Last week is a great example of what happens to my general strategy when the chalk smashes. My strategy loses. It loses very badly. In fact, it loses so badly you kinda lean your head to the side and look at me and wonder how on Earth I ever won so much money playing DFS in the first place.
I was on Alexander Mattison at almost a similar amount as everyone else and sure enough Mattison smashed. However, pretty much all of my pivots and chalk fades were disastrous. Davante Adams was 40% owned in the $4k entry DraftKings milly-maker, and DeAndre Hopkins was about 9% rostered. My personal ownership was flipped, with about 40% or so on Nuk and just 1 out of my 12 or so lineups having Adams. Hopkins actually did okay with about 20 DK points, but Adams absolutely smashed by accruing over 40 DK points. That type of a situation is just a recipe for disaster.
I can sit around and complain. I can get scared and focus on playing more chalk. After all, there are plenty of DFS megapros that do play a lot of chalk and have done quite well. But it's not my style and probably won't ever be.
This week, I'm differing against the public in a few key areas. If I'm wrong, I'll get spanked silly again. If I'm right, well… you know what could happen.
After Mattison smashed last week, everyone is looking to Kareem Hunt to be this week's Mattison. A running back that catches passes with the main guy out on a team that runs the football? He's going to have 30+ fantasy points for sure!
This is the sort of trend and thought process I love to fade. Similar to when the DFS community loved to just stack the highest over/under game because the 53-point over/under went for 70+ two weeks in a row, we're all now forcing Hunt into our lineups since we just think this is Mattison all over again. I have a few reasons to think otherwise.
First, it's football. Variance happens. Mattison could have dudded out. Hunt may just dud out. It happens. The Cardinals are good. Maybe he just won't produce that much.
Second, looking at the splits last year when Chubb was out via our NFL Splits Tool, Hunt doesn't turn into a three-down running back and get all of the snaps and targets. It seems it results in about six more carries for Hunt, but he still gets the same amount of targets per game. It's likely a result of him being used on first and second down but now sometimes being subbed out on third down for Demetric Felton or D'Ernest Johnson (Johnson got play when Chubb was out last year).
Dalvin Cook is an $8-$9k type of DFS salary guy and Mattison was priced $5500-$6500, so it was kind of like getting $2000-$3000 of savings using Mattison last week. Chubb and Hunt are generally just about $1k apart. That's how I view this. Yes, of course Hunt's projection goes up, but you're getting maybe $500-$1000 of value, not $4k. You don't merge Hunt's and Chubb's prices into a super-Hunt.
In the higher stakes GPP's where I like to roam, Hunt could easily be 50%+ rostered this week. I'll have him maybe 10-15% or so (maybe less), mainly as part of Browns-Cardinals game stacks. If he goes off for 30+ like Mattison, I'll probably be a little bit poorer Sunday night. There's just so many other running backs I'd like to play. Let's talk about them some more.
Other Low-Priced Chalk Running Backs
Hunt isn't the only chalk running back this week. With Clyde Edwards-Helaire injured, Darrell Williams presents great value. It's the Chiefs, which is first and foremost Patrick Mahomes' team, so you can only expect Williams to do so much. Like my Mattison-Cook analysis, Williams isn't priced much cheaper than CEH is normally, so it isn't a huge discount. I'll have some Williams, probably similar to the public. This just isn’t an area in which I'm looking to take a stand.
I think people will also look to Khalil Herbert for salary relief. Whatever. He’s the third-string guy on the Bears who doesn't seem to catch passes (they'll use Ryan Nall for that, it's the only thing he's good for). I'll pass. I'll have him a little, around 10% or less. I'll probably have more Devontae Booker since he'll be a 75%+ snap count guy. But it's Devontae Booker and it's the New York Giants, so I won't be exactly looking to get him in a ton of my lineups.
Darrell Henderson isn't exactly lowly-priced, but he'll round out the moderately-priced chalk running backs. I like Henderson quite a bit and will have plenty of him. I'll probably roster him as much as or more than the public. He's the clear lead back on the Rams, and he's used quite frequently. He's not going to be the reason I differentiate my lineups much, but I view him as a solid play.
