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How To Handle Week 9 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 9 Chalk

Alvin Kamara, New Orleans

From my DFS+ writeup of this game in The Edge on

“While the Bears present a solid matchup for Alvin Kamara through the air, his two outlier aerial production games came with the Saints playing from behind for most of the game (14 targets in the loss to the Jaguars in Week 7 and 14 targets in the loss to the Buccaneers in Week 4). His target totals in wins and close losses this season are five, eight, and three, with the two games of five or fewer targets coming in the two New Orleans wins during the previous five weeks. The Saints are currently instilled as 8.5-point favorites against the Bears. All of that to say, we should expect a likeliest scenario of 17-20 carries and three to five targets for Kamara in this spot in a matchup that is more difficult than public perception. That’s a tough sell for me at $8,100.”

Demario Douglas, New England Patriots

Demario Douglas is a 5-foot-8 slot wide receiver who runs a 4.44 40. His 13 targets over the previous two weeks are solid. Still, the absence of Kendrick Bourne is highly unlikely to increase a snap rate that was already 62 percent drastically and 77 percent the previous two weeks on an offense that typically lands around 60 percent 12-personnel utilization in games they can play to neutral-to-positive game script. Highly unlikely to sink your roster at $4,000 but equally as unlikely to contribute to a GPP-winning roster.

Devin Singletary, Houston Texans

The Houston Texans have utilized a split backfield for the entirety of the 2023 season, with the highest snap rate for a back in a single game this season, landing at 59 percent. Furthermore, the three backs that have been active on game days have all seen offensive snaps for the Texans this season, including Mike Boone and Dare Ogunbowale. All of that to say, I find it highly unlikely that Devin Singletary is tasked with more than 60 percent of the offensive snaps in a pass-funnel matchup for a team that has fed its lead back more than a modest 18 running back opportunities just twice this season.

Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders

I dig leveraging the uncertainty with Josh Jacobs this week … at moderate ownership. The goods – Jacobs saw 11 targets in rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell’s only start this season, a 24-17 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers; Jacobs ranks third in the league in opportunity share, third in carries and second in targets at the running back position. The New York Giants have allowed 23.8 DK points per game to opposing backs.

The bads – the Las Vegas Raiders remain the only team in the NFL to score 21 points or fewer in every game this season, Las Vegas ranks 25th in red zone scoring rate at 44.0 percent, and the Giants have held the New York Jets, Washington Commanders and Buffalo Bills to just 11.33 points per game over their previous three outings. 

Bijan Robinson, Atlanta Falcons

A little tidbit from Mike Johnson in a text last night – “Tyler Allgeier opportunity counts in Falcons wins: 24, 18, 16, 18.” The Atlanta Falcons are 3.5-point favorites against a Minnesota Vikings team led by rookie quarterback Jaren Hall. Another way to read that – Bijan Robinson has seen more than 16 running back opportunities in just three of eight games this season. 

Saquon Barkley, New York Giants

We have to spend our salary somewhere this week, and Saquon Barkley is coming off the highest single-game usage of any running back over the previous decade (36 carries and 35.7 percent team target market share). Even so, Barkley averages 17.8 DK points per game on 22 carries and five targets per game this season. In other words, Barkley is not exactly setting the world on fire with his robust opportunity this year.

A.J. Brown, Philadelphia Eagles

A.J. Brown boasts a 39.2 percent targets per route run rate against man coverage this season, including a league-leading 0.95 fantasy points per route run against that primary coverage alignment. The Dallas Cowboys are in man coverage at the fourth-highest rate in the league (34.9 percent). He also set an NFL record for six consecutive games of 125 yards receiving or more last week. 

Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts

Head coach Shane Steichen has largely made good on his promise to bring Jonathan Taylor along slowly over the course of a month following his return to the team after continuing to deal with an ankle injury into the season. Taylor’s snap rate has increased in each subsequent game, from 15 percent to 42 percent, to 50 percent, to 61 percent in Week 8. The Carolina Panthers rank 31st in DK points allowed per game to opposing backs at 32.6, having allowed 4.7 yards per carry and 14 rushing scores this year.

Fewer Pay-Up Options

On the Week 8 slate, there were 17 skill position players priced at $7,000 or more. That number is just 12 on the Week 8 slate with four teams on bye and the Dolphins, Chiefs, Bills, Bengals, and Chargers off the main slate. Furthermore, there were six quarterbacks priced at $6,500 or higher and 11 quarterbacks priced at $5,800 or higher last week. Those numbers are down to two options above $6,500 and five above $6,500 this week. That typically leads to more concentrated ownership amongst the players left in those distinct buckets of salary, which we’re seeing transpire on this slate.

Furthermore, we have “projectable value,” or low-cost options that project well from a median projection versus salary standpoint, present on this slate for the first time in a month. That should serve to amplify the expected ownership amongst the few pay-up options on the slate.

The (Perceived) Value Has Returned

Chuba Hubbard has usurped Miles Sanders for the lead back role in Carolina, playing an opponent in the Colts that has struggled to contain opposing backfields this season. Hubbard is priced at $5,000.

Dameon Pierce was ruled out with an ankle injury this week, leaving Singletary as the de facto lead back in a difficult matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Singletary is priced at $4,300.

Bourne suffered a torn ACL in Week 8, while DeVante Parker is out in Week 9 because of a concussion. Douglas has 13 targets in the previous two games and is priced at $4,000.

Emari Demercado will miss Week 9, while James Conner remains on injured reserve. The Arizona Cardinals average 27.3 carries and four running back targets per game. They are expected to start rookie quarterback Clayton Tune against one of the top pass defenses in the league, a matchup that has seen the Cleveland Browns face 24.4 rush attempts per game on only 54.9 plays per game, good for a 44.4 percent rush rate against. Keaontay Ingram is priced at $4,300.

The Giants have held the Jets, Commanders and Bills to 11.33 points per game over their previous three games, with 10 sacks over their previous two. They take on a Raiders team that is the only remaining team yet to score more than 21 points in a game this season and that also just fired their coach and GM. The Giants D/ST is priced at $2,300.

Darren Waller will miss Week 9 after aggravating the hamstring injury that has plagued him for the better part of the past two seasons. The Giants have shifted to a more concentrated offense of late, with Darius Slayton, Jalin Hyatt and the tight end playing near every-down roles. At the same time, Wan’Dale Robinson operates in a standard-for-slot 60-65 percent role. Daniel Bellinger played 89 percent of the team’s snaps in Week 8 after Waller departed and is priced at the stone minimum of $2,500.

Darrell Henderson has seen running back opportunity counts of 20 and 15 in the absence of Kyren Williams for the Los Angeles Rams and gets the pleasure of running against the Green Bay Packers in Week 9. Henderson is priced at $5,100.

There are other potential value options on the slate, but the point should be clear by now. The relative lack of options amongst the elite-tier in player pricing paired with numerous potential value players at low salary should lead to rather condensed roster construction and ownership numbers across the board this week. Theoretically, that makes mid-priced players with elite ceiling pop on paper.

Players such as Nico Collins, Marquise Brown, D’Andre Swift, Taylor, Jordan Addison, Brandin Cooks, Mark Andrews, T.J. Hockenson and Dallas Goedert provide paths to elite ceiling at modest expected ownership due to the state of the slate and could be some of the most valuable leverage players of the season.

That will do it for our Week 9 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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