Mark “Hilow” Garcia
Another interesting slate when viewed through the lens of Game Theory, as we have but one player currently projected for more than 25% ownership (Derrick Henry). Like we have covered in the past, the fallback on weeks such as this one is to rely more heavily on sounds DFS theory (finding the best mix of floor and ceiling for your roster as a whole in SE/3-Max and ensuring you have sound correlation in MME). That said, there still exists clear areas for us to leverage the field, which we will cover below!
Highest ceiling on the slate amongst running backs, moderate to low cost-considered floor if the touchdowns are not there. At $9,500, King Henry has to provide 150 yards and two touchdowns (well within his expected range of outcomes) to return 30 points, a score that would be “good but not required” at his price and expected ownership. Now, he can absolutely go for 200/3 in this spot, so the ceiling is immense, but I’ll likely take a “non-standard for Hilow” approach of being even the field on a chalky yardage and touchdown back this week.
(neither GOOD CHALK or BAD CHALK, which is weird coming from me on a chalky yardage and touchdown back, but understand the risks here)
Two running backs who have seen their prices skyrocket from recent production. Both are primarily yardage and touchdown backs and both play on teams that have primarily utilized three running backs all season (Akers’ situation has appeared to change in that regard while Taylor’s has not). Taylor has the matchup in his favor, while the snap rate is uncertain; Akers has a difficult matchup but a more locked-in snap rate. Either way, there are more question marks surrounding both than the public will give credence to, particularly at inflated prices (ie the floor on each is lower than public perception). These are the types of players we historically want to play at low ownership and be underweight on or fade at high ownership.
(BAD CHALK when considering price, ownership, and situation)
A week after being a healthy inactive (reportedly for dropped passes and missed blocking assignments), people are ready to anoint Fournette as the lead back, eh? Let’s just say I have my doubts on the level of involvement to expect here. The majority of the expected value for Fournette comes from his pass game involvement, which I’d expect to go to LeSean McCoy this week. On the season, the Buccaneers have a lofty 63% situation-neutral pass play rate (which, for comparison, is the same rate of the Steelers), and if Fournette is not seeing the pass game usage many expect here, his floor is going to be scary low against a Falcons team ceding the sixth lowest adjusted line yards at 3.92.
(BAD CHALK for a scary low floor)
I’m honestly not sure where Aiyuk’s ownership will settle this week, but I currently get the feeling it won’t be as high as it should be. Either way, Aiyuk is likely to be amongst the top ten or so wide receivers in ownership on a slate that is likely to see wide receiver ownership rather spread out. When considering the overall game environment for the Niners compared to both Aiyuk’s situation (primary offensive weapon on an offense designed to get playmakers in space, against the Cowboys) and his expected ownership, we get one of the top in a vacuum wide receivers on the slate.
(GOOD CHALK for his tangible floor and one of the highest wide receiver ceilings on the slate)
Chalk build this week consists of Derrick Henry and Leonard Fournette at running back and a cheap tight end. Wide receiver and quarterback are both expected to be rather spread from an ownership perspective, so we should focus on sound DFS theory at each position (looking for the best combination of floor and ceiling for my SE/3-Max crowd and relying on correlation in MME).
For our teaching moment this week, I want to play a game (go back and re-read that in the Saw voice to set the stage). Open up Draftkings with a clean roster and skip down to the wide receiver position. Everyone (okay, not everyone, but a good chunk of the field) is going to start their lineup building process at the running back position this week, but we’ve already uncovered that behind Derrick Henry, we’re likely to not see a big difference in ownership numbers amongst the remaining running backs, which creates a high leverage scenario if we instead focus on other positions first. At wide receiver, scroll all the way down to the minimum price players and work your way up until you come across the three players you’d feel comfortable with from a floor and ceiling perspective. Now fill in the rest of the roster and see what you come up with. Where can you reallocate salary at the wide receiver position to increase your ceiling? What running backs made that roster? Did this allow you to see something on this slate that you previously missed? By forcing ourselves to look at the slate from a different perspective than the field will likely be using, we may be able to find something that our opponents will be missing.
