After an incredibly unpredictable Week 8, things rounded back into form for the most part in Week 9. While there were still a certain amount of landmines along the way, it paled in comparison to the prior week. We’ll place both of those weeks in the rearview mirror and zero in on what we have on tap for Week 10. Things are not completely clear cut from a chalk perspective as we have a whopping seven games hovering around the same projected total of between 48 and 50 points, but we can still zero in on which way the winds are blowing.
Before we dig into the week’s top chalk selections and how to approach them, let’s take a look at the games and scenarios that everyone will have on their radar for Week 10.
Chalk Game Of The Week
Atlanta Falcons @ Philadelphia Eagles
When we have a quarterback that’s playing at an MVP level in the projected highest scoring game of the week, and we combine that with the fact that the team he plays for allows a boatload of points to opposing signal callers, we have ourselves the chalk game of the week. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones combos will find their way onto many rosters this weekend, and we’ll also see plenty of people take some shots with stacks anchored by Carson Wentz.
Ryan is a strong play as long as he continues playing at such a high level. Jones is pricey but easily capable of exploding, so we’ll definitely keep him on our short list. Wentz is awfully intriguing as well due to his low price, and perhaps this is the week he’ll get back on track towards the solid level of play he displayed in the early part of the season. The top options to stack with Wentz are Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz, with Mathews being the safer of the two due to the enormous target volume he’s seen over the past two weeks.
For the ground games, Devonta Freeman may find some company in the backfield in the form of a returning Tevin Coleman, so we’ll temper expectations just in case. Darren Sproles has been christened as the lead dog in Philadelphia backfield, so he looks awfully appealing at his low price. Bottom line, we’ll want some exposure to this game even if we choose not to go the stacking route.
Other Games Attracting A Ton Of Interest
Dallas Cowboys @ Pittsburgh Steelers. We have intriguing skill position players on both sides, as well as a game that’s projected to be high scoring in the late afternoon window. Ezekiel Elliott is the second most expensive running back of the week, and that’s for a very simple reason: he’s playing like an absolute stud, and he needs to be on your short list every week. Le’Veon Bell disappointed last week against the Ravens, and there’s a distinct possibility he does the same against a solid Cowboys run defense. Speaking of disappointments, Ben Roethlisberger looked like he could have seriously benefitted from another week off, so we’ll temper expectations until he shows signs of returning to form.
The concerns about Roethlisberger lead us to not be as enthusiastic about paying up for Antonio Brown this week, but we all know the upside he brings to the table. We’ll consider him if we’re running multiple lineups, but look for safer options if rolling with a single bullet. Dak Prescott continues to impress, but the salary makers at DraftKings are not showing him much love. We’ll take advantage of that fact and keep him penciled in on our short list for the week. For a stack option with Prescott, we’ll look to save some coin by pairing him up with his safety blanket Jason Witten.
San Francisco 49ers @ Arizona Cardinals. Let’s start by getting something really simple out of the way: David Johnson deserves incredibly strong consideration for your lineups in Week 10. The 49ers have an atrocious run defense, and Johnson is playing at an incredibly high level. There’s concern of a blowout for this game, but Johnson can do enough damage in limited duty to pay off his hefty price tag. The passing game of the Cardinals also deserves serious consideration, as the 49ers secondary also happens to be porous.
If there was ever a game for Carson Palmer to return to form in 2016, this would be that game. We can make a case for numerous Cardinals pass catchers as stacking options, but we’ll lean towards Larry Fitzgerald as the top choice, and JJ Nelson for a little contrarian flavor. On the 49ers front, there’s not much to love outside of the potential for garbage time points. We could consider Colin Kaepernick for that reason, but only if rolling with multiple lineups.
Matchups The Masses Are Attracted To
We covered some of the big ones already - Wentz vs. Falcons, Johnson vs. 49ers - but there’s still a couple of solid-looking matchups that will be popping up on many radars this weekend.
Aaron Rodgers vs. Titans. The Titans have allowed multiple touchdowns for four weeks running, and it’s not hard to see Rodgers making it five in a row. Rodgers also happens to have returned to form from a fantasy perspective, and he’ll be one of the more popular options in Week 10.
Mike Evans vs. Bears. When you have a player that receives a ton of targets that’s facing off against a secondary that’s been burned on numerous occasions by opposing wideouts, you’ve found yourself a player that will be incredibly popular for the week. Evans brings multiple touchdown upside to the table, but we’ll have to keep a close eye on the injury reports as he continues to work his way through the concussion protocol.
