Mark “Hilow” Garcia
This slate sets up as one of those funny weeks where people are going to feel really good about their lineups until five minutes after lock. We have a few clear places where chalk is likely to develop, but a large majority of the field is not going to recognize how to build in a way that differentiates their lineups from the rest. Team stacks and unconventional player blocks gain a bit of value and leverage in a week like this, where floor is a little harder to identify.
As we uncovered in the Edge write-up, Dalvin is in the best spot he’s been in over the last four “Dalvin chalk” weeks. Not only that but as we discussed above, floor is going to be more difficult to uncover this week for the majority of the field. Even as the highest-priced player on the slate, the floor he brings in a week filled with uncertainty is hard to argue against.
(GOOD CHALK, but we’re going to need to play him smartly to leverage the field… covered below!)
Quick backstory here. I labored all week with Dalvin chalk and not clearly identifying where the leverage would be. Then, mid-Friday, Todd Gurley was ruled out and reports started surfacing that Adam Thielen was unlikely to play. Bingo (I’ll save the leverage for the actual leverage section, but once Gurley was ruled out, we had our obvious running back pairing for Dalvin Cook in Brian Hill). Thinking about this spot clearly for Hill, what we should expect is a floor of 14-16 running back opportunities with moderate-to-high red zone usage (similar to Gurley all season to this point). Really the only (or biggest) hit to Hill’s fantasy prospectus is his likely inclusion in the chalk build.
(GOOD CHALK, particularly when considering the touchdown equity that comes with the “Falcons running back” role)
I have a hard time believing the top two wide receiver ownership percentages don’t come from this game, as Keenan Allen and Stefon Diggs have so much positive recency bias associated with their names, and both play in arguably the top overall game environment on the slate. I’d expect each wide receiver to approach 20% ownership as we approach lock, with each quarterback (Josh Allen and Justin Herbert) both seeing 15%+ ownership as well. Not that any of them are poor plays in a vacuum, but both wide receivers rely so heavily on volume that it would be shocking to me if one or both were included in the optimal lineup when all is said and done considering their elevated price tags. We’ll discuss one way to leverage the field down below, but there are many different ways to attack this game (naked quarterback from either side, as each carries solid red zone rush involvement, as another example).
(Neither GOOD CHALK or BAD CHALK with clear leverage angles)
Another low aDOT pass-catcher that derives majority of his value from volume. A good deal of the Waller lineups this weekend will be dead money (similar to a few weeks ago when we had chalk James Robinson), in that there are many possible game flows that do not lend themselves to an increase in volume for Waller that will not be taken into account by the field. For Waller to see increased volume, the Falcons need to either be playing with a lead or it needs to be a back and forth game, for which the optimal ways to play Waller would be either paired with Brian Hill (the likeliest pairing from a combined ownership standpoint, but the most unlikely game flow) or to play Waller with Calvin Ridley (which I guarantee will carry minuscule combined ownership).
(BAD CHALK if played incorrectly)
Again from my course, and this might be the light bulb that comes on for readers who haven’t read my full course yet:
“Leveraging Game Theory doctrine, we’re searching for ways to differentiate ourselves without sacrificing high-probability plays. So what does this look like while we’re actually filling out a roster? Say we’ve sunk a large portion of our salary into the running back position (again, something we should only be doing if we’ve previous uncovered value plays with high a floor/ceiling combination at other positions), which on any given week could approach 30-35% of overall salary for two roster spots (two of nine roster spots, or 22%). We’re assuming we’ve found value at other positions, but the value we uncover should not simply be cheap plays with high ceilings.”
This is the perfect quote for this week (and quietly highlights why I had Dalvin Cook labeled the way I did over the previous three weeks, weeks where it was much harder to gain a viable floor with the pay-down options available on each slate). There are more than a handful of pay-down options that carry viable floors this week (as I’m sure JM will cover (or has covered) in the bottom up build), giving us more flexibility to build with both floor and ceiling in mind.
The chalk build this week is sure to have both Dalvin Cook and Brian Hill at running back, and is likely to also have members from the Chargers/Bills game. Because of the value available, we’re likely to see pay-up tight ends in a solid portion of lineups as well. It gets a little more tricky to identify the places to go for leverage on a slate that offers little in the way of “hidden gems,” but using what we’ve learned about Game Theory, there are still ways to leverage the field!
I hinted at the unconventional player block above, an example of which is Dalvin plus Justin Jefferson. When you get a player missing a game in an offense as concentrated as the Vikings are to begin with, what you typically see is even more emphasis on the remaining stud playmakers. Then when you consider the soft matchup against the Panthers, we start feeling pretty good about locking in the expected volume and fantasy points that should flow through these two players.
