Welcome to NFL DFS chalk or walk! This is an article that looks to identify popular plays and their viable pivots in DFS and season long contests. We will use projections to make assumptions about players' performances and find inefficiencies based on who the field values more.
This article is best used with the projections models here at Paydirt, but it will still be valuable even as a one off piece of content. While the focus is on Draftkings, the content is applicable to Fanduel as well. Costs, Projections, and ownership projections format will be Draftkings/Fanduel.
Popularity, leverage, and balance in DFS
- With no strict value on this slate, it’s going to cause a lot of spread out ownership and more spots to find relative value.
- Amon-Ra St.Brown should have all the volume he can handle, but CeeDee Lamb looks like a better play at much less ownership.
- Both Evan Engram and Greg Dulcich have strong projections for their price, but their ownership and range of outcomes distributions are wildly different.
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Current highest owned NFL DFS plays
The chalk will likely be spread out this week, as there are currently no significant values available. What this will lead to is the field being more diversified than normal since there are less plays that have large effects on total projections. As you can see above, Dameon Pierce is projected as the heaviest chalk at 33% owned followed by a considerable drop into the 15%-25% range.
Another point worth noting here is the lack of tight ends. More specifically, it’s the lack of Travis Kelce. He is the single most valuable tight end on the slate and the only elite option available. It seems the field is content to pay down while spending up at the position. Overall this represents a terrific opportunity to gain relative value based on positional scarcity and upside. Kelce should be a priority in GPPs where possible.
NFL DFS Popular plays and pivots for leverage
It’s vital to have a strong assessment of not only the popular plays but the viable pivots to them at their position and price. Here are some of the most important popular plays on the slate and a pivot you can make to gain leverage and relative value in tournaments:
Some of the tables used for the stats in this article:
- NFL Vegas implied totals and touchdown projections: https://paydirtdfs.com/nfl-vegas-implied-totals-and-touchdown-projections/
- League adjusted pass and rush rates: https://paydirtdfs.com/nfl-pass-and-rush-splits-league-wide/
- League adjusted redzone pass and rush rates: https://paydirtdfs.com/nfl-redzone-pass-and-rush-splits-league-wide/
- NFL Receiver research sheets: https://paydirtdfs.com/nfl-fantasy-receiving-research-sheets/
Wide Receivers: Amon-Ra St.Brown vs. CeeDee Lamb
Cost – $6,900/$6,900
Projection – 15.05/10.90
Ownership%: – 21.11%/23.58%
The popularity of ASB comes down to a presumably expanded role based on surrounding injuries. With no TJ Hockenson (traded to Vikings), Chark on IR, and Reynolds out with injury, there’s very little competition for volume on the Lions. He had 9 targets last week and has eclipsed that mark in five of the seven games he has played. However, that target volume has not lead to much upside. The first two weeks he scored 20+ fantasy points but has yet to pass 15 since. Likewise, the Lions offense is below average in adjusted pass rate, redzone pass rate, and aggressiveness. The floor is terrific for ASB, but his upside remains in question.
Cost – $7,000/$7,600
Projection – 19.98/13.78
Ownership%: – 8.99%/8.66%
For just about the same price as ASB you can land on CeeDee Lamb. While there are no big injuries leading to higher volume for Lamb, he has around the same targetshare as St.Brown. He has hit 8+ targets in six of his eight games played and 18+ fantasy points in three of them. Likewise, he has 90+ yards receiving in six of eight. Unlike Amon-Ra and the Lions, CeeDee has the benefit of an above average adjusted pass rate as well as above average aggressiveness on throws. Overall, you get a higher projection, similar volume, and a better game environment at less than half the ownership.
Tight Ends: Greg Dulcich vs. Evan Engram
Cost – $3,400/$5,900
Projection – 9.70/7.80
Ownership%: – 15.07%/8.80%
Dulcich comes into this week with a strong set of outings since coming back from IR. He has cleared 10 fantasy points in all three games. Likewise, he has a healthy 23%/17% split of the air yards and targets for the Broncos in those games. His price just hasn’t come up to match the workload, and because of the lack of value, optimizers will be all over him. While Denver has been average or below in adjusted pass rate and redzone pass rates, they are one of the most aggressive teams in the league at 8% above league average. In sum, there’s a lot of things to like about Dulcich in this spot and his ownership is justified.
Cost – $3.300/$4.900
Projection – 10.30/7.70
Ownership%: – 3.29%/7.55%
In the same price range for nearly a quarter of the ownership of Dulcich sits Engram. He has a similar profile, with four of his last five games pushing past 9+ fantasy points. Moreover, his split of air yards and targetshare sits around 26%/22% which is even stronger than Dulcich. However, the Jaguars offense is considerably less explosive. They are league average in pass rate and aggressiveness but are one of the least pass heavy teams in the league in the redzone. All of this leads to a much more narrow range of outcomes for Engram. Therefore, while you gain a lot of relative value pivoting off Dulcich here, the ceiling is likely less and more suitable for smaller field contests.
Other pivot situations to consider:
- Tua Tagovailoa (pivot) instead of Justin Fields (popular)
- Jonathan Taylor (pivot) instead of Alvin Kamara (popular)
- Justin Jefferson (pivot) instead of Tyreek Hill (popular)
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