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
As you will see below, there are a ton of chalk pieces this week and only one of those (and I stretched my threshold just to include him) is from the expected top game environment on the week (Josh Allen). You also should see some questionable salary-savers (as the field likely hunts for value) and numerous mid-range chalk wide receivers. My general observations from this slate have to do with the field seemingly ready to do backflips trying to outsmart themselves and each other. Strip the names, strip the teams, and focus on the true top game environments and top teams. To me, those teams are very clearly the Bills, the Ravens, and the Eagles, in no particular order. Every one of the three-man primary stacks on those teams is expected to garner low combinatorial ownership this week, and it appears the field is largely neglecting those game environments through the lens of basic roster construction optimal practices. These types of slates are amazing because we can just play the top offenses and not have to worry about ownership. Yay!
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. Didn’t quite crack my ownership threshold to be labeled clear chalk, but he’s still expected to garner the highest ownership at the position – and for good reason. That said, there are plenty of leverage possibilities with this one.
Expansive chalk. Jamaal Williams’ running opportunity counts in games that D’Andre Swift missed in 2021:
A tight range of 18-20 running back opportunities on a moderate sample size gives us a good idea of what to expect this week. Hint: if he isn’t scoring twice, you can probably capture better upside elsewhere.
Expansive chalk. I could argue he is a better pure runner than David Montgomery but he’s clearly the lesser all-around back. Similar setup to Jamaal Williams but a better shot at cracking the 100-yard bonus (meaning 100/1 will probably get the job done as opposed to Jamaal where he likely needs multiple scores).
Restrictive chalk. Not really much else to say here other than the Giants will have only four wide receivers active on Sunday: Richie James, David Sills, Kenny Golladay, and Darius Slayton. That could/should lead to additional targets on Saquon’s already lofty route participation rate.
Expansive chalk. I don’t understand this one, to be completely honest. Jacobs has averaged 16.33 running back opportunities per game with only seven targets on the season, on a team averaging only 17.7 rush attempts per game (fewest in the league), against an opponent ranked seventh in the league in power success rate allowed and ninth in the league in stuffed rate.
Neither restrictive nor expansive chalk. Double-digit targets in 15 of his last 19 games (as in, 79% of his last 19 games he’s seen double-digit looks), and 25 of his last 34 (as in, 74% of the games over the last two plus seasons he has seen double-digit targets). The stability and floor are remarkable but the Steelers are struggling to score touchdowns.
Expansive chalk. James should be the theoretical WR1 against the Bears, likely playing 90%+ of the offensive snaps. That said, how many pass attempts are we expecting from a Giants team near league average in pass rate over expectation against a Bears team entrenched in the lowest pass rate over expectation in the league? As in, is there an upside here? Maybe?
Neither restrictive nor expansive chalk. The unquestioned alpha in Houston. Has seen 29 targets through three games but Houston is struggling to score the football, averaging just 16.33 points per game and have scored only four offensive touchdowns. All three of David Mills pass touchdowns have gone to tight ends. NFL teams need to score touchdowns in order for their players to score touchdowns for fantasy rosters/teams.
Neither restrictive nor expansive chalk. More chalk on a team that has scored only four offensive touchdowns through three games. In the absence of having to repeat myself again here, consider this – a target is worth approximately 1.5 fantasy points on average, meaning a touchdown is roughly equivalent to the value of four targets.
Hollins is coming off a career week against the Titans where he put up an 8/158/1 receiving line on 11 targets. I watched the entirety of that game because I was covering it for NBC, and Hollins was left in man coverage for the entirety of the game as the Titans doubled Davante Adams. That single coverage boosted Hollins’ PFF grade vs. man coverage all the way up to 11th in the league. I’ve got news for you – Mack Hollins is not a top 12 wide receiver in the NFL against man coverage. The Denver Broncos have allowed the fewest DraftKings points per game to opposing wide receivers (just 24.2) but have struggled against tight ends in their 3-4 Cover-2 base defense. I personally won’t be chasing here, even with Hunter Renfrow out of the lineup.
Neither restrictive nor expansive chalk. Okay, we’re finally to the range of some chalk that makes sense. I have no issues with the assumption that Hock’s role over the middle of the field is going to grow in the absence of both D’Andre Swift and Amon-Ra St. Brown.