It’s hard to believe we are already more than halfway through the regular season, but here we sit with Week 9 straight ahead. Week 8 was one that many would like to look past and move on from, as there were a number of landmines that obliterated otherwise sound lineups.
We’ll dust ourselves off and take it for what it was - just one week in the long march through the NFL season. There’s always somewhat of a correction week where things seem to go haywire, but it’s important to stay focused and view it for what it was. There's no need to rip all of your plans up and start from scratch, as a tried and true process will more than balance things out for you in the long run.
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 9.
Chalk Game Of The Week
Indianapolis Colts @ Green Bay Packers
The week’s highest projected total comes from the tilt at Lambeau Field between the Colts and the Packers, and there’s a lot to love from a fantasy perspective. Both squads passing attacks should be front and center in this one, and either Aaron Rodgers or Andrew Luck look to be fine anchors for your DraftKings lineups.
On the target front, we’re always pretty enthusiastic for Jordy Nelson in front of his home crowd, and we’ll have to keep an eye on whether or not Randall Cobb will be a full go. There’s questions about T.Y. Hilton for this week as well, which could make Donte Moncrief make a more appealing option. In short, we’ll keep our eyes glued to the injury reports, but there’s plenty of value in the passing game targets.
Other options worth mentioning include Jack Doyle and Davante Adams, both of whom have delivered some nice games in 2016. Ty Montgomery should handle the bulk of the workload in the Packers backfield if he’s good to go, but many DFSers may be hesitant to go back to that well after being severely burned by his late scratch last week. Frank Gore offers up consistent production, but his ceiling is likely limited in a game in which the Colts are projected to be coming from behind.
Other Games Attracting A Ton Of Interest
New Orleans Saints @ San Francisco 49ers. The interest is pretty lopsided in this one, as the big attraction is clearly the Saints passing attack. Drew Brees, Brandin Cooks and Michael Thomas are all viable plays, while Willie Snead is out there for some potential contrarian exposure. The upside is always there for Coby Fleener, but we have yet to see the consistency for him to be a reliable play. The Saints backfield appears headed to RBBC land between Mark Ingram and Tim Hightower, and we’d lean towards Hightower at the moment for a contrarian running back.
For the 49ers, there is some interest in Colin Kaepernick, but the main attraction comes from the upside he offers on the ground, as he has done little to impress through the air since assuming the reins. The running game for the 49ers would be more attractive if there was some clarity, but it sounds like Carlos Hyde is still banged up, and there’s no clarity on who sees the bulk of the work if he sits.
Tennessee Titans @ San Diego Chargers. The running games for the respective clubs will receive their fair share of interest, with Melvin Gordon leading the way. Demarco Murray is also a solid option, but there’s some rumblings that Derrick Henry may start seeing some more work. We’ll consider Gordon the safer option, and look towards Murray if the chatter over Henry dies down.
The signal callers are both intriguing, but there's likely better options to be had in Week 9. The same goes for the passing game targets, but there could be some intriguing value plays on the Chargers side depending on how the final injury reports shake out.
Matchups The Masses Are Attracted To
When we’re trying to determine the chalk on a weekly basis, one good place to look for clues is in the individual matchups. There’s some every week that leave the masses salivating, and that tends to boost those players ownership percentages up substantially. Let’s take a look at a few of those situations for Week 9.
Aaron Rodgers vs. Indianapolis Colts. We touched on this matchup briefly, but it’s worth mentioning again. A signal caller from the highest projected scoring game of the week is facing off against a club that has consistently struggled against the position in 2016. We can book Rodgers for a healthy ownership percentage as a result of those facts, and we’ll also view him as one of the week’s top plays.
Ezekiel Elliott vs. Cleveland Browns. Elliott is producing at a phenomenal level, and he gets the privilege of facing off against one of the poorer squads in the league. As a result, he’ll be an extremely popular selection at running back. There’s no valid reason to fade him, and there’s a very real possibility of a monster outing on the table in front of him. We’ll recommend rostering Elliott with confidence, and look for some uniqueness for your lineups elsewhere.
Antonio Brown vs. Baltimore Ravens. This one hinges on the health of Ben Roethlisberger, but we can expect interest to be high in Brown if he can give it a go. He’s a little too pricey to count on without that coming to fruition, and he’s actually only busted the 30+ point plateau once this season. That being said, the upside potential makes the masses keep coming back for more. From our perspective, there may be more bang for your buck elsewhere, but we also wouldn’t completely talk you out of rostering Brown.
