As we’ve learned over the past few weeks, it’s relatively easy to get a sense of the chalk plays across the industry. Games with high projected totals, stellar individual matchups, and players that are simply playing at another level tend to point us to the week’s most popular plays. That provides us with a solid base of knowledge from which we can decide which players to roll with and which ones to fade.
Can we take that information a step further, and determine if it’s a good week to play the chalk by specific positions? The answer is yes, and there’s a super simple way to determine what the week looks like as a whole from a projection standpoint. Even better, we can figure it out without ever leaving the friendly confines of this site.
A simple glance at our Interactive Value Chart on a weekly basis will provide us with some clear signs about what the correct approach is looking like for each position. There’s a thorough explanation at the top of the page that walks you through the different features, and it’s easily sortable by both game slate and position. Let’s take a look at two positions based on this week’s data to help figure out which way the winds are blowing.
If we select the running back position for whichever slate we’re looking at, and change the preferences to H-Value, we can sort the players to determine what look like some of the week’s stronger players. We see names such as LeVeon Bell and David Johnson at the top of the list, and also find that only two of the Top 10 plays by this methodology check in with a salary of less than $6,000. That points us to spend up at running back this week, and there’s a good chance we’ll land on some of the more popular selections as the best choices. It may be a good week to look at the chalk and not overthink it.
If we perform the same test at the wide receiver position, we find a vastly different result. Half of the Top 10 selections according to H-Value are on the cheaper side this week, so it may be a good week to zero in on some contrarian value plays for our lineups. One caveat is that there tends to be a fair amount of value plays at wide receiver on a weekly basis due to DraftKings full PPR scoring. Cheaper running backs that are in line for a healthy workload will stick out like a sore thumb, and they tend to become pretty chalky as game time gets closer.
That’s one more simple tool to add to the belt, but we’ll still need to sort through the specific chalk selections to determine which ones make the most sense to be included on our rosters. Let’s see if we can narrow that down for this week by taking a look at the two games that are attracting a large amount of interest this week.
Carolina Panthers @ New Orleans Saints
When the Saints are on the docket, there’s a pretty good chance it will have a high projected total attached to it. Add in the fact that this week’s game takes place on the fast track that is the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, and you have yourself a game that’s front and center on the DFS radar for Week 6.
Quite simply, the fact that the Saints can be had defensively is not one that escapes the collective mindset of the DFS community. The Saints have played four games thus far, and only one of them was a stinker for fantasy purposes. Counting down from Week 1, we’ve seen totals of 69, 29, 77 and 69 points. In short, points are in the forecast down in New Orleans on Sunday, and you’ll want to get yourself a piece of the action.
The obvious place to start for a projected shootout is to the signal callers from both sides, and we can expect both Cam Newton and Drew Brees to pop up on many short lists this week. We’ll give the edge to Newton in terms of being owned at a higher rate, as some may still find it tough to play an opponent of the Panthers. Those feelings need to go by the wayside, as this isn’t your 2015 version of the club. Brees is in a good spot to produce this week, and there’s little reason to bypass either signal caller outside of a desire to save some money.
Since we know that both passing games will be popular targets, we can look to the running games for a small chance of uniqueness. As we outlined up above, it looks like a good week to pay up at running back. That could lead to Jonathan Stewart and Mark Ingram flying under the radar, and you can certainly make a case for rostering either one. Stewart is slightly concerning as this will be his first week back off of injury, but signs point to him being given a full green light. Ingram has delivered a real nice return over his past two games, and he could be in line to make it three in a row.
The passing game targets open up a wealth of options. We can look at the upper reaches of the salary charts for players such as Kelvin Benjamin, Brandin Cooks and Greg Olsen, and they all appear to be in good positions for productive outings this week. Further down the salary scale we find Willie Snead and Michael Thomas, both of whom make for intriguing options. Thomas is extremely affordable at a price of $4,300, and he’s been targeted 20 times over the past two weeks. For an affordable target on the Panthers side, we find the risky option named Ted Ginn Jr. at $3,900. He hasn’t been involved in the offense too much this season, but it’s not hard to envision a deep shot or two heading in his direction on the fast carpet.
In short, we’ll want some exposure to this matchup. There’s plenty of ways to skin the cat here, but leaning towards a passing game target appears to be a pretty prudent tact to approaching this game. Those looking to stack either Newton or Brees with one of their respective targets will have a lot of company, so you’ll want to look for some uniqueness at some other roster spots.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Oakland Raiders
This matchup opened up with a projected total of 48.5 points, but it’s crept down to its current level of 47 points. That hasn’t dampened the collective enthusiasm of the DFS community, as appetites are whetted for a good old fashioned late afternoon AFC West shootout. No promises that comes to fruition of course, but the signs point to it being a distinct possibility.
As you would expect, Derek Carr will pop up on many short lists this week. He’s thrown 11 TDs thus far, and he brings 300 passing yard upside to the table when he steps on the field. Enthusiasm is always tempered for Alex Smith, as the first adjective that typically comes to mind is game manager. While that may be the case, he’s as efficient of a dink and dunker as you’ll find. Add in the fact that the Raiders have inspired some solid performances from opposing signal callers thus far in 2016, and Smith shapes up to be a solid play in Week 6.
