all boost recommendations are included for the multi-game slates. There is one critical rule change to be made from the typical list in order to get lineups to crunch at all this evening, it is listed above.


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NFL DFS Optimizer Picks: Week 15 Team Groups for DraftKings & FanDuel

The goal here is to create a large pool of well-built lineups that can be utilized in any large-field GPP contest. Crunch far more lineups than needed and utilize a sorting table in Excel to filter to the best set of lineups for entries. The lineups created in these crunches should provide a broad distribution that includes some of the lower-owned skill players from each stack. Applying boosts is critical in pushing and pulling ownership on individual players within their team’s stacked lineups.

The groups below are designed so that each quarterback will have two groups to create, one with his skill players and another with the opposing team. A more basic approach would be to add them all to one large group with an “at least three” and let rules and limits set things, but there is a more granular level of control in creating them separately.

Utilizing two groups also allows us to place running backs into the “run-back” position in certain teams while not including them in the primary stack for their team. This is useful when there is a situation with an extremely highly projected running back who does not necessarily fit into his team’s passing game. These players are threaded throughout the following construction recommendations.

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Los Angeles Rams

Key Player: Matthew Stafford

Setting: Between one and two

Group: Cooper Kupp, Odell Beckham Jr. (+15%), Van Jefferson Jr.(+35%), Ben Skowronek (+125%), Darrell Henderson Jr.

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: DK Metcalf, Gerald Everett, Dee Eskridge (+35%), Freddie Swain (+35%), Will Dissly (+35%)

Philadelphia Eagles

Key Player: Jalen Hurts

Setting: At least one

Group: Miles Sanders (-25%), Dallas Goedert, DeVonta Smith (+15%), Jalen Reagor (+15%), Quez Watkins (+15%)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Antonio Gibson (-25%), Terry McLaurin, DeAndre Carter (+35%), Adam Humphries (+35%), John Bates (+35%), Curtis Samuel (+50%) Ricky Seals-Jones

Seattle Seahawks

Key Player: Russell Wilson

Setting: At least one

Group: DK Metcalf, Gerald Everett, Dee Eskridge, Freddie Swain, Will Dissly, Penny Hart

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Cooper Kupp, Odell Beckham Jr. (+15%), Van Jefferson Jr. (+15%), Ben Skowronek (+125%), Darrell Henderson Jr. (-25%)

Washington Football Team

Key Player: Garrett Gilbert

Setting: At least one

Group: Antonio Gibson (-25%), Terry McLaurin, DeAndre Carter (+35%), Adam Humphries (+35%), John Bates (+35%), Ricky Seals-Jones (+35%), Cam Sims (+50%), Dyami Brown (+50%)

Opposing Setting: At least one

Group: Miles Sanders (-15%), Dallas Goedert, DeVonta Smith (+10%), Quez Watkins (+15%), Jalen Reagor (+35%)

Wide Receiver Limiters

Key Player: All four quarterbacks with “if any” key player setting

Setting: Projection alteration only

Group: Cooper Kupp (-20%), DK Metcalf (-10%)

This final group can be deployed to gently nudge down the massive shares of Cooper Kupp and DK Metcalf that arrive in every iteration of every crunch, regardless of quarterback and stack. The two star wide receivers are simply projected at far higher marks than their peers. Utilizing this downgrade should take them from the low 80% range of exposures to the low 70s in an uncapped crunch, monitor results, and adjust accordingly to shape the slate to your liking.

NFL DFS Optimizer Picks: Week 15 Tuesday Night Football – Showdown Format

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.

The matchup between the Seahawks and Rams has a 47-point game total and a 7.5-point home favorite in what should be a fun game that is more competitive than it seems on the board in Vegas. The record of Showdown slates that we have examined through the season features 14 games within a half-point on either side of tonight’s total, revealing a somewhat unique sample of winning lineups.

