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How To Handle Week 10 Chalk in DFS

It's common for DFS players to key in on the same expected top plays each week, or 'chalk plays' if you will. We'll look at the expected chalk plays with tips and best practices to improve your roster construction each week.

We’ll also explore theoretical and conceptual areas of roster construction in DFS as we examine various pieces of chalk throughout the season, with the goal to grow as players along the way. Numerous tips, or best practices, will emerge from this exploration. With that, and in our best Bruce Buffer voice, it’s time!

Week 10 Chalk

Trey McBride, Arizona Cardinals

Trey McBride ranks second in the league (among tight ends) in targets per route run rate at 27.4 percent. That said, significant uncertainties are introduced to this offense with the innumerable changes the team is undergoing heading into Week 10. Kyler Murray returns to the starting lineup for the first time since Week 14 of the 2022 season, when he tore his ACL after just three offensive snaps. He has had three weeks of practice time (with just one week of running with the starters) with a second-year tight end and a rookie WR2.

Throughout Murray’s career, he has held one of the league's lowest tight end target rates, ranking second-to-last in 2022 and third-to-last in 2021 and 2020. Particularly on a slate where raw points are likely to be more meaningful than in recent weeks, McBride’s range of outcomes most definitely falls short of being the top overall player in expected ownership.

T.J. Hockenson, Minnesota Vikings

As we’ve covered extensively this season, T.J. Hockenson has operated in a role largely confined to the short areas of the field, meaning he has very little chance of surpassing 100 yards through the air. He has seen double-digit looks three times this season with five additional games of eight targets or more but has yet to surpass 88 yards. He gets a difficult matchup on paper, his opponent is highly unlikely to push the game environment completely and his team is implied for just 19.0 points. 

Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals

I get it; Joe Mixon carries the slate's top median projection versus salary. We must also understand that he has yet to score more than 20.0 DK points this season and has cracked 100 yards on the ground once in the previous two seasons. 

 Marquise Brown, Arizona Cardinals

Marquise Brown has the fewest number of unknowns among Arizona Cardinals skill position players but is still being thrown the football from a quarterback seeing his first game action in almost a full calendar year. Brown’s borderline elite 27.7 percent target market share, elite 31.0 percent red zone target share, and solid 25.5 percent targets per route run (TPRR) rate are muted a bit by a less than stellar 21.5 percent TPRR rate against zone coverage this season, which the Falcons find themselves in at an above average rate.

We would also do well to remember that the Atlanta Falcons have allowed just one quarterback to surpass 250 yards through the air while holding all but Amon-Ra St. Brown and DeAndre Hopkins to 84 yards or fewer this season.

Dallas Cowboys D/ST

The top-scoring fantasy defense against Tommy DeVito and an offense averaging just 11.2 points per game (worst in the league) and allowing 5.4 sacks per game (worst in the league). I won’t fight this one at ownership.

Tank Dell, Houston Texans

Tank Dell ranks top 10 in fantasy points per route run against man coverage and top 18 in yards per route run against zone coverage this season. He holds a solid 14.0 aDOT (11th deepest in the league), and the Bengals have somewhat quietly allowed the deepest defensive aDOT in the league at 9.7 this season.

The Cincinnati Bengals also have only 15 hurries this season and have consistently struggled to generate pressure in the backfield. This should allow quarterback C.J. Stroud a cleaner pocket than he’s seen in other spots this season. We’ve seen what he can do when kept clean and when blitzed (the Bengals carry an above-average 24.8 percent blitz rate) this season.

Oh, and Nico Collins and his 20.7 percent target market share and 23.1 percent TPRR rate are missing from the lineup this week. Dell has an elite median expectation to go along with an elite ceiling in this spot.

Rachaad White, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Rachaad White is like Mixon on this slate, having not surpassed 100 yards on the ground once this season but carrying a robust pass game role. He’ll need to score multiple touchdowns to sink you for not playing him this week.

 Ja’Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals will be without Tee Higgins and lead the league in pass rate over expectation during the previous month of play. Ja'Marr Chase carries an elite 28.3 percent TPRR rate against zone coverage this season, which the Houston Texans have played at the eighth-highest rate in 2023. They’ve also allowed explosive plays at the 10th-highest rate from zone coverage this season, which spells trouble against the talented wide receiver.

 Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys

Tony Pollard has cracked 20 DK points once this season, which came back in Week 1 and required two touchdowns. His efficiency metrics have fallen off a clip compared to the 2022 season as the team has changed how they utilize him. The theoretical ceiling is there, but I prefer a guy like Travis Etienne at cost.

Value Was There, Then Gone, Then Back Again

We went through a portion of the season that presented numerous options as far as projectable value is concerned before having it ripped away on last week’s slate. We then made it through Wednesday of the Week 10 slate without much in the way of value options before mid-week injuries to Collins and Higgins began to present the potential for viable salary-savers. That’s an important consideration to remember through the lens of what the expected chalk tells us.

Even though some projectable value pieces opened up on this slate due to the various injuries around the league, the fact that those injuries occurred during the week has left the field slow to adjust to the changing dynamics of the slate. This is evident by the lack of value options and lack of pay-up options amongst the top expected ownership from the field.

In other words, expect the governing roster construction to include more balanced rosters this week. Whether or not players such as Trenton Irwin, Andrei Iosivas, Dell, Dalton Schultz, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine and Kyle Philips return usable GPP scores remains to be seen. Still, at least we know the field is unlikely to enlist their services at a high rate this week.

Higher Median Game Totals Matter

We have a higher median game total this week than we have seen in some time, which slightly goes against the recent trend of suppressed scoring throughout the league. We still have a relatively small 10-game slate, but we should see higher scores than the low 230s that have shipped major contests before last week’s 250-point eruption. That’s an important theoretical assumption to include in the previous discussion on governing roster construction tendencies for constructing rosters with clearer paths to first place.

In other words, the value that has opened up during the previous 48 hours should combine with the increased median game total from the games on the slate to provide additional opportunities for points to accumulate within the constructs of our $50,000 salary cap.

From a micro perspective, players like Christian McCaffrey, Etienne, Chase, St. Brown, Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler are likely to carry ownership that doesn’t match their ability to put the slate out of reach in Week 10 due to the slow reaction from the field to projectable value that has become available this week. Don’t be afraid to build rosters in ways the field is largely underutilizing on a given slate.

That will do it for our Week 10 exploration of chalk and some theoretical and conceptual takeaways. We’ll run this series every week of the 2023 season, picking out new learning points each week. I welcome all feedback with this new column, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to let me know things you like or things I could do better.

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