Benny “The Eagle”, Vol. 14: Chalking Up Wins
Benny “The Eagle”: Vol.14 – Chalking Up Wins
Benny “The Eagle”: Vol. 1
Benny “The Eagle”: Vol. 2 – Having Second Thoughts
Benny “The Eagle”: Vol. 3 – The Used
Benny “The Eagle”: Vol. 4 – The Law of Diminishing Returns
Benny “The Eagle”: Vol. 5 – Something Smells Gamey
Benny “The Eagle”: Vol.6 – Going Around and Around with the Round Ball
Benny “The Eagle”: Vol.7 – Processing the Process
Benny “The Eagle”: Vol.8 – Match Game
Benny “The Eagle”: Vol.9 – Guess Who?
Benny “The Eagle”: Vol.10 – Risky Business
Benny “The Eagle”: Vol.11 – Playing the Field
Benny “The Eagle”: Vol.12 – Green Bars and High Scores
Benny “The Eagle”: Vol.13 – Lineup Full of Kryptonite
Like any community, the DFS world has it's only vernacular comprised of GOATs, fish, whales, sharks, overweight, and underweight designations. You'd swear we're some kind of agrarian society of carnivores. Or maybe we just all secretly long to be marine biologists. A lot of what gets discussed from night to night though are the “chalk” plays and fades. The term “chalk” in referring to expected high owned players developed from horse racing. The betting boards would have to constantly change as more bets came in to reflect who the favorites were and their odds to win. As such, the top picks were always written in chalk. Most often in DFS circles, chalk is a pejorative term used in reference to plays that appear to be high value, but that everyone will be on. As such, you have to make the decision whether to ride the wave that everyone will be on, or to intentionally take a contrarian stance and build lineups without that player to create leverage on the field.
Most nights, it's pretty easy to discern from Twitter and a cursory glance at a couple of DFS sites who the most highly owned plays of the night will be. The decision whether to fade or play a chalk play though, should most often come down to the type of player that is chalky and the type of contests you are playing.
Like I touched on in Vol.9, some NBA players have much more volatile production than others. There are nights, such as when one of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, or Kevin Love are out, when a very consistent performer becomes a chalk play because they will see increased usage due to the loss of a regular contributor. In that case the remaining one or two of the big three become chalk plays. They were already likely good plays, and then become great plays given the lineup circumstances.
In a situation like this, your decision to fade or not to fade should come down to the type of contests you are playing that night. In cash games, you have a lot more to lose than to gain by fading a consistent performer who's expected to be highly owned. The floor for their production is likely quite high and they have an increased projected ceiling due to their situation. If they have a floor game, it likely won't be awful and the majority of other lineups will be affected similarly. In a cash game situation in which you only have to be in the top half of scores to win, that kind of a disappointing performance is likely quite survivable. If, on the other hand, they reach their ceiling and you don't have them in your lineup, you are working from quite a hole for the rest of the night.
In GPPs on the other hand, fading a high-priced chalk play can be a great way to get leverage on the field in large contests. I won't go full “game theory” on you, but there are many good reasons to play sub-optimal projected lineups when multi-entering large tournaments as no projections are ever perfect. You may not want to completely eliminate a high owned and high projected from your player pool, but creating a few more lineups with slightly lower projected pivot players can help you gain places in the standings if the actual results skew against the chalk player. That's when variance plays in your favor.
The other, and quite different, scenario that plays out is the chalk player that is high owned and also highly volatile, but at a low price that makes them difficult to ignore for salary relief purposes. In cash games, I'd almost always take the chalk player in my cash game lineups. There are very few ways this can work against you in cash games. Take Brandon Knight from this past weekend as an example. In the cash games I was entered in, he was over 70% owned. That is an exceptionally high number in just about any slate. He was priced near the minimum on DraftKings and was given a large bump in playing time due to the absence of Eric Bledsoe. It seemed he would have a relatively high floor based on playing time alone given his increase in minutes, and his ceiling didn't really matter because his price was so minimal. It turned out his floor was 2 fantasy points. Two. That being said, I still swept my cash games that night because just about everyone else had him as well. You certainly would have had no shot at winning a GPP with him in your lineup, but you don't have to place at the top in cash games, you just have to be better than the median. It's a very rare occasion in which you should take a contrarian position in cash games. Don't be sneaky. Don't try to out think the room. You don't have to have a great lineup to win in cash games. You just have to be better than the other half of the lineups. In cash games, try to find your difference makers and leverage on the field elsewhere. Eat the chalk and say, thank-you, may I please have some more as you cough up a white cloud.
