Thursday, Sep 5th
Monday, Sep 9th

Underowned Underdog. 4.21.

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 & 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!

What is Battle Royale?

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, & TE from all of Sunday’s games (including SNF). Your final roster then competes with every entry in the tournament, not just your fellow drafters, for the highest score of the week.

Four tournaments have been offered in the first three weeks in this format, with entry fees of $5, $20, $5, $6, and top prizes of $20K, $20K, $5K, & $20K. Week 3 also had a $10 entry tournament with 12 drafters instead of six.

Week 4’s Battle Royale is a $5 entry, 13.8K entrant tournament with $12K to first place.

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.

Reviewing Underdog’s Battle Royale: Week 3

Here we take a look at the five highest scoring lineups from Week 3, how they were constructed, what we can learn from them, and the most important concepts to keep in mind when drafting a team.

142.04HerbertJonesDavanteKuppMike WillKittle
Brief Summary of Five Highest Scoring Lineups:
  • 5/5 with Cooper Kupp
  • 4/5 with Josh Allen, Davante Adams, George Kittle
  • QBs: Allen (x4), Justin Herbert
  • RBs: Derrick Henry (x2), Alvin Kamara (x2), Aaron Jones, Saquon Barkley, Austin Ekeler, Najee Harris
  • WRs: Kupp (x5), Adams (x4), Justin Jefferson (x2), Mike Williams
  • TEs: Kittle (x4), Mark Andrews
Information to Note:

These were the least correlated top scoring rosters of the first three weeks, with #5 having no correlation and three of the others having Adams-Kittle as the only correlation.

  • Allen was the highest scoring QB by a wide margin, but his best stacking partner (Emmanuel Sanders) was unowned while his #1 WR (Stefon Diggs) was 100% owned but disappointed
  • Kupp has made 100% of the top-5 lineups in back to back weeks in games without a necessary bring back from the opposing team, and with his QB still being outscored by others
  • No RBs significantly stood out on the week, allowing many one-off RBs to make appearances on the top-5 rosters
  • The most correlated team (5 players), took second by just .28 points

Many top rosters had Travis Kelce in the first two weeks, but with fellow 1st round pick Adams posting a top-2 WR score, Kelce’s underwhelming score opened the door for rosters with Kittle, Andrews, and other TEs with decent weeks. Kelce still provides an unrivaled edge in this format with his unique production to the position; it was just a week in which Adams significantly separated himself from the rest of the WRs on the slate.

Two RBs have been drafted on 12/15 top-5 teams thus far. Outside of Henry’s slate-breaker score in Week 2, top RB production has been pretty closely clumped together, with WR being the place that the top WRs have distinguished themself from the field. It’s still too early to tell what the best strategy for the FLEX is here, but thus far relying on the more bankable production of the RB spot and hoping to hit big on just two WR spots has worked more often than not.

Every team in the top-5 has scored 9+ TDs in the first three weeks, with seven of fifteen teams scoring 11+ TDs. In Half-PPR with no bonuses, TD equity is an extremely valuable commodity.

This wasn’t necessarily a week in which low-owned players were super valuable in the way that some were in the first two weeks, but Josh Allen & George Kittle were consistently available near the end of drafts. Mike Williams did make a top-5 roster as a mostly undrafted player, making it three weeks in a row of a late WR popping up in the top-5. Had someone stacked Emmanuel Sanders with Josh Allen, he also may have made an appearance, as he was a top-4 scoring WR on the slate himself. Each week there are many players or game environments with big-score potential left out of the draft due to the small rosters, but each week taking advantage of a low-owned player could have won you this tournament. WR projections carry such a wide range of outcomes, that focusing more on game environments through stacking is the long-term +EV approach to these drafts. Guessing right on a top scorer from five or six different games can work, SOMETIMES, but to consistently put yourself in a position to win every week, limiting how many things you need to go right is the best strategy.