Last Week’s Heroes
RB Melvin Gordon. There was plenty of chatter earlier this year about whether or not Gordon was an NFL caliber running back, but he’s slammed the door shut on that conversation. Quite simply, he produces, and he delivered one of the top performances in all of Week 9. He’ll pop up on the radar for most DFSers, unless they’re among the crowd that insists on digging their feet in the sand to claim he’s not a quality back.
RB Mark Ingram. What a difference a week makes. Some time spent on the bench in Week 8 sparked a fire in Ingram, and he exploded for a monster day against the 49ers. There’s a pretty big step up in competition this week with the Broncos coming to town, so we’ll temper our enthusiasm on his potential output, but also note that the Broncos just surrendered three rushing touchdowns to the Raiders.
QB Marcus Mariota. The Titans found themselves in a shootout against the Chargers last Sunday, and Mariota managed to put on a show. He was one of the week’s most productive signal callers, and he has another potentially fruitful matchup on the table against the Packers. Mariota’s an intriguing option that may fall slightly under the radar, but we’ll keep him in mind if running multiple lineups.
Let’s take a look at this week’s top chalk plays by position and how to handle them, starting with the quarterback position.
QB Carson Palmer, $6,500. We touched on Palmer’s prospects for the week earlier, and it’s not hard to see other DFSers reaching similar conclusions. Rodgers may have an ownership percentage in the same neighborhood, but we’ll lean towards Palmer being more popular due to the price differential. He’s a fine choice for Week 10, and there’s no glaring reason to fade him outside of concerns that the game will turn into a blowout.
There’s plenty of other directions we can go at quarterback if we would like to pivot, and we can even find appealing options in the same salary neighborhood. Philip Rivers and Jameis Winston are similarly priced for Week 10, and both have appealing matchups in front of them against the Dolphins and Bears respectively.
RB David Johnson, $8,400. We already covered Johnson’s potential upside for the matchup against the 49ers, and it’s safe to say that won’t escape the notice of other DFSers this week. On paper, Johnson should torch the 49ers and deliver a monster fantasy day. The risk is two-fold: blowout risk, and the potential that coaches will want to limit his carries as the season grows long in the tooth.
There’s plenty of other options at a lower price point, namely Melvin Gordon and Ezekiel Elliott, but Johnson’s potential output makes him a risky fade. For single lineups, he deserves serious shortlist consideration. On the multiple lineup front, you’ll want plenty of exposure, but it wouldn’t be the craziest thing in the world to run a few lineups without Johnson for some differentiation.
WR Mike Evans, $9,000. The multiple touchdown upside draws a crowd every single time. This week will be no different, and Evans will have an ownership percentage that’s through the roof if he’s given the green light for Sunday. Similar to Johnson, he has some absolutely massive upside, and we’d have to think long and hard about bypassing him if running just a single lineup, but we’ll at least give it a passing thought if running multiple lineups.
If you’re looking to fade Evans, the best option may be to save some money at wideout. There’s a plethora of options at nearly every price point, with Larry Fitzgerald and Jarvis Landry two of the more appealing options in the next salary tier. If you’d like to stay in the same price range, your options are limited to Antonio Brown and Julio Jones. We’ll lean towards Jones as the safer option in a potential shootout.
TE Travis Kelce, $5,600. The Panthers have had their share of struggles against tight ends in 2016, and that will lead many in Kelce’s direction in Week 10. That may actually turn out to be a prescient move, as there’s concerns that Jeremy Maclin could miss the game. Kelce would become the top option in the Chiefs passing game as a result. The upside is there, it’s just a matter of whether or not the Chiefs game plan calls for him to be utilized to his full potential.
That’s not always the case, and $5,600 is a lot to spend on a tight end that could be in the realm of boom-bust for the week. Our research points us to him having a boom week, but concerns about a bust have us leaning towards saving some salary cap space at the position. Zach Miller and Cameron Brate are two of the more appealing options at the lower end of the salary scale.
D Arizona Cardinals, $3,700. The Cardinals are a huge home favorite against a poor team that can be prone to turnovers. In short, they will be owned at very high levels, and you may want to jump on board. DraftKings has been pretty consistent in their pricing for defenses, and the top plays of the week tend to reside north of $3,000 on the salary chart. That’s the case for this week as well, as there are several appealing options in that range, but just a few when you head further south.
If you’re looking to mix things up, there’s several contrarian options among the expensive crowd, including the Patriots and Panthers. Both clubs have tough matchups in front of them against the Seahawks and Chiefs respectively, and that could translate into some lower scoring affairs. Add in a little bounce for playing at home, and perhaps there’s a turnover or defensive score in the cards for one of our contrarian selections.
Thanks for reading The Chalk for Week 10. Enjoy the games this weekend, and best of luck with your lineups. Feel free to hit me up anytime on Twitter - @cm_feery - or email - firstname.lastname@example.org - with questions or comments.