8 min read

How To Handle Week 8 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. 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 of growing 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 8 DFS Chalk

Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints

Alvin Kamara holds a 37.1 percent target per route run rate against Cover-3 this season. The Indianapolis Colts play from Cover-3 at the highest rate in the league on defense. Kamara is on pace to set an NFL record for targets in a season at running back. Kamara has missed three games due to suspension. Kamara reached 29.3 DK points last week – without finding the end zone. Certainly 30+ DK points is well within his range of outcomes against a Colts team that breeds solid game environments due to their offensive success, elevated pace of play, and underperforming defense. Play Alvin Kamara.

Trey McBride, Arizona Cardinals

If we combine the fantasy involvement and production of Zach Ertz and Trey McBride this season, we would be left with what amounts to the TE4 on the season. That profile now rests on McBride’s shoulder alone after Ertz was placed on injured reserve earlier this week. Even so, the Arizona Cardinals carry the second-lowest Vegas implied team total on the slate and have scored more than their Week 8 implied total once since Week 3. Remember the importance of 30+ fantasy point potential this week (McBride scoring 30+ fantasy points in this slot would be more like a 99 percent outcome than an 80 percent outcome)!

Atlanta Falcons D/ST

Man, chalk defense that has the best point-per-dollar median projection on the slate. We know the drill here – median projections mean very little to us at defense due to the highly variant scoring at the position. That said, it’s hard to argue against the top point-per-dollar play at the position on the slate. Just understand that there are defenses that carry as much, if not more, upside from a raw points perspective, including the Ravens, Eagles, Jets, Chiefs and potentially even the Vikings.

Breece Hall, New York Jets

Breece Hall is $100 less than Bijan Robinson, has a higher median projection than Robinson, and has a higher 80 percent outcome than Robinson. Hall is objectively a better on-paper play than Robinson. And yet, both players are projected for about the same ownership in Week 8. Statistically speaking, if both players have a similar price and similar ownership expectation, but one player has a range of outcomes that far exceed the other, there is inherent leverage to playing the player with the more robust range of outcomes. 

Zay Flowers, Baltimore Ravens

Zay Flowers has three games this season with double-digit targets and no game with more than 11 looks through the air. The first game came in Week 1 with Mark Andrews on the out. The second and third instances of double-digit targets came in both Baltimore losses.

Andrews will play in Week 8, and the Baltimore Ravens are favored by 9.5 points at Arizona. The path to 30 DK points for wide receivers includes nine to 10 receptions, 100-110 yards and a touchdown, with an additional touchdown removing the need to crack the 100-yard receiving bonus. That profile likely makes up only five percent of Flowers’ range of outcomes here, meaning he can return 30+ DK points in this spot, but it is much more unlikely to happen than other players that have 20-25 percent of their range of outcomes in the 30+ DK points realm.

Isiah Pacheco, Kansas City Chiefs

Look, I get it, play running backs against the Denver Broncos. Even so, Isiah Pacheco averages 14.3 carries and three targets per game. With a profile that lacks clear paths to upside through the air, he will require 100 yards and two touchdowns on the ground to return a viable GPP-worthy score here. Can he return those numbers on 14-16 carries and two to three targets against the Broncos? Sure, he can. Does it represent a solid portion of his range of outcomes here? Nope! Remember, a 13-game slate means we must have every player on our rosters hold clear paths to 30+ DK points!

 Bijan Robinson, Atlanta Falcons

I was talking about this with Jordan Vanek on the Cover 5 show Friday, and he brought up that the DraftKings pricing algorithm was exploited this week after Bijan Robinson saw one offensive snap and had one carry for three yards in Week 7. Objectively, Robinson is probably the first instance of a player being priced this far below median projection since Puka Nacua earlier in the season.

Even so, his opponent, the Tennessee Titans, has allowed just 3.6 yards per carry, and the matchup yields one of the lower net yards before contact values on the slate. Robinson has seen five or more targets in all but one healthy game, which helps to bolster his median projection, but the sledding could be tough to unlock legitimate 30+ DK point upside in this spot.

Big Slate, Big Scores

There aren’t any games on the Week 8 slate that carry a game total over 50 points. Scoring is down around the league, and this slate feels overwhelming and ambiguous. And yet, we must realize that there are zero teams on bye this week, and we have 26 teams in play on the main slate.

From a pure law of probabilities perspective, that immediately means that the score required to ship GPPs this week will likely be much higher than in previous weeks due to the sheer number of teams and players on the slate. More chances for outlier production, probabilistically speaking, is likely to lead to more players with outlier production when all is said and done.

Why is that so important here? It means that every player we place on rosters this week must carry a clear path to 30+ DK points in their range of outcomes because somebody is likely to capture a roster full of 30+ fantasy points and ship GPPs on this slate. That is the most important theoretical aspect of this slate and something we must keep in mind as we build this week. What’s more, the field is likely to struggle with these methods after four consecutive slates where 230-235 points was winning large field GPPs.

Where’d the Value Go?

Similar to last week’s slate, we don’t have many clear value options that project well from a median projections standpoint this week. That said, we have two players who are fundamentally underpriced for their respective range of outcomes — Hall and Robinson.

Robinson’s salary on DraftKings was a victim of one carry for three yards in Week 7, meaning his salary likely would not have taken a significant hit had he simply put up a zero. That has left his Week 8 price far below his median projection, which has led to increased expected ownership on this slate. That said, if we compare his range of outcomes to a player like Hall, we find that he might be one of the worst chalk plays of the season from a theoretical perspective.

Taking into account the above discussion on what score it is likely to take to win GPPs this week and comparing that process with Robinson’s range of outcomes in a difficult matchup, we find a player with a lower than 20 percent chance of breaking 27 DK points (an 80 percent outcome means it will happen 20 percent of the time). Compare that to Hall’s range of outcomes, or even guys like D’Andre Swift, Jonathan Taylor and Pacheco, and we find that Robinson’s path to ceiling is much thinner than others in his same salary tier.

Along those lines, we typically can’t generate a significant amount of leverage through true pivots or making a one-for-one decision amongst players in the same pricing tier. On this slate, we most certainly can. Simply comparing range of outcome projections to expected ownership provides some of the easier leverage we can generate when playing DFS.

Beyond those two players, the general absence of value is going to give the field fits because our basic human psychological tendencies are going to continue to drive ownership to the upper echelon of player pricing. That will make a solid chunk of rosters in play this week fragile, with little chance of winning a GPP. Consider more balanced roster constructions in Week 8!

That will do it for our Week 8 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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