Hilow is a game theory expert and tournament champion who focuses on mid/high-stakes single-entry/three-entry max
I almost get tired of saying this (just kidding, I love this stuff!) and you are probably tired of hearing me say this, but this is a super interesting and super unique slate (I know, I know, they all are!). The bigger aspect of this slate that I think will go missed by the masses is the high level of certainty the field seems to have in certain spots. Consider how much the simple act of a multi-touchdown game from Tyler Higbee or Van Jefferson would absolutely wreck the field this week (and all their certainty associated with that offense – we’ll cover this more below). Or, consider the field’s level of confidence in Josh Allen when they are seemingly paying little to no attention to the pass-catchers from Buffalo. Or, consider the field’s level of confidence in a $2,100 defense. Or, the field’s level of confidence in Dan Arnold. See where I’m going here? There is a much lower level of certainty than the field is giving credit for here, and we’re here to take advantage! Because there exists a high level of perceived certainty this week. We’ll cover some of the chalk pieces a little more in-depth than we normally would below.
Restrictive chalk. This is the first week in a while where we have two quarterbacks projected for more than 15% ownership. I wrote a blurb in the Oracle about the naked Hurts/D’Andre Swift pairing being a situation that could generate solid leverage, and that appears likely to be the case. The combinatorial expected ownership of Kenneth Gainwell, DeVonta Smith, and Dallas Goedert is currently expected to be around 38-40% so we can expect the majority of the Hurts rosters to utilize a stacking partner.
Restrictive chalk. A quarterback in a soft matchup, on a team that doesn’t run the football frequently or very well, on the team tied for the highest Vegas implied team total. It makes sense that people are drawn to Allen this week. That said, Allen carries a little more risk than the field is likely to give credit for, as there exists a very real possibility that Allen would have to do his damage in three-quarters worth of play. Just something to consider here.
Neither restrictive nor expansive chalk. The running back on the other team tied for the highest Vegas implied team total against the team ranked 31st in DVOA against the run. Again, makes sense. That said, would it surprise you to hear that Hendy has landed outside 16-19 running back opportunities in only one game this season (24 against the Giants in Week 6)? Now consider the opponent: a Houston team that allows only 63.6 plays per game to their opponents (19th in the league) because of their extreme pace-down and run-heavy approach, regardless of game script. Can Hendy “get there” on sub-20 running back opportunities? Sure he can, but he’s going to have to be the one doing the scoring. That is a high-variance situation for the player expected to garner the highest ownership on the slate at around 30%. I don’t think I will personally have any. If he rushes for multiple scores for the first time this season and hits the rushing bonus for the first time this season in the same game, I’ll just lose.
Restrictive chalk. This is the chalk piece that makes the most sense to me this week. JM covered Swift’s profile and fantasy expectation in-depth in the Tuesday training session, so I won’t regurgitate that here. What I will say is this: if we were still doing “good chalk vs. bad chalk,” Swift would be the most likely to land in the “good chalk” realm for me this week.
Neither restrictive nor expansive chalk. Joe Burrow’s pass attempt numbers in inverse-chronological order: 38, 29, 38, 32, 18, 30, 27. Cincinnati’s situation-neutral pass rate from the first three games compared to the previous four games: 51% to 58%. Yes, the offense is opening up some as Burrow has proven his health, but this is not suddenly an extremely pass-heavy team. In a game in which we expect the Bengals to handle with ease, Burrow’s likeliest range of outcomes as far as pass attempts go is 28-32. Tee Higgins is coming off an absurd 15-target game last week (which is why he is drawing all this attention) but has seen target totals of 15, six, seven, 10, and five on the season. Six to eight targets are the likeliest range of outcomes this week considering likely game flow and offensive approach from the Bengals. I’m not in the business of playing the wide receiver (remember, high variance position) expected to garner the highest ownership at the position when that player is projected for only six to eight targets.
Restrictive chalk. Marshon Lattimore vs. Mike Evans. Got it. We’ll cover this situation a little more in the leverage section.
Restrictive chalk. The WR1 on the team tied for the highest Vegas implied team total that is putting up historical numbers at the position. Again, makes sense. But what we need to understand is how different the game environment will be for the Rams this week when compared to last week.
I loved JM’s take on Arnold this week . . . until I looked at expected ownership. The top three tight ends in expected ownership this week: Dan Arnold at $2,800, Jared Cook at $3,400, and Ricky Seals-Jones at $3,800.
Expansive chalk. Week 8’s cheapie, pay-down option at the defense position. Three or fewer sacks in all but one game, multiple turnovers in only three of seven games, only two of seven games allowing fewer than 29 points this season, against a quarterback who has turned the ball over in only three of his seven games. Doesn’t sound like a profile to get overly excited about, right?
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