Last Week’s Heroes
Another great place to determine where interest will be high is by taking a gander back at some of last week’s top performers. Many DFSers will look for the good times to continue rolling, and there’s definitely something to be said for striking while the iron’s hot. Here’s a couple of last week’s standouts that people will be checking out this week.
QB Derek Carr. This one’s a bit unique, as we have a player coming in off a phenomenal performance that will be facing off with a top defensive squad. Carr was electric last week, but it would be foolish to expect a repeat of 500+ yards and four touchdowns against the Broncos. On the other hand, it’s hard to see the Broncos completely shutting him down in front of what should be an amped up Oakland crowd for a Sunday Night tilt. We’ll look for enthusiasm to be tempered for Carr this week, but we’ll definitely keep him on the radar as an interesting contrarian option.
RB Jonathan Stewart. Stewart has four trips to the end zone to his credit over the past two weeks, but he may be overlooked on the ownership front when all is said and done. He has a tough matchup on paper against the Rams rushing defense, and there’s some pretty appealing options on both ends of the salary spectrum. We’ll consider him a solid play for Week 9, but not quite in the must play category.
TE Travis Kelce. Kelce delivered one of those games that we all know he’s capable of last week, but those games are few and far between thanks to the dormant state of the Chiefs passing attack. Nick Foles gets the start this week due to Alex Smith being ruled out, so it’ll be interesting to see if there’s any kind of spark as a result. Kelce is an immense talent that can explode at a moment’s notice, but he’s a little pricey in relation to the risk involved.
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 Andrew Luck, $6,700. Luck is attractively priced and headed into a potential shootout in which the Colts are projected to be coming from behind. We can lock him in for some nice value, and he’ll have a healthy ownership percentage to match his potential upside for this matchup. There’s no glaring reason to look past him outside of uniqueness, and we’ll strongly recommend him for your single lineup shortlists, and he definitely should occupy a spot for the multi-lineup folks.
If you’re looking to pivot, you can take a look at Drew Brees for a little more money, or consider Dak Prescott to save some funds. Both players offer similar upside to Luck this week, but they’ll likely have their fair share of supporters as well. There’s plenty of options from a contrarian perspective at a lower price point, including Colin Kaepernick and Joe Flacco, but it looks like a good week to pony up at signal caller.
RB Ezekiel Elliott, $7,900. The priciest running back of the week is playing at an incredibly high level, and he has a potentially fruitful matchup coming down the pike. Despite the hefty price tag, we’ll look for interest in Elliott to be high this week. We’ll share the enthusiasm, and look for the necessary differentiation in our lineups elsewhere.
If you’re looking to fade Elliott, you can save a ton of money at the position in Week 9. That’s always an appealing prospect, and Melvin Gordon and Devontae Booker are two of the more intriguing names a little further south on the salary chart.
WR Jordy Nelson, $7,800. The most popular wide receiver for Week 9 is a little tough to figure, but we’ll look for the masses to view it as a good week to save a little money from the expensive options of Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr. The next name up on the list is Nelson, and he just so happens to be playing in the chalk game of the week. He makes for a solid play, and there’s plenty other spots you can pick out to find some uniqueness.
There’s plenty of interesting pivots in the same neighborhood of salary, including Brandin Cooks and Dez Bryant. There’s enough value out there this week - and every week for that matter - that you should have little trouble fitting in a couple of your top choices at wide receiver.
TE Kyle Rudolph, $4,000. While Kelce is coming in off of an impressive performance, we’ll look for the masses to go back to the well with Rudolph at a more appealing price. He disappointed along with the rest of the Vikings on Monday Night against the Bears, but he’s in a good spot for a bounce back against the Lions.
The pickings are a little slim at tight end this week, but we can still find some viable options if Rudolph’s not your cup of tea. Dennis Pitta has been pretty disappointing of late, but he’s still seeing plenty of targets. If he starts hauling in a few more, he quickly becomes an appealing option. Another interesting option comes from the same game as Rudolph in the form of Eric Ebron. He was targeted 10 times last week, and he managed to snag seven of them for 79 yards.
D Kansas City Chiefs, $3,500. The Chiefs are a pretty large favorite playing at home against a currently offensively-challenged squad, so that portends a pretty high ownership percentage in Week 9. They also happen to be riding a three game streak of double-digits in points, and there’s a pretty good chance that they can make it four in a row.
Week 9 looks like a week in which it makes sense to pay up at defense, and there’s a couple of other appealing options outside of the Chiefs. The Cowboys and Panthers are at similar price points, and both clubs are facing off against teams that can be forced into some turnovers.
Thanks for reading The Chalk for Week 9. 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.