Jamaal Charles appears to finally be at full strength, so it will be interesting to see what his workload for this game turns out to be. If he’s at full strength as advertised, he’s a viable play even if his carries are somewhat less than normal. That being said, he may be a risky proposition for those playing single lineups. Those that employ a multi-lineup strategy should find room for Charles on some rosters, as the possibility of an appealing return at his low salary of $5,100 is clearly on the table. Spencer Ware should still have a role, but the lack of clarity on workload split makes him a less than safe option.
Question marks abound for the Raiders running game, and it may be best to stay away unless some clarity develops heading into game time. It’s unclear if Latavius Murray will be good to go at this time, and DFSers that were burned by their enthusiasm for DeAndre Washington last week will likely not want to return to that well. We’ll pass on the Raiders backfield for the moment, but we still like Washington as a long-term prospect.
For passing game targets, the Chiefs typically start and end with Jeremy Maclin and Travis Kelce. Either make for solid pairs with Smith, but we’ll give the edge to Maclin based on target volume. An under the radar contrarian option is Chris Conley, who is currently third on the team in targets. He’s a clear boom-bust option, and only recommended for those playing multiple lineups and looking for a low-cost flier to gain some exposure to this game.
The Raiders big two targets of Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree are in play, but there’s a risk that one is completely taken out of the game by ball-hawking defender Marcus Peters. Coverage could rotate of course, but you need to be aware that one of these two could have a shadow lingering over them for a good portion of the late Sunday afternoon tilt. Seth Roberts represents the contrarian approach to a Raiders passing game target, as he’s already found the end zone three times this season.
The most popular targets from this matchup will likely be the passing game targets, and the big four of Maclin, Kelce, Cooper and Crabtree are all viable options. Maclin and Kelce may be the safer options due to the shadow risk outlined above, but the Raiders passing attack will not be completely shut down either, so you can certainly make a case for finding room for Cooper or Crabtree.
Let’s take a look at some of this week’s other chalk selections by position, as well as some options that make sense if you’re looking to shake things up.
QB Tom Brady, $7,700
It’s a toss-up for the clear chalk at quarterback between Brady and Ben Roethlisberger, but we’ll give the edge to Brady due to the Patriots playing at home. As expected, he came out like a man possessed last week, and he offered up a stellar return. No guarantees he can do that two weeks in a row, but he certainly looked dialed in for Week 5. There’s no clear reason to fade him outside of uniqueness, but you’ll be competing with a bunch of other Brady enthusiasts in Week 6 to see which one can put together the perfect combo.
Those looking to shake things up at quarterback will want to explore saving some money at the position, as the top four options are the clear-cut chalk selections for the week. If we head down south past the $7,000 barrier, we find Russell Wilson nestled in at a price of $6,900. Despite their hot start, the Falcons have surrendered a plethora of points to opposing quarterbacks, so Wilson’s an appealing option that will be less popular than the aforementioned chalk.
RB LeSean McCoy, $6,900
The Bills have successfully righted the ship, and they’re riding a three-game winning streak into Sunday’s tilt against the 49ers. The matchup is not inspiring a ton of fear among DFSers, and it’s being viewed as a particularly appealing matchup for McCoy. We’ll wholeheartedly agree, and place a clear buy signal on McCoy for Week 6. Barring the 49ers suddenly improving on their cross country flight, it shapes up to be a productive day for him.
If you wish to go against the grain, and/or fall in the camp of those who believes this is a fool’s gold matchup, you can save a little coin and look to Lamar Miller at $6,600. The Colts run defense has settled down a bit since performing like a colander in Week 1 against the Lions, but they can still be had by a talented back such as Miller.
WR Antonio Brown, $10,000
Brown is the most expensive player of Week 6 by a wide margin, but enthusiasm will not be tempered all that much. He has an appealing matchup on the table against the Dolphins, and there’s plenty of ways to fit him in by seeking out value plays elsewhere. We all know the upside that Brown brings to the table, but he’s also only busted through the 30-point threshold once this season. A failure to achieve that number this week will lead to a lot of wasted salary cap dollars, so you can certainly consider fading Brown, while keeping your fingers crossed that he doesn’t explode and touch 40 points.
There’s cheaper options galore at wide receiver, and you can still gain exposure to the Steelers passing attack by looking to the much more affordable Sammie Coates, who checks in at an incredibly reasonable price of $4,700.
TE Delanie Walker, $5,500
The Browns are challenged in general, but they’ve been particularly challenged in their defense of opposing tight ends over the past two games. Five trips to the end zone later, and tight ends facing off against the Browns are squarely on the radar as viable selections. When it happens to be one of the more highly-targeted tight ends in the league, DFSers find themselves fully engaged. Walker looks like one of the top plays of the week, and there’s no glaring reason to fade him outside of differentiation purposes. You can save a little money and look towards Travis Kelce or Jimmy Graham, but Walker has more multiple-TD upside in Week 6.
D Buffalo Bills $3,700
The Bills stellar play of late has coincided with a rise in productivity from the defensive side of the ball, and they look to be in a great spot to have that continue against the 49ers. The masses will flock to the Bills this week, and rightfully so based on recent events, and the strength of their opponent. While defense is a great spot to employ some contrarian thinking, there are also weeks when you should just bite the bullet and play the chalk. That was the case last week with the Vikings, and it looks to be the case again in Week 6. For those interested in a little uniqueness, you can look to the Steelers at $3,400, as they’re facing off with a Dolphins squad that has allowed some big games to opposing defenses.
Thanks for reading The Chalk for Week 6. 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.