Examining how you handled the chalk is essential to analyzing previous play. That said, it is arguably more important to scrutinize how the field dealt with the chalk because the information gained can be added to your decision-making process.
Suppose the field is making considerable mistakes in processing ownership percentages and in how the chalk interacts with other pieces on a slate. In that case, I can confidently alter course and leverage those inefficiencies in our favor.
I will break down rosters each week, examining processes along the way. This piece will examine the state of chalk from the previous week to see if any meaningful takeaways develop.
Week 12 Chalk
We’ll start this process by going back to my analysis of each piece of chalk expected to be rostered by more than 20 percent of the field.
Trey McBride, TE, Arizona Cardinals
Trey McBride saw a healthy nine targets against the Los Angeles Rams. However, he failed to put up a meaningful guaranteed prize pool (GPP) score, catching seven of nine passes for 60 yards and being held out of the end zone. The roughly 2.5x salary multiplier fell short at extreme ownership.
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts
Seeing a player come in at more than 30 percent ownership in a matchup as poor as the one Jonathan Taylor had in Week 12 was surprising. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers came into Week 12 in the top five in yards allowed per carry and in fantasy points allowed to opposing backs. The Buccaneers hadn’t allowed a rushing score through their first 10 games.
Taylor managed 21.1 DK points behind the first two rushing scores against this elite run defense, checking in as just more than a 3x salary multiplier.
Evan Engram, TE, Jacksonville Jaguars
Evan Engram entered Week 12 with just three red zone targets through 10 games played and a laughable 4.4 aDOT. Yet the field insisted on playing him at ownership.
Engram’s five catches for 49 yards fell below expectations, returning less than 2x his Week 12 salary.
Michael Pittman Jr., WR, Indianapolis Colts
Michael Pittman Jr. was in a good spot entering the week. He’s the top option in the Indianapolis Colts’ pass game and played against the Buccaneers’ heavy Cover 1 and Cover 3 defense.
Still, he failed to return a 4x salary multiplier on 23.7 DK points but was a pivotal piece to the slate due to the lack of points throughout the league in Week 12.
New England Patriots D/ST
I’m just going to post what I said about this play leading up to the weekend: “Are we really excited to play a defense generating the fifth-lowest rate of pressure and just 10 total turnovers through 10 games played at ownership? I’m not.”
Yeah, it went about like that for the New England Patriots.
Dalton Kincaid, TE, Buffalo Bills
Kevin Byard was brought into Philadelphia before Week 7 to boost the Eagles' defensive prowess against tight ends. We saw how he more or less erased Travis Kelce in Week 11, and he limited opposing tight end production once again vs. the Bills.
Dalton Kincaid managed just five catches for 38 yards and fell well below a 2x salary multiplier.
Christian Kirk, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jacksonville Jaguars have a combined five 100-yard receiving games among Calvin Ridley, Christian Kirk, Zay Jones and Engram this season. That makes it unlikely a single pass-catcher from this team returns a GPP score you couldn’t win without.
That trend continued in Week 12. Ridley had 89 yards and a score, and Kirk posted 84 yards on just four receptions. Obviously, Kirk failed to return a 4x salary multiplier in Week 12.
Chalk Hit Rate
Since Week 10, six of 22 chalk players have returned a 4x salary multiplier. This week was the poorest return yet. None of the seven players on more than 20 percent of rosters sniffed a 4x salary multiplier.
Yes, this was a weird week with muted scoring, but the trend remains. It was also interesting to see the field place certainty behind a running back (Taylor) in the worst matchup he had seen all season.
Our sample size of chalk hit rates is still extremely small, meaning no glaring assumptions can be ascertained. We’ll continue tracking this data moving forward.
That said, the Bills-Eagles game was clearly the top on-paper game environment. It came in with extremely low composite ownership, making the Allen double-stack with DeVonta Smith correlated bring-back an extremely +EV starting point. DraftKings user afountain did just that, leaving out Stefon Diggs in the primary stack.
As mentioned, Pittman failed to return a 4x salary multiplier on his inflated price tag but carried meaning on this slate for the raw points he put up. Pittman caught 10 targets for 107 yards in a matchup that favored first-read targets (Cover 1 and Cover 3 defensive alignments favor first-reads).
Even so, it seems the field continues to force correlated bring-backs in both primary stacks and mini-correlations, which was present in this roster via Cade Otton. I’ve continued to hammer this point home all season, but I’ll repeat it. Mini-correlations and bring-backs are less necessary this season due to the dip in weekly scoring; it is more profitable to buck that trend in favor of game over-stacks and skinnies.
Rhamondre Stevenson and the Tennessee Titans D/ST rounded out this roster, returning solid counting stats on the main slate. There isn’t a ton to nitpick with afountain’s roster. It was one of the more well-built rosters we have looked at this season, with solid basics and well-thought-out leverage.
These notes serve as a discussion on how to approach optimal theory. One final note is that the score required to ship the $555 Millionaire Maker—208.76—was the lowest score of any winning week this season. That makes sense, considering we deemed the main slate the “slate of chaos” because of all the moving pieces last week.
As we move forward, particularly with the Week 13 main slate, we’ll likely see the score required to ship large field tournaments back in the 230-240 range. That should largely govern how we piece rosters together.