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
Unique and interesting slate, baby! Beyond the low totals and weather concerns, we have a mix of teams mathematically eliminated from the playoffs and teams fighting for a playoff spot or seeding. And while individual players or teams can succeed without anything left to play for, the additional motivation provided by teams jostling for the playoffs adds additional outs to the equation. Furthermore, while there are only a few top expected game environments on the slate with three totals over a modest 44.0 points (Seahawks @ Chiefs, Giants @ Vikings, and Eagles @ Cowboys), all three games carry more questions than they have answers. Kansas City is a 10-point favorite at home; the Giants and Vikings run conservative offenses in middling matchups, with a game environment less likely to take off than public perception; and the Cowboys have vaulted to 5-point favorites with the Eagles missing their starting quarterback. That said, all of the Lions, Bills, Chiefs, Vikings, Giants, Bengals, 49ers, Eagles, and Cowboys are implied for more than three touchdowns, meaning nine of the 20 teams on the slate are projected to score enough to provide at least one viable GPP asset, per historical norms. We’ll dig further into this idea after we take a look at expected ownership.
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.
Restrictive chalk. 28.6. That’s the low output from CMC over the previous three weeks with Elijah Mitchell out of the lineup in San Francisco. He has done it in all aspects, scoring four touchdowns, seeing 21 combined targets, and hitting the 100-yard bonus twice during that span. Not much left to be said about the best running back in the game on a very RB-friendly offense.
Restrictive chalk. Yea, yea, yea, we know – Derrick Henry has gone over 200 yards on the ground in each of the previous four meetings with the Texans. My 63-year-old mother knows this. That said, King Henry has seen his receiving volume dry up dramatically with Malik Willis in at quarterback, meaning if he doesn’t hit 200/2, he’s likely not sinking you, cost considered. There are also numerous players that have 30+ fantasy points within their ranges of outcomes on this slate, meaning a non-200/2 game could theoretically be made up for elsewhere. Furthermore, the Titans offensive line is extremely banged up right now, with no projected starter for Week 16 achieving even an NFL-average run-blocking rating from PFF this season. That said, Henry is in the top on-paper matchup at the running back position.
Restrictive chalk. I compared Dalvin in this spot to Joe Mixon from his blowup game a couple of months ago. Look, I’m not saying Dalvin is going to put up a top-five-ever fantasy score, simply that his usage and involvement in this offense have left room for a far higher ceiling than he has exhibited thus far, and that variance could all hit at once in this matchup. For more of the “numbers” behind that claim, check out my write-up in the Edge.
Restrictive chalk. Also in the write-up of that game, I talk about how the matchup is sneaky difficult for Quon here, which makes him my least favorite on-paper running back from this pay-up range.
Restrictive chalk. Justin Jefferson chasing history in a cake matchup – yea, sounds good to me.
Restrictive chalk. Opportunity, talent, and matchup are close to tops on the slate for DK this week. I prefer him when stacked with his quarterback, particularly considering most of the field’s exposure to him will be as a bring-back or naked correlated pairing with a member of the Chiefs.
Neither restrictive nor expansive chalk. This feels an awful lot like “I want exposure to this side of the game but don’t want to pay up for Jefferson or Dalvin.” As in, there isn’t much in Hockenson’s profile with the Vikings that screams unrealized upside here.