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 field seems completely lost this week. The two teams with Vegas implied team totals north of four touchdowns both have spreads of 10 points or more. Then we have an Eagles team that nobody wants to play because it’s difficult to narrow down where the production will go. Then we have seven games in the “magic range” of game totals where not even Vegas knows how they will play out (the magic range of 43.0-47.0 points historically carries a wide range of potential outcomes as far as total points go – see Miami at Baltimore in Week 2). There’s very little certainty this week and the field seems to be hunting for it in all the wrong places, which means we should absolutely love this slate (and I do!). It also means we can generate a solid amount of leverage simply by staying true to the basics, which I will highlight further in the Exploitative Leverage section.
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. Averaging over 30 DraftKings points per game through four weeks. Likely needs to be pushed to truly put the slate out of reach (as in, score 40+ fantasy points).
Expansive chalk. The Panthers are allowing just 22.1 fantasy points per game to opposing backfields, this game checks in with the lowest game total on the slate at just 39.5, and the path to 22+ running back opportunities is low considering the continued usage of Deebo Samuel in the running game. The net-adjusted line yards matchup yields just a 4.27 value. Consider it a neutral-at-best matchup in a slow, grind-it-out environment.
Neither restrictive now expansive chalk. People are literally willing Fournette to return to form through continued ownership expectations this season. Tampa’s offensive line is blocking to a putrid 3.91 adjusted line yards and 3.45 running back yards per carry. Fournette has a gross 3.7 true yards per carry (48th in the league) and paltry 4.4 yards per touch (38th in the league).
Neither restrictive nor expansive chalk. The last time Kamara scored multiple touchdowns was on Christmas day in the year 2020 (to be fair, he put up six touchdowns that game lolz). The price is borderline disrespectful, but we are likely to have multiple 30+ fantasy point games this week based on how this slate shapes up, and I loosely doubt Kamara’s path to that kind of upside after missing two of the last three games with painful fractured rib cartilage.
Expansive chalk. Geno Smith has five career games of 300 pass yards or more. Two of those games have come in the previous two weeks. He has been in the league since Nam (okay, since 2013). While Lockett’s 30 targets over the previous three games look nice in the box scores, his moderate 26.4% team target market share means a lot has to go right for him to provide a GPP-worthy score here, particularly considering the Seahawks average 61.25 offensive plays per game and 33.3 pass attempts per game on a 61% pass play rate. Seattle was able to run 71 and 70 offensive plays the past two games against the Lions and Falcons. In their first two games against the 49ers and Broncos, they averaged only 52 offensive plays per game. Things are not adding up for me here.
Expansive chalk. Okay, I can get behind this one. Chris Olave leads the league in total air yards (679) and deep targets (15) through four weeks. I expected the change to Andy Dalton to fundamentally influence how the offense was being run, but his 11.1 average intended air yards last week feel right in line with how the offense was being run under Jameis Winston (11.4 average intended air yards). The price has yet to match the upside for the dynamic rookie.
Expansive chalk. Matthew Stafford actually ranks second in the league in PFF grade when under pressure this year, behind only Patrick Mahomes. But what the field assumes is that this is primarily due to Higbee (hint: it isn’t, it’s primarily due to some dude named Cooper Kupp). Higbee’s targets (first), target share (second), and route participation (fifth) rank amongst the elites at the position, but his nominal 4.1 aDOT ranks 30th in the league, and his modest 6.4 yards per target ranks 24th in the league. Perfectly fine floor option this week, but I doubt his ceiling with those underlying metrics. Oodles of leverage potential to go elsewhere.
Expansive chalk. Of chalky defenses this year, the Cowboys are probably the best so far. That isn’t necessarily a ringing endorsement, but they should generate significant pressure on Stafford this week and we know the mistakes Stafford can make when under pressure.