Anyone who has been playing DFS for some time has likely come across the phrases of ‘process over results’ or ‘trust your research.’ There’s a reason that those phrases get bandied about quite often: they happen to be very true for sustained long-term success in DFS. While there’s no denying the truth of both of those statements, the process and the research can mean very different things for different players - but those different players can all have their fair share of success.
Quite simply, there’s not a magic bullet that works for everybody. There’s certain principles that should definitely be incorporated into any weekly routine, but the research and the process is your own, and the same goes for what you make of it. It’s up to you to take ownership of it, tweak as needed, educate yourself where you may be lacking, and come up with the system that works for you.
Let’s take a look at two hypothetical players, starting with Player A. This player has a boatload of extra time on his hands, is quite analytical by nature, a whiz with spreadsheets, and able to build out a model that just may be able to launch a space shuttle if it’s slightly tweaked just so. Player A can analyze different scenarios quickly, and zero in on the optimal lineups quickly based on the model that he has spent time perfecting.
Player B is a little time-challenged, but he still loves playing DFS and is fascinated by the research. He has some key sources of information that he trusts, has narrowed down the stats that really matter to him, is very adept at spotting the right value plays for the week, and he has some keen instincts on the weekly matchups. Player B can blow through his process quickly, and he’s perfectly comfortable with it based on his time constraints.
The bottom line is that both Player A and Player B can find their fair share of success on a weekly basis. Both players may hit their rough patches along the way, and that’s when they would need to look at their system, search for potential leaks, and fine tune where necessary. The process may evolve slightly as they move forward, but they have assumed ownership of it. That sense of ownership provides them with clarity in their decision making, which is a key step towards a more enjoyable and profitable experience.
Let’s take a look at this week’s chalk selections, starting with a pair of games that are popping up on everybody’s radar.
Green Bay @ Atlanta
This game is front and center among the minds of DFSers this week, and for good reason. We have two top quarterbacks squaring off on a fast track, and as a result we have our highest projected point total of the week. Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan both look to be fantastic plays this week, and there’s no reason to look elsewhere if you’re sold on one as your top signal caller. Get them in your lineups and build your stacks at will, as you can look for differentiation elsewhere.
Jordy Nelson and Julio Jones top the list for stack targets, but we can also make a case for Randall Cobb on the Green Bay side. He was a limited participant in Thursday’s practice so we’ll need to keep a close eye on the injury reports. If he’s a go, he deserves a spot in our lineups at a very salary cap friendly price. The Falcons passing game targets have been a pretty big disappointment outside of Jones, and there’s no reason to rock the boat outside of from an extreme contrarian perspective.
Ty Montgomery and Davante Adams also deserve mention on the Packers side of the ball. Both players offered up nice returns last time out as the Packers offense finally got back on track, and Montgomery appears to be in line to still receive plenty of carries in the running game. Devonta Freeman should receive all the work he can handle in the Falcons backfield due to the injury to Tevin Coleman. He makes for a fine play despite the Packers having a strong run defense, and we can assume interest in him may be tempered due to that fact.
Kansas City @ Indianapolis
This matchup just edges out a few others from a chalk perspective, as the projected total is hovering around 50 points. The top options from the game are Spencer Ware for the Chiefs, and Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton on the Colts side. All three players make for fine plays, with Ware being the top choice and Hilton second. There’s a chance Donte Moncrief returns to action this week, but we’ll take a wait and see approach on that front and view him as a contrarian selection.
The Chiefs passing attack has left a ton to be desired in 2016. The running game remains the cog that makes the Chiefs engine go, so we’ll expect Ware’s ownership percentage to be pretty high - especially considering the fact that he’s facing off against a porous run defense. In the air, Jeremy Maclin has been a huge disappointment, and there’s nothing to suggest a breakout is around the corner. That being said, he’s incredibly affordable and in a good spot to produce, so perhaps this is the week he finally kicks it into gear.
Other options worth consideration include Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Frank Gore and Jack Doyle. Kelce may be a little too pricey due to the limitations of the Chiefs passing attack, but a huge game is not out of the question. He’s not a must play by any means, but he also shouldn’t be a lineup killer if you roll him out there. Hill’s intriguing for salary cap relief purposes. He doesn’t receive a ton of targets, but he’s found the end zone three times thus far.
