Lex Miraglia takes a look under the hood of the Underdog Battle Royale tournament: identifying what works, what doesn’t, and what provides our best path to first place in this top-heavy, but ultra-soft tourney.
The goal of this article is to present you with information and strategy about a different-style DFS tournament that is currently filled with an inexperienced field of entrants. Due to Underdog’s main customer base of Best Ball players, there are many people approaching this tournament in a suboptimal way. So let’s take advantage!
Battle Royale is Underdog’s main slate tournament offered each week. You and five others participate in a six-round draft, selecting a QB, RB, 2 WR, FLEX, and TE from Sunday’s games (SNF no longer included). Your final roster then competes with every entry in the tournament, not just your fellow drafters, for the highest score of the week.
Typically a $5 entry fee for the weekly main tournament.
After a $20K prize the first couple weeks, 1st place has been $12K every week since.
This is a daily fantasy tournament! Right now the edge is that too many players are still treating drafts like season-long teams instead of one-week teams. This article will explore how to think correctly about drafting in this format.
Here we take a look at the five highest-scoring lineups from Week 9, how they were constructed, what we can learn from them, and the most important concepts to keep in mind when drafting a team.
On the lowest scoring week of the season by far, we saw more correlation in the top-five than there has been in a while. Every roster had a QB-WR stack (one including a bring-back), and three utilized opposing RBs from CIN-CLE (the two highest scoring flex players of the week). With so little scoring, it was vital to have strong stacks as Lamar-Hollywood and Herbert-Keenan were the two highest scoring QBs with the two highest-scoring WRs (of those being drafted). The two highest scoring RBs both happened to come from the same game, and with Mixon at least carrying a pass game role in the case that CIN falls behind, they can both succeed in the specific game environment that benefits Chubb (which is what happened).
Most appearances by one player in top-five each week:
Tracking frequency of stacks:
Two RBs have been drafted on 32 of 45 top-5 lineups, and 7 of the 13 three WR lineups came in Weeks 6 & 7. WRs carry a higher ceiling and it’s possible three WRs will be drafted on the highest-scoring teams as the field gets sharper, but with the Half-PPR and no bonuses combined with a relatively softer field, the bankable production of the two RB strategy has been more successful overall through nine weeks. The majority of the most successful rosters in the first half of the season have rostered two of the highest projected RBs, one of the highest projected WRs, and one of the WRs outside of the top projected guys.
Just four of the top 35 teams over the first seven weeks failed to combine for at least 10 TDs (9, 9, 9, 8). Over the last two weeks, only two of the top 10 teams have reached 10 TDs due to lower scoring all around. 23 of 45 teams have scored 11+ TDs. 13 of 45 teams have scored 13+ TDs. In Half-PPR with no bonuses, TD equity is an extremely valuable commodity.
I am going to keep banging this drum: “Recency bias is going to keep playing a role in ADP of these drafts. So, certain guys that have underperformed against expectations recently are likely to keep slipping to the ends of drafts. Keep this in mind when drafting, because you likely don’t have to go “way off the board” to seek upside, but rather try to find it in guys we still expect big things from, but for whatever reason, they haven’t had their big game yet.”
Based on UD’s projections, these are the players most likely to be drafted in the first round (meaning majority of the time you will only end up with one of them): Najee Harris, Jonathan Taylor, Austin Ekeler, Dalvin Cook, Christian McCaffrey, Davante Adams, Josh Allen
TEs: No Kelce, Waller, Mark Andrews, George Kittle, Mike Gesicki. This significantly raises the value of Kyle Pitts & TJ Hockenson at the top, and then Dallas Goedert, Noah Fant, & Dalton Schultz in the next tier. One of the top guys failing opens it up to someone like Dan Arnold, Tyler Conklin, Hunter Henry, etc. making it onto a top roster, but the ceilings of Pitts & Hock stand out far above the rest here.
RBs that get goal-line work, have high touch expectations, are used in the passing game, and are facing defenses allowing tons of RB production:
Najee, Dalvin, Taylor, Ekeler; Kamara + Ezekiel Elliott have health questions
RBs that lack just one of the above criteria:
CMC (matchup), Aaron Jones (touches), Cordarelle Patterson (touches), James Conner (matchup), Leonard Fournette (matchup), Deandre Swift (matchup), Melvin Gordon (touches), De’Ernest Johnson (dependent on Chubb)
WRs outside the top-12 projected who could conceivably end up on top-scoring rosters:
Amari Cooper (DAL implied for 32), Tyler Lockett (Russ Wilson back), Adam Thielen (strong game environment vs LAC, may still be down CBs), Mike Williams (role trending down, but we’ve seen massive upside this year), Jerry Jeudy (best matchup of DEN WRs), Julio Jones
WRs that stand out above the field: Davante Adams (Rodgers back) & Mike Evans (maybe only main TB WR healthy)
Notable QBs missing: Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Matthew Stafford, Derek Carr
Notable QBs currently outside top-6 projections: Russell Wilson vs GB, Carson Wentz vs JAC, Matt Ryan vs DAL, Taysom Hill vs TEN (if named starter), Aaron Rodgers (currently still OUT)
Top stacks: Brady-Evans, Dak/Ryan-Pitts, Rodgers-Adams/Jones, Herbert-Ekeler/Dalvin/JJ
Stay on the lookout for guys with high ceilings that are being overlooked by the field, but don’t go so far off the board you roster players without top-5 ceilings at their positions.