Sunday, Jan 29th — Early
Sunday, Jan 29th — Late
Bye Week:
Bears
Bills
Broncos
Browns
Buccaneers
Cardinals
Chargers
Colts
Commanders
Cowboys
Dolphins
Falcons
Giants
Jaguars
Jets
Lions
Packers
Panthers
Patriots
Raiders
Rams
Ravens
Saints
Seahawks
Steelers
Texans
Titans
Vikings

End Around 15.22

Hilow is a game theory expert (courses at Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and Northwestern) and tournament champion who focuses on mid/high-stakes single-entry/three-entry max

MACRO SLATE VIEW::

Beyond discussing how few top-level expected game environments we have on this slate, there is very, very little certainty. That said, the field always talks itself into perceived certainty through crowd psychology, survivalist groupthink mentalities, and an innate disdain for the unknown, meaning this “ugly” slate could best be described as a slate with very clear biases and fragile chalk. It’s time to get weird again, friends, embracing additional variance in a +EV manner. In addition, current ownership projections paint a very clear picture of how most of the field will choose to allocate their salary across rosters, giving us a slate where we can efficiently differentiate via salary allocation. This is a fun one, y’all – let’s dive in!

RESTRICTIVE CHALK VS EXPANSIVE CHALK::

Quick explanation: restrictive chalk is an expected highly owned piece that restricts the maneuverability of the remainder of your roster while expansive chalk is an expected highly owned piece that allows for higher amounts of maneuverability on the remainder of your roster. Classifying various forms of chalk as either restrictive or expansive allows us to visualize what it means for roster construction on a given slate and how restrictive a certain player might be, meaning more of the field will look similar from a roster construction standpoint with that piece.

PATRICK MAHOMES

Restrictive chalk. The quarterback for the team with the highest Vegas implied team total (32.0 is laughably high), makes sense. The biggest problem is that none of the Kansas City skill position players are playing more than 80% of the offensive snaps, making stacks more difficult to nail down. JuJu Smith-Schuster and Travis Kelce are the two hovering around 80% snap rates, making them the likeliest bets.

DERRICK HENRY

Restrictive chalk. The biggest problem for the King hasn’t been per-touch efficiency or lack of work, it’s been Titans game scripts that have muted second half production. Against a Chargers team that finally has its full complement of starting skill position players, and Herbert attempting 47 or more passes in three consecutive games, the bet here is that the Titans are forced to continue actually running an NFL offense into the second half. That makes Henry most optimally played as part of a game stack.

JOSH JACOBS

Restrictive chalk. Always one of Josh Jacobs or Davante Adams is still fully in effect, it’s just that the field seems to be comfy with the one in a more difficult on-paper matchup. The Patriots allow the second fewest fantasy points per game to opposing backfields and have given up just three rushing scores all season.

ALVIN KAMARA

Restrictive chalk. Kamara has scored three touchdowns all season. All three of those scores came in one game. The matchup is pristine, the workload should remain high with Mark Ingram done for the season, and the desperation factor is high for a Saints team that needs a win to keep their fleeting playoff hopes alive. Let’s hope New Orleans ironed out the kinks during their Week 14 bye. I typically let expected ownership bias my decisions for players with wide ranges of outcomes, but there’s something about Kamara this week that I can’t quite shake.

JAMES CONNER

Restrictive chalk. This one is funny. As you’ll soon see, both James Conner and his opposing defense, the Broncos, make an appearance on the list of chalk this week. Conner has the backfield largely to himself (97% and 95% snap rates their last two games), bringing an extremely solid floor to the table this week. That said, he has not put up a 4x salary multiplier at his current salary once this season and is the running back for a team implied to score just 17.5 points.

CHRIS MOORE

Expansive chalk. The slot receiver for a team playing the Chiefs, a team who cedes the majority of the pass volume against to the slot, for a price of just $4,200. I can get behind that. The Texans will not only be without their top two wide receivers, but they will also be missing their starting (and workhorse) running back.

GARRETT WILSON

Expansive chalk. Further discussion below.

NELSON AGHOLOR

Expansive chalk. Agholor was forced into an every-down role for the Patriots in Week 14 with Parker leaving early with a concussion. Jakobi Meyers missed that contest with a concussion and has yet to be cleared from protocol this week (update: Meyers is expected to play). Either way, Agholor should be on the field a bunch this week against an opponent likely to force the Patriots into some level of discomfort (the Raiders average a solid 23.7 points per game this season).

TRAVIS KELCE

Restrictive chalk. Not much to be said outside of the clear roster construction funnel he causes.

BRONCOS D/ST

Expansive chalk. The Broncos fell to fourth in the league in points allowed per game after the Chiefs put up 34 on them, but this is still an elite defense at point suppression. The problem is that they have generated just over one turnover per game (16 in 13 games) and have returned double-digit fantasy points just three times this year. They also play in a game environment likely to be muted, against a team likely to bias their attack to the ground. And when the Cardinals do throw, it is likely to be over the short areas of the field (less opportunity for interceptions). I dunno, man, I don’t get this one. 

CHALK BUILD::

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