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
The biggest impact on our decision-making matrices this week should be the size of the slate, as there are simply more opportunities for outlier production to develop on a 13-game slate when compared to a 10-game slate (which we’ve grown accustomed to over the previous three weeks). As such, we need to be willing to embrace a little additional variance as those 95-99% outlier games are going to be more prevalent than on a standard week, theoretically reducing the significance of the standard 80%+ outcomes we typically hunt for in these contests. The theoretical aspects of a larger slate also mean we can stray further from optimal and still take down a large field GPP, making this week best attacked (at least from a theoretical sense) through tight correlations and varied one-offs, increasing our exposure to 95-99% outlier production with our one-offs. As in, the bulk of rosters should be built similarly to how we’ve taught throughout this season (and beyond), but we should be looking to vary our one-off exposure more than on a standard week as we hunt for extreme outlier production. That was a lot of theory, but I thought it was important to understand due to the changing dynamics of the slate itself – and we’ll go further into this idea in The Slate podcast.
The top-level slate view contains just two games with a game total over 45.0 points, four teams with Vegas implied team totals over 25.0 points, and various other teams implied for just over three touchdowns. I won’t belabor the importance of touchdowns any more than we have already this season (and, again, beyond).
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.
Expansive chalk. Goff’s Week 17 salary is very likely a solid $1,000 too low, making him probably the cash and small-field quarterback of choice this week. He does not come without risk playing on a team with a high red zone rush rate, but the on-paper matchup and recent team play calling trends indicate a player of immense value this weekend.
Restrictive chalk. I honestly don’t understand where all this ownership is coming from considering Tyrian Davis-Price saw early snaps last week after not playing until the fourth quarter the weeks before. As in, there is far more uncertainty with CMC than on a standard week considering the 49ers are all but locked into the three-seed in the NFC, creating a possibility his touches are managed in a game they are expected to walk away with.
Neither restrictive nor expansive chalk. This one might come down at some point as the thinking all week was that ‘Mondre would play with no restriction and Damien Harris would be out. Damien Harris has now been removed from the injury report entirely while Stevenson drew the questionable tag. Either way, consider Stevenson a solid floor option with a ceiling unlikely to sink you for not playing.
Restrictive chalk. The dude’s a boss, the matchup is good, and he’s seen eight or more targets in all fully healthy games dating back to Week 12 of his rookie season. That said, he has touchdowns in just four games this season on a team dedicated to the run in the red zone and will need to approach double-digit receptions and a score in order to return a GPP-viable score on his low aDOT. I would argue the only two optimal ways of playing St. Brown are paired with Goff or in a bring-back with Justin Fields, as his blowup games have come in games with a combined 54 points, 53 points, 61 points, and 63 points.
Expansive chalk. On one hand, Garrett Wilson has proven to be a WR1/2 borderline player with quarterbacks not named Zach Wilson. On the other hand, the Seahawks have allowed the third fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this season. I likely won’t end up here on my tighter builds but also won’t make a convincing argument against playing him in all formats, as he very clearly has a path to reaching 30 fantasy points (albeit with a lower percentage chance of actually happening in this matchup).
Expansive chalk. Of the top three pass-catchers in Jacksonville (Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, and Evan Engram), Engram is both the oldest and has the worst grades against zone coverage, the former of which is important due to the meaning (or lack thereof) of this game, and the latter of which is important due to the coverage tendencies exhibited this season from the Texans. This ownership is highly likely inflated due to his recent performance, more than it is an indication of a top on-paper play.
Expansive chalk. I have absolutely nothing negative to say about the Niners D/ST this week. In fact, they are the top on-paper play at the position.