Among the 14 winners, seven were pass catcher Captain victories, but none of the lineups was the common 3-3 build that we frequently see favoring the position in the Captain spot. The seven wins featured three 5-1 and three 4-2 builds, with a 2-4 as the oddball. In fact, the full sample of 14 games features only a trio of 3-3 winners, two of which featured a running back Captain and one ugly duckling kicker Captain roster. Five of the 14 winning lineups were running back victories, and a single quarterback Captain made the board. As we have seen all season, quarterback salaries edge them out of the optimal Captain role with the cost multiplier, the position is key to success but almost always in the Flex role. The 14 lineups include just one winner that did not roster a quarterback at all, while four winners included both passers. Three winning lineups included a kicker in the Flex role, while seven winners featured a Flex defense. This is the sample that features the winning lineup that rostered two defenses and a kicker in Flex roles, it is also the one that did not include a quarterback in any position and stands out as the most unique winning construction in the sample.

The game no one will be watching sees the hometown Eagles favored by a whopping 10 over the visiting Football Team, in a game carrying just a 40-point total. Washington will be starting quarterback Garrett Gilbert in this game, which helps account for the lack of a competitive situation on the board in Vegas. If we have learned anything from recent NFL weeks it is that truly anything can happen with game outcomes this season, a fact that was reinforced by the Lions’ 18-point victory over Arizona this weekend, for one. The list of winning lineups features only four games with such a low total, the bottom is a 37-point clunker, two games were 40-point totals, and the remaining was a 40.5. Among this microscopic sample we see two quarterback Captain victories, as well as a running back Captain and a defense Captain winner.

Extending the sample to 42.5 points and below, the list grows to 15 games. Within that set, we see a strong theme of running back Captain victories, as well as several of the defensive Captain victories, while pass catchers won the day just three times. All but two of the winning lineups included a quarterback, but only three were in the Captain role. Running backs took six of the victories, while defenses accounted for three. When putting a defense in the Captain role, trends have seemed to favor the onslaught build leaning toward that team’s offensive players in Flex roles in a 5-1 construction. The running back lineups are typically more evenly built. Only four of the 15 lineups included a Flex kicker, while nine of 15 lineups included a defense, six of which were in the Flex role. Defense is a far more viable option in this game shape than any other, it is a strong consideration for this slate.

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)

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 Miles Sanders in the Captain role as the key player. It will then force all constructions featuring Sanders in the Captain role to include at least three of the players listed in the group including both quarterbacks as well as a mix of positively leveraged skill players from a range of salary tiers, both kickers, and the Vikings defense.

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 – adjust from above for the other game

Setting: At least one

Group: Matthew Stafford & Russell Wilson (or) Garrett Gilbert & Justin Fields – 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- Inexpensive QB Captain

Key Player(s): Garrett Gilbert – Captain version

Setting: At least 4

Group: Jalen Hurts, Eagles Defense, Miles Sanders, Dallas Goedert, Terry McLaurin, Adam Humphries, DeAndre Carter, Curtis Samuel, Dyami Brown, John Bates, Ricky Seals-Jones

This group takes advantage of a rare low price on a quarterback who could potentially lead his Showdown slate in scoring. Typically it is not the projection, but the salary and its impact on the rest of the lineup when multiplied that renders quarterback Captains less optimal. When we can have one whose multiplied salary comes in lower than several skill players, it changes the paradigm. The group includes the opposing quarterback as well as the high-priced highly projected players from the Eagles and essentially the full roster for the Football Team. This should result in lineups that land in a variety of configurations, with the possibility of a Washington stack coming together aggressively, but typically with at least three pieces based on our rules. The group should also trend toward full spends with the inclusion of the higher-priced plays. It also includes the Eagles defense against the opposing quarterback as a large-field GPP wildcard.


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NFL DFS Concept – Shootout

Key Player(s): All primary pass catchers – Captain versions

Setting: At least four

Group: Matthew Stafford, Russell Wilson, Cooper Kupp, DK Metcalf, Odell Beckham Jr., Van Jefferson Jr., Freddie Swain, Dee Eskridge, Penny Hart, Ben Skowronek, Tyler Higbee, Gerald Everett, Will Dissly

This group simply leans heavily into the passing game from both sides. The group includes both quarterbacks as well as all of the primary receiving options, but no running backs, kickers, or defenses. Four players from the selection will be included, leaving one spot outside of the group to include one of those options, allow for salary relief, or ensure a complete spend by rostering another star.

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

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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