Yes, the Bucs are one of the top defensive units in the league, but they remain a pass-funnel unit, one that will be without some speed in the secondary (Jamel Dean and his 4.30 speed will be held out with a concussion and remaining starting corner Carlton Davis runs a 4.53 40; Dean has played the second most snaps of Tampa Bay corners over the last four weeks) and one whose linebackers and slot corners have allowed over a 100 QBR in coverage on the season. The individual matchups for Tyreek Hill (with Carlton Davis and Sean Murphy-Bunting, who has allowed 10.6 yards per attempt in coverage) and Travis Kelce are sneaky good here, and the field is likely to not pay up for any of Mahomes, Hill or Kelce in a matchup with Tampa Bay. Playing all three together (especially at their respective prices considering Dalvin Cook is priced up to $9,500) is a high floor, high ceiling team block in a week void of certainty.
Bonus thought: the three person chiefs stack is likely to come in under .5% owned in large field GPPs, and a three person chiefs stack with Dalvin Cook is likely to be under .1% owned; thusly, we needn’t concern ourselves with the likely ownership on Dalvin + Hill and can pair them together in lineups with the three person Chiefs stack to take advantage of the high floor of the two running backs paired together!
We know Brian Hill is going to garner ownership. We also expect the Raiders to put up points in this game, likely forcing the Falcons to remain aggressive with the ball. Julio Jones is currently expected to be a true game time decision, and if he misses, pass volume is likely to flow through Calvin Ridley against a secondary allowing the third highest QBR against on the year (and 11.3 yards per completion allowed, sixth most in the league!).
This is one of those “please play” moments. The perceived nut game environment this week is the Chargers/Bills game (and honestly, I like that game environment a lot!), but the ownership is likely to be focused on both pass games. Add in the uncertainty surrounding his expected workload in his first game back from an extended absence (hopefully!), plus what is surely to be his lowest salary for the remainder of the year, and we get an extremely high leverage spot for a “solid in a vacuum” play. Bonus thought: I’m of the mind that if he’s active, he’s unlikely to see a touch limitation… the Chargers medical team does not need any more negative press than what they’ve already taken this year after the Tyrod Taylor fiasco.
We expect the Giants to control this game on defense, leading to a better chance than a standard New York Giants game that they are able to tilt more towards the run. Gallman should remain the primary ball-carrier with an established red zone role. Priced at $5,000, you’re considering him as a floor play to either pair with Dalvin/Hill, or you’re saying he outscores Hill in a point per dollar sense.
With Keelan Cole and Gabriel Davis expected to garner the most ownership of these low-priced wide receivers, both Viska and Isabella offer solid “pivots” (I don’t like to talk about pivots much in this piece, but I felt these two deserved mention here this week). For Laviska, not only does he offer true leverage off James Robinson and Keelan Cole, how he’s already being used in this offense more naturally lines up with Mike Glennon’s strengths (?). Glennon brings a shallow 6.2 career average yards per attempt and Laviska’s 2020 aDOT sits at a shallow 5.5. We expect the Jags to be in catch-up mode and we know Viska has been seeing schemed looks (and rushes) in an attempt to get the ball into his hands and allow his natural play-making ability to do the rest. He’s a solid-in-a-vacuum play that also carries solid leverage in addition to being a solid pivot. With Isabella, we know Bill Belichick will attempt to take away the biggest threat from the opposing offense, which for the Cardinals, most definitely is DeAndre Hopkins. We also have Larry Fitzgerald on the Covid list (who plays almost 100% slot for this offense) and Isabella is the most natural fit to step into those snaps (76.9% of his snaps have come from the slot in 2020). The Patriots have struggled with the deep ball all season, allowing the deepest average yards per attempt in the league at 8.4 and Andy Isaballe’ parlays 4.31 speed into an unreal 14.3 aDOT.
You can catch Hilow (and Sonic, and Xandamere, and JM) on the OWS Discord server…
You can get inside Hilow’s DFS mind here.
You can also grab the first five lessons of Hilow’s Game Theory course for FREE.
You can listen to Hilow and Lex on Run To Daylight (hosted by TodFromPA || presented by OWS!), live at 8 PM Eastern this Saturday. (Note: the podcast runs live, but it will be archived shortly after it finishes.)
We’re looking for the best game theory // leverage angles on the slate! Drop your thoughts below, and let’s see where we end up!!!
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