Selecting our DFS line-ups can be tricky at the best of times, but the top echelon of fantasy players will also consider the selection choices of rivals.

Ownership strategy and understanding how to handle the ‘chalk’ are keys to success in daily fantasy sports, so let’s take a closer look at this in today’s DFS strategy article.


Chalk is a term that is attached to the ownership percentage of players on a particular DFS slate. More specifically, a player is deemed to be ‘chalky’ if they are selected by a high percentage of the entries on a slate.

For example, if Patrick Cripps garners more than 50% ownership in an AFL contest, then he would be considered ‘chalk’.

The question is, how do we identify, and then handle, chalky players?


Player ownership percentages are determined by a host of variables that differ across sports.

On a general level, some of the main variables include player form, strong history at the match venue, strong history vs opponent, popularity (often reserved for studs) and perceived value based on salary.

Perceived value is a point that deserves to be broken down. The salary element of DFS has a massive bearing on how users build their line-ups, as maximising value for money is a key imperative.

Players are often deemed to be undervalued when they are returning from injury, the pricing formula has not kept up with their form, they are expected to perform well on debut, or they are expected to assume a more fantasy-friendly role.


Some players are more highly owned than others in DFS… so what?

Chalk may not be an overly relevant concept in H2H and RapidFire contests, but it has a massive influence on strategy for GPP (Guaranteed Prize Pool) contests.

In these games, it can be very difficult to find the edge, with such fine margins between winning big and going home empty-handed.

As such, ‘Point of Difference’ selections become vital. While chalk picks are often popular for very good reasons, if everyone selects the same line-ups, then nobody claims the jackpot.

In order to set yourself apart from thousands of other entries, sometimes you need to take a risk and fade the chalk. In other words, turn down selecting a player that will likely be highly owned in order to gain significant leverage should that player perform poorly.

For example, if Christian Petracca is selected by 50% of teams in an AFL contest and you fade him, a sub-par score from the Melbourne superstar will put your line-ups in a great position to rocket up the leaderboards.

Another way to differentiate is to pick players that you predict will have low ownership. In an AFL contest, this means looking for players who will generate less than 10% ownership.

If one of these players explodes with a huge performance, the pool of DFS users that selected them will be in the best position to fight for the big prizes.

That being said, your relationship with chalk as a DFS user will depend on your goals. If you want consistency, then chalk selections will feature more prominently in your line-ups. Conversely, if you’re chasing GPP glory, then fading chalk is the best play as it gives you a better chance of beating the masses.


Considering the pros and cons associated with different ownership strategies in DFS, it’s fair to say that the best DFS players are those who are able to sort the good chalk from the bad chalk.

So, how can we do that?

In terms of bad chalk, there are some warning signs to look out for. Taking the example of AFL contests, minimum-priced first gamers are often among the most chalky players.

These players are always huge risks, as they have no experience at the top level and often aren’t ready to make the step up. There’s a lot of unknowns about them.

Furthermore, it’s always unclear exactly what role those players will assume for their team.

Experienced players returning from injury with lower salaries are also very popular. In this case, buyers beware as a freshly healed body can be prone to breaking down again.

Big names are usually more popular than their less celebrated counterparts, so picking a couple of studs that fly under the radar can also be a great way of avoiding excessive chalk in your line-ups.

However, the ‘best of the best’ stars of their sport are generally good chalk – players you can rely on who won’t come back to bite you if they go unselected.

Speaking of good chalk, it’s also worth biting the bullet for players who are clearly mispriced, are on a hot run of form, or appear to have a favourable matchup.


Ownership strategy is a key facet of DFS, but it’s hardly a settled science.

Risk vs reward is the backbone of decision-making in DFS and that’s no different with ownership strategy.

Nevertheless, using concepts such as ‘chalk’ to your advantage can help you to make more calculated choices in selecting your line-ups, leading to a more enjoyable DFS experience.

If you can avoid the bad chalk, follow the crowd when required and differentiate successfully, then DFS becomes far more exciting!

For more great DFS strategy and tips, head to Daily Fantasy Rankings

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