In GPPs you can make a case for or against just about any player on the board. When your goal is to be 1st out of 100,000 lineups it makes sense to take some risks. This is where fading the low priced value player chalk in favor of a more balanced salary lineup approach makes a lot of sense. If you have a 70%+ owned player in your lineup, you have very little to gain from a leverage perspective. If Brandon Knight had hit for 25 fantasy points 70% of lineups would have been no farther ahead than each other. For those that didn't have him, 7x is a great value, but 25 fantasy points is hardly an insurmountable hill to climb. High variance players like that, whose value is predicated on changing roles and increased minutes rather than skill set are often good fades in a GPP setting.
Chalk is great in cash games where you are building for most likely scenarios and essentially just trying to avoid awful performances. GPPs are built for the skeptic and those who want to watch the world burn as variance rears its head. There is a place for playing chalk without shame. Just know your chalk and know your contest type.
So, here's your 2016-2017 Bad Chalk All-Star Team
- Kyle O'Quinn – 4.75 fpts
How many disappointing and awful games can one guy really have and STILL have everyone coming back for more? With Joakim Noah pulling up lame more often than not this season, O'Quinn has had a number of opportunities to shine only to come up small or lose his playing time to Hernangomez. Yet, when he's not expected to do much, he'll show up with a 35 fpt effort. He doesn't like you and willfully hopes for your demise.
- Brandon Knight – 2 fpts
I've been over Knight here already. He's not a good player. The fact that the Suns got rid of Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas to make space for him is the reason that Phoenix just can't have nice things. His ceiling is not high even when he's starting and his floor is literally 1-2 fpts. Even Brandon Knight wouldn't play Brandon Knight on Brandon Knight chalk night.
- Derrick Rose – 0 fpts
Unlike his teammate Kyle, Derrick Rose just doesn't care about you. He can't even be bothered enough to tell his team he won't be there or to show up to the arena to disappoint you. He'll do his thing and put up 40 fpts when he feels like it. He's even good for 6x 34% of the time. When you're most relying on him though is when he'll go AWOL.
- Brandon Rush – 8.75 fpts
I kind of feel bad for Brandon Rush. It's not his fault he's Brandon Rush. People expected such big things of him when Zach LaVine's knee exploded. Thing is though, he's just Brandon Rush. It's not fair to hoist high expectations on him. The production has been disappointing, but it's not like his track record said he should have been counted on for more.
- The Entire November Dallas Mavericks
Sometimes when injuries come all at once, player rotations get tighter and production increases. Sometimes increased playing time doesn't matter when the matchup is bad and the players are worse. The night of November 18th, against the Memphis Grizzlies in which the Mavs struggles to get to 64 points with 23 of them in the 4th quarter taught me the lesson that you can't trust increased playing time to give you value unquestionably. Wesley Matthews, Justin Anderson, Dwight Powell, and Harrison Barnes were all unquestioned chalk that night. Every one of them was a bitter disappointment.
YOUR 2017 ANGST AND SADNESS ALL-STARS EVERYONE!
Entry fees this week:
Winnings this week:
Net this week: +$34.72
Bankroll: $346.88 (+$146.88 on the season)
A pretty low volume week, but that's what happens you're working full-time. I've been preaching a lot more lately making it difficult to fit in time for reasonable research and lineup construction, BUT making money is making money no matter how you make it. At least it's a positive ROI week and a continued profitable season. Given that I started knowing very little, I'm pretty happy being able to make even just a little. $35 dollars is enough to take the family out for dinner and that's alright by me.
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