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, there is a shockingly straightforward way the field seems to be expected to be putting rosters together this weekend, with a clear chalk build developing through expected ownership numbers. Next, the field seems completely lost (or maybe the expected ownership algorithms are just completely lost) in how to handle the Mike Williams situation, who is labeled as a true game-time decision after picking up an injury while being foolishly played in Week 18 by Chargers coach Brandon Staley (#fakesharp). Consider these two micro-level decision points to be the two primary decision points on the slate, and we’ll go further in depth on each of these situations below.
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.
Quick side note: The ownership threshold to make this section moves up to 40% (from 20% on a full slate) with there being only two games on the Saturday slate!
CMC against a defense that is stout versus opposing wide receivers, on a run-balanced team, in a game where the 49ers are listed as 9.5-point favorites, against an opponent ranked towards the bottom of the league in DVOA against the run – yea, checks out.
Fifth most breakaway runs this season against a Chargers defense allowing one of the highest explosive run rates in the league – priced down to $6,000. Checks out.
The team is potentially without one of its top pass-catching options (Mike Williams). Ekeler led the league in targets at the running back position and the Jaguars ceded the most targets to opposing running backs this season. Checks out.
The 49ers surrendered the fewest rush yards and only seven total touchdowns to opposing backfields this season, en route to allowing the fewest fantasy points per game to running backs. Kenneth Walker had just three games with more than a modest three targets this season. If you could explain this one to me like I’m five, that would be great.
The perceived value on this slate is almost entirely residing with the Jacksonville pass-catchers, as you will see all of Zay Jones, Christian Kirk, and Evan Engram on this list of chalk pieces. The Chargers held the league’s highest early-down blitz rate over the second half of the season yet still managed a below average 19.8% pressure rate. They were forced to play elevated rates of man coverage because of the elevated blitz rates. Christian Kirk was, by far, the most effective Jacksonville pass-catcher against man coverages this season, seeing over 33% of his total targets against the primary coverage scheme. The lowest target rate against man coverage of the three was Evan Engram at 22.7%. Finally, Zay Jones was far more effective against zone coverages, seeing more than 64% of his targets and scoring four of his five touchdowns against zone this season.
Keenan is almost a lock to see double-digit looks should Mike Williams miss this contest, the latter of whom has been designated a true game-time decision. Jacksonville utilized above average zone coverage rates this season and Keenan had an absolutely ridiculous 91% catch rate on targets against zone this season.
The top option at defense for the Saturday-only slate.