Sunday, Feb 11th — Late
Bye Week:

End Around 7.23

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


This slate is fun and exciting because it has every feel of a slate that the field is likely to get significantly tripped up with. Beyond the low game totals and poor expected game environments, we’re seeing some highly questionable chalk developing as people seem to be looking toward fragile situations for perceived certainty. Not that I expect the chalk on the slate to fully fail, just that there are far more paths to failure for a lot of the chalk pieces than the field seems to realize.

We also have a bright and shiny game environment with a game total that far surpasses any other game that is likely to draw significant interest – which, as you guessed it, has more paths to failure than the field seems to realize. Add it all up, and this slate becomes more labyrinth than puzzle, with wrong turns and set traps strewn throughout. 


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. As you’ll quickly see, Walker is yet another chalk back on this slate who is either a yardage-and-touchdown back or has some other serious contributor to fragility. The role and matchup are pristine (26 red zone opportunities including seven goal line carries, 70.1 percent opportunity share, backup Zach Charbonnet appears on the worse side of questionable after not practicing all week, Cardinals surrendering 1.50 yards before contact per carry), but that doesn’t change the fact that Walker doesn’t carry enough pass volume to offset the need for 100 yards on the ground and multiple scores to reach a GPP-worthy ceiling. That is very much within his range of outcomes here, all things considered, but there is always merit to thinking twice about a yardage and touchdown back with a 4.2 yards per carry mark and a 20.5 percent stuffed run rate (Walker is a “ones and zeros” runner, capable of ripping off chunk gains but also struggling with consistent vision).


RESTRICTIVE CHALK. We’ll continue having the same discussion every week on Jacobs, it seems. The volume and role are great. The pass game usage is great. The efficiency is borderline laughable at this point, boasting a robust 2.9 yards per carry (63rd? lolz), 3.9 yards per touch (38th), 1.9 percent breakaway run rate (yeah, it gets that low), and a 25.2 percent stuffed run rate (for comparison, everyone’s favorite punching bear, Najee Harris, has a 25.4 percent stuffed run rate). The matchup has some serious recency bias associated with it as it yields the third worst net yards before contact value on the slate (behind only the Patriots and Buccaneers), yet the field seems to think the Bears are atrocious against the run still. The saving grace here is Jacobs has legitimate double digit target upside in this spot, although even the chances of that happening take a hit with veteran quarterback Brian Hoyer expected to draw the start this week.


NEITHER RESTRICTIVE NOR EXPANSIVE CHALK. Pacheco has been held to 18 running back opportunities or less in four of six games, with the two outlier games coming against the Jets in his hometown (20 carries and three targets) and against the hapless Broncos (16 carries and six targets). He has been held to four or fewer targets in four of six games with a season-high of six last week against the Broncos. That said, the matchup generates the highest net yards before contact and Pacheco has increased his utilization in the red zone this season, seeing 22 red zone touches including four goal line carries through six games. We must play running backs, and Pacheco is a running back . . . kidding y’all. Pacheco projects as one of the better point-per-dollar plays on the slate so it’s not all doom and gloom, I simply want to highlight the fact that he is probably more fragile than his expected ownership would indicate.


RESTRICTIVE CHALK. Yes. End of analysis.


RESTRICTIVE CHALK. Volume – good. Talent – good. Matchup – yikes city, population Keenan. Keenan has a locked-in, volume-induced floor in this spot due to expected game environment, projected volume, and talent, but he is going to need to surpass 100 yards receiving and find paint multiple times to pay off his lofty price tag. Also, how quickly the field is to forget (or completely neglect?) Keenan’s splits with running back Austin Ekeler on and off the field during the previous three seasons. Spoiler alert – they aren’t pretty. But he’s the top wide receiver in the game with the highest game total, so we must play him . . . right? RIGHT? The price is wrong, Bob. The funniest part is Keenan is priced right between two wide receivers that are in much better matchups with greater chances of seeing 15+ targets in Stefon Diggs and Davante Adams (and also have much higher touchdown equity).


NEITHER RESTRICTIVE NOR EXPANSIVE CHALK. I get it, the rookie is likely to see his highest snap rate and opportunity share of his short career. That’s the good. The bad is a matchup that generates a net yards before contact of just 1.28 yards, which is about the same as the Saints versus the Jaguars yielded on Thursday Night Football. Gibbs also somewhat quietly has 10 stuffed runs on just 39 carries, good for (bad for?) a 25.6 percent stuffed run rate (30th in the league). The Ravens have held opposing backs to 4.0 yards per carry and have ceded just one rushing score through six games. Gibbs likely brings enough receiving usage to offset the need for multiple touchdowns in this spot, but he remains highly unlikely to surpass 100 yards on the ground, leaving behind a rather shaky ceiling.


EXPANSIVE CHALK. A rookie tight end that has seen more than four targets just twice through six weeks, and those six weeks were played without the team’s top two options on the field together due to injury, and those players are now healthy. Yeah, checks out . . . the field is truly reaching for any semblance of value.


NEITHER RESTRICTIVE NOR EXPANSIVE CHALK. The rookie wide receiver has double digit looks in half of his games this season, all while his team averages the third fewest pass attempts per game through six weeks. Per PFF, Flowers leads Baltimore receivers in fantasy points per route run (0.45) and receiving grade (77.4) against zone coverage this season, of which the Lions are in at an above average 77.3 percent clip. But a lot of that is due to his presence on the field at a rate much higher than anyone else on the team. His moderate 22.8 percent targets per route run rate against zone coverage helps tell the full story here. Flowers is highly likely to see eight to 10 targets in this spot but I am slightly hesitant to extrapolate an elite cost-considered ceiling on his small sample size – not to mention the matchup is less than ideal and the primary target earner against zone coverage in this offense remains tight end Mark Andrews, who might be the most mispriced player on the entire slate (they are the same price at $5,700).



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