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 we’ve covered around the site this week (and on various podcasts and videocasts) this slate opened with nine of 11 games with a game total of 45.5 or fewer, and two games on an island with game totals above 50.0 points. That hasn’t drastically changed throughout the week, leaving us in a situation where the field is likely to primarily pay attention to only two game environments. I’ve got news for you, one or two of the nine games with game totals in the sub-45.5 bucket are likely to pop off here. Also, the field doesn’t seem to be attacking the two high total games in the most +EV way.
Furthering that assertion is the plethora of value options now available at the running back position, as there are no less than five backup running backs stepping into either featured or lead roles. That said, not all those options are created equal for us this week, so getting those spots right gains a bit of importance. I’ll spend a bit of extra time in the next section dissecting those plays.
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. Allen is averaging 32.1 fantasy points per game and has scored more than 30 DraftKings points in four of five games. He has thrown for 300+ yards in three of five and scored multiple touchdowns through the air in four of five, adding 40+ yards rushing in four of five and two scores on the ground. There is nothing left to say about this man.
Expansive chalk. Eno Benjamin is not explosive. He is not an amazing real-world NFL running back. That said, the Cardinals average 26.8 rush attempts per game, Benjamin has exactly four targets in every game he has played more than 14% of the offensive snaps, and Keaontay Ingram, a sixth-round rookie running back that has yet to be active this year, will be his only competition for touches this week. If Benjamin sees 80% of the yearly backfield usage for the Cardinals, he’s looking at a floor of 21 carries and 6 targets (41 running back targets through five games). All of that for a price of only $4,600 against the team allowing the second most DK points per game to opposing backfields (32.2) and second most points per game (30.8). Seattle has allowed 4.96 running back yards per carry on the season.
Neither restrictive nor expansive chalk. The Patriots average 29.8 carries per game and are playing the team ranked 32nd in run DVOA, ceding 5.32 adjusted line yards on defense and 5.94 running back yards per carry to opposing backfields. Stevenson has averaged 5.5 yards per carry and should see the bulk of the work in New England’s backfield with only rookie Pierre Strong as backfield competition with Ty Montgomery still on IR and Damien Harris expected to miss multiple weeks with a hamstring injury.
Expansive chalk. Should be the unquestioned lead back for a Seattle team averaging only 22.0 rush attempts per game through five weeks. The Cardinals rank 12th in run DVOA, third in power success rate allowed, and sixth in stuffed rate, allowing 4.49 running back yards per carry. As you can probably tell by the tone, the situation is much worse for Walker than for the previous two backs.
Expansive chalk. Henderson will now get the bulk of the opportunities for the Rams after Cam Akers was ruled out for personal and/or team reasons. The Rams average the least rush attempts per game at 19.4 and have fed their backs only 20 targets all season (four per game). Their opponent, the Panthers, allows 4.81 running back yards per carry and 27.6 DK points per game to opposing backfields. Again, the situation is much worse for Henderson than the first two backs mentioned.
Expansive chalk. The Cardinals have locked down opposing WR1s all season, meaning the field is likely to view Lockett as being in a blow-up spot with DK Metcalf likely to see Byron-Murphy-plus coverage. That said, the Cardinals allow only 30.6 total fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers and Lockett has seen double-digit targets only twice all season, scoring only two times along the way (both touchdowns came last week). Lockett has not suddenly become a volume wide receiver, meaning we should be looking to attack him at low ownership and look elsewhere at high ownership (his ownership this week is expected to be the highest of any wide receiver of any week this season).
Expansive chalk. Moore returned to the lineup in Week 4, immediately stepping into a near every down role (85% and 91% snap rates over the previous two weeks). That said, Antman has a stunningly low 20.0% targets per route run rate and a putrid 5.6 aDOT (hey, at least it’s in front of the line of scrimmage). He’s going to need to break a long one or score multiple times to provide a GPP-worthy score here.
Restrictive chalk. Diggs’ team target market share ranks 17th in the league (26.7%) and his route participation rate is hilariously low for an alpha wide receiver (81.6%, 52nd in the league). His unreal 36.7% red zone target rate makes up for a lot of that, but he’s going to need the crack the 100-yard bonus and score multiple times to return a viable score on his current salary. While that is within his range of outcomes, it’s closer to an 80%+ outcome than the field believes.
Expansive chalk. The double-digit targets in three of five games are nice, but the 4.0 aDOT is not-so-nice. He has exactly one deep target on the season. His solid 20.8% red zone target rate means he likely has positive touchdown regression coming at some point, keeping him on the fringe for me this week.