Story Each Draft Tells

When we draft a player, we are assuming on that roster that the player has success, and therefore each successive pick must further align with the “story” we are telling on that roster. Normally this is where I’d review the story of each top-5 roster, but with so little correlation this week at the top, I decided to take a look at the best constructed of the top-5, as well as two of my own drafts from Week 3. 

142.04HerbertJonesDavanteKuppMike WillKittle

This is a really well-constructed roster, as we have two separate game stacks with lots of upside. This roster takes Herbert & Williams as a QB-WR stack, both of which were extremely under-owned in Week 3 despite a huge game total. With Ekeler 100% owned, this stack provides leverage against all rosters with Ekeler, saying the TDs flow through Herbert and his most-targeted WR through two weeks. The other stack is an RB-WR-OppTE stack on teams with narrow scoring distributions at the top. Taking Jones & Adams is saying all the GB production flows through its two best players, and that with them having good games, SF’s pass volume increases and therefore benefits SF’s best player. Kupp at WR is a bet that he continues his massive volume to start the season against a banged up secondary, and that the TB production on the other side is too evenly distributed to produce a necessary bring-back. Ultimately, Josh Allen’s gap from the other QBs prevented this roster from 1st, but it was easily the best construction at the top and still only lost out on 1st by .28 points.

118.52AllenSaquonMike WillRidleyDiggsKelce

This is my favorite roster I drafted from Week 3. After grabbing Stefon Diggs early, I paired him with a slipping Josh Allen as a bet that they would outscore the other popular pairings at the top (Kyler-Hop, Mahomes-Hill, Wilson-Lockett/Metcalf, Rodgers-Adams). Kelce offers unrivaled production at the weakest position, and him scoring well is a bet against Tyreek Hill, helping my selection of Diggs and further working against Adams-Kittle pairings. In order to further bet on Kelce’s game environment and volume, I took Williams with my last pick as he was going essentially undrafted compared to his teammates (Ekeler, Allen) despite actually leading the team in targets through two games. Stacking Saquon & Ridley was a bet on two guys expecting to lead their teams in volume, and an expectation that they can succeed in any gameflow (Ridley scoring early should mean more pass volume for Saquon; Saquon scoring early should mean more pass volume for Ridley).

This roster was ultimately hurt by Ridley & Diggs disappointing (TDs went through ancillary ATL players // production flowed through basically every other top BUF player), but it was still my favorite construction of the week, with all six players correlated in some way.

75.54Kyler MurrayJon TaylorAJ BrownMarvin JonesDavanteKittle

This is a roster that obviously disappointed but did manage to correlate all six players in some way. Taking Kyler was a bet on him being the highest scoring QB of the week, and then later taking the Opp WR1 in Marvin Jones Jr in order to further bet on the game environment and volume from Kyler. Especially with the uncertainty surrounding IND QBs throughout the week, this was universally expected to be a game TEN controlled with Henry racking up volume on the ground. Taking Jonathan Taylor and then pairing him with AJ Brown on the other side was a bet on this game going differently than the field expected, with Taylor producing on the ground and Brown getting more pass volume because of it. Davante Adams was a bet on him being the highest scoring WR on the week against a banged up secondary and then later taking Kittle to further bet on that game environment and the expected scoring of both players if their volume increased. Adams & Kittle are also two players with some of the highest chances of outscoring other 1st round picks Tyreek Hill & Travis Kelce.

Thoughts on Week 4

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. This could mean guys with relatively high Best Ball ADPs, but underwhelming starts such as Robert Woods, Allen Robinson, Calvin Ridley, Robby Anderson, Kyle Pitts, David Montgomery, Miles Sanders, Darrell Henderson (injury related), etc.

With Lamar & Kyler in tough matchups and Josh Allen in a potential blowout, pocket passers stacked with players from their game are likely to have more overall value this week for reaching 1st place. This makes it even more important to find game environments you want to bet on.

Always look 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-3 to -5 ceiling at their positions.