Sunday, Feb 11th — Late
Bye Week:

End Around 4.23

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


In the 2020 season, teams averaged 2.88 touchdowns per game. That touchdown rate continually dipped until last year when NFL teams averaged 2.43 touchdowns per game across the league. This year, that number is down to 2.30 touchdowns per team per game. And yet, last week saw an absolute offensive explosion where seven teams carried Vegas implied team totals approaching, or surpassing, 28 points (four touchdowns). Predictably, the scores needed to win GPPs in Week 3 dwarfed those required during the first two weeks of the season (mid-290s in Week 3 compared to mid-230s in Week 1 and Week 2).

This week, three teams are implied for 26.0 points or higher, while it was seven teams last week. Why is that important? The field has the sweet taste of outlier offensive production in their collective mouths this week, and it is showing through in early ownership projections. People want to jam in the studs that are coming off career performances (Keenan Allen and Davante Adams, to name a couple) and scrape the bottom of the barrel for any possibility of perceived value (more on this below).

Find those game environments and team situations that can harbor elite fantasy output, friends!


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. Keenan Allen is on a torrid stretch over the previous two games in the absence of Austin Ekeler. We’ve seen the career splits with and without Ekeler on the field, but Keenan now gets to play a haphazard Raiders defense that runs tons of zone coverage without both Ekeler and Mike Williams on the field. We spoke last week about how condensed this Chargers pass offense gets with one of the big three missing, and Keenan is now the last man standing. He’s coming off an insane 48.5 fantasy outburst (DK scoring) and he did that without catching a touchdown. He’s in a great spot. That said, there are some interesting angles at play when we talk about leveraging the mega-chalk on a slate like this.


NEITHER RESTRICTIVE CHALK NOR EXPANSIVE CHALK. Kyren Williams has been on the field for all but four offensive snaps over the previous two games for the Rams, which is borderline unheard of in today’s game (it’s actually quite funny that the two backs that are currently seeing a backfield all to themselves are Kyren and Zack Moss – they are also playing each other this week). Williams has seen all but one running back opportunity during the previous two weeks. The workload is all but set in stone at this point but the matchup is a concern. The Colts have allowed opposing backs to average just 3.5 yards per carry this season and currently sit at seventh in the league in rush DVOA. Offsetting those concerns are 17 targets during his recent two-game stretch, alleviating the need for multiple touchdowns to return a GPP-worthy score.


RESTRICTIVE CHALK. Davante Adams is another wide receiver on this slate who is coming off a 20-target game (Keenan Allen). That said, Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a concussion in Week 3 and no player has played the game immediately following a concussion this season, which I am treating as more of a trend than noise (even with a small sample). The league quite simply could be taking a more cautious approach with head injuries after the fallout from Tua Tagovailoa’s incident last season. We likely won’t know the status of Garoppolo until the early games have already kicked off, introducing a level of uncertainty here not present in other spots on the slate. I was honestly shocked to see his ownership where it was, particularly considering his teammate, Jakobi Meyers, is priced $2,500 cheaper on DraftKings and has similar underlying metrics this season.


RESTRICTIVE CHALK. Tony Pollard handily leads the league in carries (62) and red zone opportunities (27) but has scored just two touchdowns through three weeks. The touchdowns are going to regress at some point. His matchup is non-prohibitive against a Patriots team considered a run-funnel behind heavy rates of man coverage and moderate blitz rates. The biggest knock to Pollard’s profile in this spot is his salary on a slate where pricing is much tighter than it has been to start the season. That is likely to make rosters with Pollard look very similar from the sense of salary allocation. In other words, rosters with Pollard will almost certainly also contain Joshua Palmer and/or a salary-saving option at tight end.


EXPANSIVE CHALK. Enter Tony Pollard pairing partner number one. Pat Freiermuth’s 70.2 percent route participation rate ranks 28th amongst tight ends this season and his 12.3 percent targets per route run (TPRR) rate ranks 38th. I mean, I guess, he’s scored two touchdowns, right? I don’t understand the field’s infatuation with a tight end who has run the 23rd most routes this season on an offense that has scored more than 28 points (four touchdowns) just twice during the last calendar year.


EXPANSIVE CHALK. Enter Tony Pollard pairing partner number two. Josh Palmer’s 18.4 TPRR in the 2022 season, a season where Keenan Allen and Mike Williams missed a combined 11 games, was entirely underwhelming, as were his 8.5 aDOT and 1.32 yards per route run (YPRR). The price is right, but his path to a true GPP-worthy ceiling is rather slim.


NEITHER RESTRICTIVE NOR EXPANSIVE CHALK. Now we’re talking. Puka Nacua has seen a target on almost 40 percent of his routes against zone coverage this season, which is absurd. That’s important because the Colts have played zone coverages at the second highest rate in the league this season. I legitimately would not be shocked to see Puka end Week 4 with another 15-20 target game here, game environment permitting. Plus, he’s got great hair, so there’s that.


EXPANSIVE CHALK. I want to hate this play with every ounce of my being, it being a cheap chalk defense, and all. But I can’t, in good conscience, call the Browns a bad on-paper play this week. There will always be reasons to fade chalk defenses, but I will have the Browns D/ST in my player pool this week.



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