Gore is steady on the production front and affordable, but he doesn't offer up the ceiling we're looking for in GPP lineups. Doyle was one of the top value plays of Week 7, and his salary has crept up by $1,000 after some nice production. He’s still affordable, but we’ll take a wait and see approach to see how things shake out on the Moncrief front. If Moncrief’s out, we’ll fire up Doyle at will. If the reverse scenario comes into play, Doyle is still a viable option, but we won’t be as excited about his prospects.
Let’s take a look at some of the week’s other chalk selections by position, starting with one of the signal callers from another high-interest game in New Orleans.
QB Russell Wilson, $7,200
Those that have been waiting for Wilson to get it going in 2016 are chomping at the bit for this matchup against the Saints. The matchup is always a potential fantasy bonanza for opposing signal callers, and Wilson certainly has the talents to take advantage of it. The problem lies with his current state of health, and that makes us slightly tap the brakes. If signs point to Wilson being back to full strength as game time approaches, go ahead and get him in your lineups, and feel free to pair him up with Doug Baldwin and Jimmy Graham - and you can even look to a power stack with all three players.
There’s several other strong matchups for quarterbacks on the board this week, so it’s not too hard to look elsewhere for similar potential. Rodgers and Ryan have already been mentioned, but for a slightly lower ownership percentage we can look over to Drew Brees. The matchup with the Seahawks will slightly temper enthusiasm levels on him, but he should still be able to produce enough in his home digs.
RB Devontae Booker, $3,700
It’s Booker time in the Broncos backfield, and this is a fantastic time to jump on him before his salary rises. Unfortunately, this information will not be flying under the radar, and his ownership percentage should approach astronomical levels. It’s not often that you can find a workhorse back in a run heavy offense at a bargain basement price, so we need to bite the bullet and look for our uniqueness elsewhere.
Rostering Booker allows you to roster another expensive back without issue, but if you’re really looking to shake things up by fading him, perhaps the right call would be to pay up for both running back spots. Christine Michael and Spencer Ware is one intriguing tag team, as is David Johnson and Devonta Freeman. You can also still look for a low-high mix by spending an extra $2,000 on Melvin Gordon III while saving some coin elsewhere on your roster.
WR Mike Evans, $8,100
Evans did not disappoint last week against the 49ers, and he has another tasty matchup the Raiders on his plate. His attributes include receiving a ton of targets, being a big threat in the red zone, and facing off against a team that can be beaten in the secondary. Evans looks like a fantastic play in Week 8, and there’s no pressing reason to fade him outside of ownership percentage.
There’s only Evans and Julio Jones at the $8,000 or more price point on the Sunday main slate at wide receiver, so we’ll look to save some money if we decide to pass on him. Options include looking to the opposing sideline for Amari Cooper, or looking in the direction of Brandon Marshall or Larry Fitzgerald, both of whom will be facing off with challenged secondaries.
TE Jimmy Graham, $6,100
It’s time for Jimmy Graham to take a stroll down narrative street for a return to New Orleans, and it’s not too hard to envision a scenario in which it’s a success. At a minimum, we can expect him to receive an extra red zone look or two, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see him catch one or two of them for old time’s sake. In spite of the fact that players will typically downplay the personal significance of a particular game, you can bet this one means a lot to Graham.
Coaches are also cognizant of this, and even though they’ll also downplay it, you can be assured that they spend some time drawing up an extra play or two. The adrenalin boost that a player receives while on narrative street is quite real, it just comes down to whether or not it’s channeled properly. In short, Graham’s a fine play this week, and an even better one if Wilson checks in with a clean bill of health. We can spend up to Rob Gronkowski or Greg Olsen if looking for a pivot, or choose from low-priced options such as Jack Doyle or Gary Barnidge.
D Denver Broncos, $3,700
There’s little reason for the Broncos defense not to be on your short list each and every week, but the unit has actually only delivered two double digit performances in 2016. While that’s slightly concerning for the highest priced defense of Sunday’s main slate, it also doesn’t deter us too much. We all know the potential upside, and we don’t want to be off of them on the week they go off. For pivots, we can look to the New York Jets or New England Patriots and save a little money.
Thanks for reading The Chalk for Week 8. 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.