Something I feel has gotten lost in the shuffle over the past couple of weeks is what the shift back to Mitchell Trubisky for the Bears means for their overall game environments. When you move from a comparatively conservative Nick Foles to a historically risk-taking Trubisky, it raises the chances for positive fantasy game environments to develop, either through splash plays from the Bears or through offensive mistakes that lead to quick points for the opposition.
I talked in-depth about the importance of this game for both teams in the Edge writeup, which again raises the chances of the game environment evolving into an aggressive back and forth affair as the game plays out. With muted projected ownership on players from each pass game, we get a situation where we can capture immense upside through a game with higher-than-perception chance at positive game environment at lower-than-should-be ownership. All of Adam Thielen, Justin Jefferson, Irv Smith, Allen Robinson, and even Darnell Mooney are solid-in-a-vacuum plays as one-offs, but combined ownership from this game is sure to be extremely low. Mitchell Trubisky can be added to the aforementioned list as a viable upside piece this weekend.
This game is less a leverage spot for pure ownership than it is for how the players are likely to be used in lineups. What I mean by that is this: the Chiefs are likely to be under-owned relative to their chances at one of the top raw scores at their respective positions, while Saints ownership is likely to be concentrated on their wide receivers when the best way to attack the Chiefs’ defense is over the middle of the field with passes to running backs out of the backfield and to tight ends. The top play for me from this game is Alvin Kamara. We discussed his fantasy prospectus in depth earlier this season, and how he derives majority of his ceiling through his involvement in the pass game (which had dried up with Taysom Hill at quarterback). We have the optimal scenario developing with respect to potential Alvin Kamara ceiling, where Drew Brees starts and Michael Thomas misses, in a game the Saints are likely to be playing from behind. Now consider the matchup against the Chiefs and the lower-than-should-be expected ownership, and we get one of the highest leverage pieces on the slate (side note: a great way to leverage the chalk build is to play Kamara with Derrick Henry, which provides immense ceiling at low combined ownership!). The same can theoretically be said for tight end Jared Cook, whose talent + opportunity (matchup + situation) + cost will not match his ownership this weekend.
Another shift in situation that is likely to go under-owned, Terry McLaurin is now running routes with Dwayne Haskins under center against a Seahawks team allowing the most fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers (yes, they have played much better of late, but remain a positive matchup for opposing pass games). F1 had his most consistently productive stretch of the season with Haskin starting over the first four weeks, commanding a 26.7% team target market share, which he parlayed into a solid 14.88 yards per reception on a 66.67% catch rate. Although not a massive difference, Haskins’ 6.4 average intended air yards per pass attempt is a solid boost from Alex Smith’s 5.4, raising the ceiling for McLaurin. McLaurin’s chances at one of the top wide receiver scores on the slate will not be accurately reflected by his ownership this weekend, a situation we should be looking to capitalize on!
Question marks abound for these two, but if Ahmed plays and if Chase Edmonds misses, we’re likely to get two of the top five running backs in expected running back opportunities this week at a steep discount. Add in how each team is likeliest to attack in their respective games compared to expected ownership (and expected ownership on Leonard Fournette), and the leverage jumps off the page for both.
A defense making the leverage spots? WTH Hilow? Hear me out. Similar to last week, where game environment and situation led me to 100% Cardinals defense against a quarterback whose mobility was limited due to injury (Cardinals ended up tying for the highest raw point total on the slate), we’re likely to get a defense in the Bucs whose chances at a top overall defensive score will not match their ownership this week. The Falcons average only 17 points per game with one of Julio Jones or Calvin Ridley out of the lineup, and Matt Ryan’s completion rate and yards per game take a massive hit as well. Now consider the matchup with a Buccaneers defense facing the highest pass rate in the league and we get a heightened opportunity for offensive mistakes to be made from the Falcons. Oh yea, and the Bucs D are also 66% cheaper than the Rams.
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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