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Battle Royale Primer

Underdog’s Battle Royale Primer

Underdog’s Battle Royale contest has already grown significantly from 2021 to 2022, and with the app only getting more popular across all sports, we should expect to see even bigger contests in 2023. With just two seasons so far of this format (meaning only 36 total of these main weekly contests), strategies are still unfolding and the data we have available is minimal. As someone who has had entries in all 36 contests, I used the top of the leaderboards to compile data on all of the top 5 rosters that we can use to our advantage.

This article will break down the different positions (QB, RB, WR, TE) with information about the successful lineups regarding lineup construction and performance. Some places will have data stretching to the top 5 rosters, and some will only focus on the 1st place teams. Strategy is constantly fluid in a game and sport with such small sample sizes but we should always use the information we have available to better our process. My hope is that by the end, you will have a better grasp on the contest than the average player starting Week 1, 2023.

Full Roster (1 QB, 1 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 1 FLEX):

First-place performance across the 36 contests (measured by fantasy points scored)

  • Average: 156.8
  • Median: 154.6
  • Lowest: 127.4
  • Highest: 190.4
Quarterback:

First-place performance across the 36 contests (measured by fantasy points scored)

  • Average: 32.6
  • Median: 32.4
  • Lowest: 24.1
  • Highest: 42.8

You need to draft your QB with the expectation that they can score 30 points and then consider how that particular QB could achieve that score.

  • Of the 90 QBs on a top 5 roster in 2022, 59 scored 4+ TDs, and most of the rest did heavy scoring on the ground
  • Ex: Justin Fields and Jalen Hurts are more likely to score large amounts on the ground in their 30-point games. As a result, these QBs generally get drafted earlier, thus making stacking more difficult and less necessary.
  • Ex: Kirk Cousins and Tua Tagovailoa are more likely to need over 300 pass yards and 4 TDs in their 30-point games. It’s almost certain they will reach this score alongside a high-scoring stacking partner, making it a stronger bet to attach them to a teammate. These QBs generally get drafted later, making stacking more feasible.

Does Vegas project a game environment in which 4-5 TDs is a reasonable outcome?

  • While skill players can achieve high fantasy scores even if their team doesn’t put up a ton of points, a typical QB is not going to reach 30 fantasy points without their team scoring at least 28 points.
  • Trailing game environments can lead to extra attempts and yards (which can sometimes benefit pass catchers), but there’s no 300-yard bonus here and touchdowns make all the difference.
  • Ex: The game scores of Josh Allen’s five highest 2022 fantasy scores: 38-3, 32-29, 31-10, 28-25, 41-7
    • Competitive game environments are always going to be essential for driving up fantasy production on both sides, but it’s also important to know which offenses are capable of scoring the necessary points. Two lower-scoring teams in a more competitive game don’t necessarily make for a better environment than an elite offense against a weak team, especially when it comes to QB fantasy production.
    • If it’s a blowout, that still means one team scored a lot of points. As you can see in this example, Josh Allen put up massive scores in 3 wildly uncompetitive games.

When are QBs most frequently getting selected in these contests?

  • The three most common draft rounds for QBs across the 90 top 5 rosters in 2022 are as follows:
    • Round 1, 22 QBs (Typically Hurts, Mahomes, Allen)
    • Round 3, 26 QBs (Typically Lamar, Burrow)
    • Round 6, 28 QBs (Pocket QBs, pre-breakout QBs, injury report QBs)
  • Round 1 QBs are the studs that often get selected at the cost of their high-priced teammate (I.e. Travis Kelce, Stefon Diggs)
  • Round 3 QBs are usually the next-tier stars that pair with the higher drafted elite teammate (I.e. Burrow/Chase, Lamar/Andrews)
  • Round 6 QBs are the ones that fit with the roster already put together to complete a stack (I.e. Cousins with Jefferson/Hockenson, Tom Brady with Evans/Godwin)
  • It is important to keep in mind that this is always fluid based on which players are available each week (factoring injuries, byes, and primetime games), and certainly can change year to year

QB stacking (drafted with a stacking partner/total times in the top 5) for the most common top-scoring QBs:   2021 :: 2022 —> total

  • Josh Allen: 3/16 :: 7/11 —> 10/27
  • Joe Burrow: 8/8 :: 12/13 —> 20/21
  • Patrick Mahomes: 8/10 :: 8/9 —> 16/19
  • Lamar Jackson: 4/5 :: 9/10 —> 13/15
  • Tom Brady: 8/10 :: 5/5 —> 13/15
  • Jalen Hurts: 0/4 :: 9/12 —> 9/16
  • Justin Fields: 0/0 :: 4/12 —> 4/12
  • Matthew Stafford: 8/11 :: 0/0 —> 8/11
  • Justin Herbert: 6/6 :: 2/3 —> 8/9
Flex (1 RB, 2 WR, 1 FLEX):

First-place performance across the 36 contests (measured by fantasy points scored)

Here we are looking at the total score of the 4 Flex spots:

  • Average: 104.8 (26.2 / player)
  • Median: 104.2 (26.1 / player)
  • Lowest: 74.4 (18.6 / player)
  • Highest: 137.8 (34.5 / player)

Here we are looking at the lowest score and highest score of the 4 Flex spots:

  • Average, Low – High: 19.1 – 34
  • Median, Low – High: 18.7 – 32.2
  • Lowest, Low – High: 7.3 – 22.8
  • Highest, Low – High: 26.6 – 53.1

24 of the 36 teams had at least one flex player score 30+ half-PPR fantasy points

15 of the 36 teams had all flex players score at least 20+ half-PPR fantasy points

32 of the 36 teams had all flex player score at least 15+ half-PPR fantasy points

We can’t predict these high-end outcomes but we need to draft assuming our selected players are having this kind of production (and how that affects the other players). Placing 1st has essentially meant rostering no duds, at least one mega-stud, and multiple other studs. With no bonuses and only half-PPR, TDs are essential to this production.