High-Priced, Low-Owned Running Back Strategy
I think this is one of the few weeks in which you'll see a lot of high-priced running backs with sub-10% ownership. No one wants to roster Dalvin Cook or Aaron Jones. These are guys that can catch passes and have 3 TD-type games and really break a slate. I'll have plenty of them both.
There are clear reasons players don't want to use those two. Cook is coming off of an injury, though he has no injury designation so he's probably just fine and a full go. That scary top-against-the-run Carolina defense you may see on FanDuel or wherever is pretty meaningless this early in the season, especially against a top-tier guy like Cook. Aaron Jones has had a string of touchdownless games after going for 3 earlier in the season. None of these seem like good enough reasons to fade these two players, giving me all the more reason to stock up on them in my lineups.
We all just saw what Mattison did to the Lions defense. I think Joe Mixon can do something similar this week. They say he's going to get his usual amount of work, so there's no reason to think he can't have a 25+ fantasy point game. I won't have a ton of him, but I'll aim to use him more than the field.
Chuba Hubbard isn't exactly high-priced and he'll receive some ownership, but I'll aim to have more of him than the public. He seems like he's in line for 70%+ snaps and a good handful of targets in addition to carries. He hasn't had a touchdown yet these past two games. Perhaps it's time to regress and get some TDs?
In short, if Kareem Hunt does a Mattison, it'll be a tough birthday weekend for TwoGun. The TwoGun Truthers will sit around and shake their heads wondering why they continue to even read my articles. However, if Dalvin Cook or Aaron Jones break the slate, which they can easily do (think Derrick Henry week 2), then I'll have a much easier path to taking down some GPPs.
Other Core Plays
A lot of my contrarian focus this week is on running backs, but there are several pass-catchers I like - including some with low ownership.
The public liked Odell Beckham two weeks ago, and he was a bust. I liked him last week, and he did nothing. I watched and saw David Njoku put on a clinic for 149 yards and a touchdown. This all occurred despite OBJ being out there for more snaps than any other wide receiver, and his main competition for targets remains Njoku, Rashard Higgins, and Donovan Peoples-Jones.
Is the simple explanation that OBJ is dust and that the Browns just run him out there for all of those snaps to troll TwoGun? Probably. I'll keep falling for the bait though this week. Actually, he's probably the player I roster the most versus the public.
His low price makes him a great core play to help pay up for those under-owned expensive running backs I just talked about. Remember how I kept pressing how much I like Marquez Callaway, and he didn't do anything? Did you also see how he went off for 85 yards and two touchdowns last week? It wouldn't have mattered if I played him since I got beaten so badly on DraftKings and FanDuel, but it's a good example how the blowup game eventually comes for wide receivers. It's just a matter of patience.
Still going down with the ship. Still using him more than the other high-priced chalkier wide receivers. It's my birthday weekend. Maybe it'll finally work.
He had multiple targets in the end zone last week, but he wasn't able to connect. His stat line was still good enough to make value at $2600 on DraftKings. With a bump to $3000, he is still an amazing value there. At $5000 on FanDuel, he’s okay but not amazing, and I like him on SuperDraft as well. He's pretty much just taking over the Logan Thomas role. I'll continue to roster him a lot this week.
Jakobi Meyers and Michael Pittman
They're similarly priced and are a little chalky. I like them both from a pure dollar-to-value standpoint, and they help me fit in high-priced running backs. Meyers is way overdue for a touchdown, and Pittman has cemented himself as the top wide receiver on the Colts.
Here we go. Another player you probably don't want to hear me tout. I really like to have some Justin Fields exposure this week. Talk about a hated player. People are rushing to roster a third-string running back instead of the future of the Bears offense and his top wide receiver. That's how much this guy went from loved to hated. I won't have a ton of Robinson or Fields, but it's easy to get leverage on these guys versus the field. It also helps fit in those high-priced running backs I keep talking about.