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
First off, this is the last End Around of the season. As we look forward to the Super Bowl and the offseason, I wanted to take a moment and express a bit of gratitude to everyone in the OWS fam for the support, engagement, and for just being the most badass group of fantasy degenerates (like myself) that I have ever come across. I will be pushing hard this offseason to continue my journey into Game Theory and putting what I learn into the beautiful game of daily fantasy football (including building a Best Ball offering from the ground up with my guy Mikey). With that, let’s talk some damn football, you softies!
The macro state of this slate can be summarized by simply taking a look at the expected ownership at the D/ST position. The field expects the Eagles and Chiefs to win their respective games (the line in the Bengals/Chiefs game has been absolutely wild to follow this week, opening with KC -1, jumping to CIN -2.5 after more reports surfaced on Patrick Mahomes’ ankle injury early in the week, and then reversing course back to KC -1.5 after Mahomes got in “full practices” all week – more on that later). The field also expects the AFC game to be the higher-scoring and more dynamic environment.
The truth of the matter is that Patrick Mahomes is either not a human or he is going to largely lose his ability to escape the pocket on a high ankle sprain, and the Bengals will be without two starting offensive linemen for their game this weekend. That leaves their game environment with a much wider range of outcomes when compared to the NFC game, yet the field isn’t treating it as such. Well-timed sacks can disrupt entire drives, which is a viable outcome for these teams in this spot.
The relative problem is that the clear spots for fantasy production to flow from the other game are being accounted for by the field (Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, A.J. Brown, and DeVonta Smith), which introduces an interesting aspect to this slate. From a small field perspective, the optimal theory would dictate to then take the more certain points from the aforementioned four players from the SF-PHI game and look to the game with a wider range of outcomes to fill in the gaps, which would look like the secondary players from the Chiefs and Bengals offenses.
In large field – we need close to optimal, if not optimal, in order to win this week.
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.
Just like last week, we’re not going to spend time identifying chalky plays – the good plays are going to be owned on a small two-game slate.