  • Of the 90 top 5 rosters across 18 contests in 2022, the average TDs scored by the 4 Flex players and TE was 7.2 TDs.
  • We can’t predict TDs, which is why a player’s role, capability, and game environment are factors we try to account for.

How are most winning rosters using the FLEX spot?

  • Of the 180 top 5 rosters, 124 have had two RBs (68.9%), meaning they chose RB at FLEX over WR and TE.
  • The other 56 top 5 rosters all used WR at FLEX, meaning there was not a single roster to place top 5 using double TE.

With the nature of the contest being smaller rosters and no salaries, it is arguably even more important to have the highest-scoring players on the week than in traditional DFS. Most of the best teams in Battle Royale are going to have hit on the same 1-3 players to achieve the highest weekly score. Taking major stands on players can propel you to success in this contest when you are right.

  • In 30 of 36 weeks, there has been at least one WR/RB/TE to make all five top 5 rosters.
  • In 21 of 36 weeks, at least 2 WR/RB/TE made all five top 5 rosters
  • Number of times a WR/RB/TE has made all five top 5 rosters by position:
    • WR: 30
    • RB: 15
    • TE: 11
Tight End:

First-place performance across the 36 contests (measured by fantasy points scored)

  • Average: 19.4
  • Median: 18.3
  • Lowest: 3.4
  • Highest: 35.9

Some score benchmarks (an example stat-line for achieving those points):

  • 31/36 scored 12+ points (3-45-1)
  • 25/36 scored 15+ points (5-65-1)
  • 15/36 scored 20+ points (7-105-1 / 4-60-2)
  • At the very minimum, drafters should be looking for a path to at least 4-5 targets with red zone usage for any considered TE

Especially with a limited sample size, the TE data is more reflective of specific TEs and less of a discernible drafting pattern.

  • Of the 90 top 5 rosters across 18 contests in 2022, the drafting breakdown is as follows:
    • 24 TEs with RD 1-2 ADP (Kelce and Andrews)
    • 18 TEs with RD 3-4 ADP (George Kittle)
    • 48 TEs with RD 5-6 ADP (All the rest of the TEs)
  • So far there has been nearly a split between the times an “elite” TE or an “average” TE appeared on a winning roster (with a slight edge to the “average” (late) TEs)

Stacking and Correlation:

Stacking and game environment correlation across the 36 first-place rosters:

  • 21 of 36 had a QB paired with just one teammate
    • WR (16), TE (3), RB (2)
  • 4 of 36 had a QB stacked with two teammates
    • WR-RB (3), WR-WR (1)
  • 11 of 36 had Flex pairings on the same team
    • WR-RB (8), WR-TE (1), WR-WR (1), RB-TE (1)
  • 16 of 36 had one Flex player on both sides of a game (i.e. WR-Opp WR)
    • Just 4 of 16 also included a QB from the game (i.e. QB-WR-Opp WR)
  • 4 of 36 had three Flex players from the same game (i.e. WR-RB-Opp WR)
  • 35 of 36 had at least one game correlation
  • 13 of 36 had two different game correlations

Conclusion:

As has been the case with traditional DFS during its entire lifespan, there is no single strategy that holds true for the entire duration of the contest. The nature of football makes for incredibly small sample sizes, extreme variance, and significant changes from week to week and year to year. Reading through the data in this article is not meant to tell you what to do, but rather to help you better understand how success can be achieved in this contest. The more you understand about the kind of performances necessary to win this contest, the better you can adapt your draft strategy every week to the specific nature of the slate on deck.

With the growth of the contest heading into Year 3, placing 1st is only going to get more challenging. It is essential to keep in mind One Week Season’s philosophy of playing for first. It is not just about being right but rather what you achieve when you are right. A 100% owned 35-point game from Jalen Hurts is not going to be the reason you beat everyone else, but an undrafted 32-point game from Zay Jones might be. There will be injury situations throughout the season that affect the ADP of an elite player throughout the drafting week, thus creating opportunities for drafters who are willing to accept the risk. You have to put yourself in position to take advantage when things break your way.

Each week in my Battle Royale article, I will lay out the nature of the slate (I.e. which impactful players are missing, affecting ADP) and attempt to uncover some players that are going overlooked in the contest. This article will also continue to track the most successful rosters and attempt to understand the strategies behind them. I encourage anyone interested in trying the Battle Royale contest to check it out and use our OWS BR Discord channel to ask any questions. Let’s have a great season!