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How To Handle Week 13 Chalk in DFS

Indianapolis Colts RB Zack Moss
Indianapolis Colts running back Zack Moss (21 runs the ball during the second half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

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

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 being 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 13 Chalk

Zack Moss, Indianapolis Colts

The top point-per-dollar expectation since Week 3. It’s as simple as that. How we handle the extreme chalk with Zack Moss is more important than simply asking ourselves “Should we play Moss at extreme ownership or fade him?”

This game is not about ones and zeroes. It’s much more complex than that. So, how do we play Moss on rosters that include him and how do we maximize leverage on the rosters that don’t?

Rachaad White, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Rachaad White struggles in the area the Carolina Panthers' defense struggles to defend (on the ground) and excels in the area that the Panthers' defense defends well (targets to running backs).

White can find his way into multiple touchdowns in this spot, but that’s exactly what we’ll need for a GPP-worthy score from Mr. White this week.

Tyreek Hill, Miami Dolphins

The player with the most explosive plays on the team generating the most explosive plays against the defense giving up the most explosive plays through the air. Checks out. Tyreek Hill is in a glorious spot for elite production in Week 13.

Christian McCaffrey, San Francisco 49ers

I was shocked to see Christian McCaffrey's expected ownership for this week. The Philadelphia Eagles face the highest pass rate over expectation this season and have largely suppressed opposing running back production.

That said, McCaffrey is on a different planet than the other backs in the league and is always capable of piercing 100 yards on the ground and/or through the air and carries the most valuable red zone role in the league. He is also playing in the game environment with the best chances of developing into something we had to have this week.

Javonte Williams, Denver Broncos

There isn’t a massive difference in the expected workloads of Javonte Williams and Moss this week. The field has identified that truth successfully, it seems. That said, Williams is a guy I’d personally be more comfortable playing at lower ownership considering the other backs on the slate.

Rhamondre Stevenson, New England Patriots

Rhamondre Stevenson is another back with a solid expected workload in a non-ideal spot. That seems to be the theme of DFS in 2023.

Atlanta Falcons D/ST

I get it, play the defense against Tim Boyle – it makes sense. The Atlanta Falcons have done a solid job at suppressing overall offensive production this season but have been atrocious at generating turnovers (just 12 through 11 games played). Boyle surely increases the odds of multiple turnovers, but there are better shots to take at defense this week, at least on paper.

What’s Most Important in Week 13

If we break this slate down into what is truly important, we’ll see there are four primary areas to be concerned with. Everything else fits around those four primary things. Those things are higher median game totals, Moss, the Miami Dolphins and the 49ers-Eagles game environment. Those four things must be accounted for on every roster.

The median game total on the Week 13 main slate is higher than it has been in the previous month (three main slates), meaning the score to ship major GPPs is likely going to be higher than it has been over the previous three weeks.

Last week, in the week of chaos, we accurately identified that the score required to ship majors was likely to be lower than it had been all season. Scores around 210 DK points shipped most majors last week, the lowest required score this season. That leaves this slate with a massive shift in overall feel and composition and fundamentally alters the way we should be approaching roster construction this week.

Moss is going to garner the highest ownership of any player we have seen this season, upwards of 50-70 percent, depending on the size and type of contest. That automatically makes him a player we must account for on every roster.

That doesn’t mean we have to play him on every roster, but we absolutely must be thinking through what it means if we play him and what it means if we don’t, and how to best maximize expected value in each instance.

The Dolphins carry the slate’s highest Las Vegas-implied team total at just under 30 points this week. This makes sense if you consider their ability to hang points on the scoreboard in a hurry through their ability to generate explosive plays paired with the Washington Commanders’ inability to stop teams from generating explosive plays.

This means we must account for the Dolphins on every roster in play. Notice we did not leave that discussion with the high expected ownership of Hill. No, the Dolphins as a whole.

Finally, the game with the best chances of lapping the field through its game environment erupting is the San Francisco-Philadelphia game. Both defenses face the highest and second-highest opponent pass rate over expectation values this season, both offenses are capable of scoring with ease and both offenses are concentrated (Eagles) to relatively concentrated (49ers).

The matchup against the 49ers also turns the expectation of concentration a little more in our favor with the Eagles’ ability to generate pressure, against which tight end George Kittle is typically kept inline at a higher rate and sees his route participation drop.

As for the Eagles, almost two-thirds of the team’s available air yards have gone through A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith in the absence of Dallas Goedert this season, the latter of whom is listed as doubtful for Week 13. Concentration. Check. Elite offenses. Check.

Coaching staffs that are likely to keep the aggression high considering their opponent. Check. This game is one we must consider on every roster in play this weekend. It also appears to be one of the clearest paths to leverage generation on the slate due to the relatively low composite ownership held from the players in this game.

Building Leverage Through That

With that basic theoretical understanding under our belts, how can we build +EV rosters using those guidelines? Furthermore, how can we fold in our observations of the field to boost leverage?

We know a large portion of the field is going to start their rosters with Moss, Hill and McCaffrey, forced into more balanced constructions behind those three due to the allocation of salary required. That is going to make the upper echelon of quarterbacks and tight ends see lower ownership that they otherwise should on this slate.

It is also going to lower the ownership on the remainder of the elites in player pricing, namely Austin Ekeler, Alvin Kamara, Keenan Allen, Brown and Amon-Ra St. Brown.

Furthermore, the players priced in the sub-elite tier ($6,500-$7,900 on DraftKings) are going to see lower ownership than they otherwise should on this slate, a group of players that includes many of the names from the Dolphins, 49ers and Eagles.

This is all due to crowd psychology, pricing psychology and how the chalk pieces interact with each other, painting a clear picture of how we expect the field to behave and a clear picture of how we can build leverage smartly.

Unique player combinations under the umbrella of the above discussion about what is most important on this slate include Brock Purdy + McCaffrey + Brandon Aiyuk, Aiyuk + Brown, McCaffrey + Smith, Hill + Brown + Aiyuk, Brown + McCaffrey + Jaylen Waddle, De’Von Achane + McCaffrey + Smith, etc. – you get the picture.

There are so many ways to build the core of rosters to generate leverage this week, all while keeping the most important things on this slate at the front of our minds.

That will do it for our Week 13 exploration of chalk and some theoretical and conceptual takeaways. We’ll be running this series every week of the 2023 season, picking out new learning points with 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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