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.
Hope you’ve been getting in some Battle Royale drafts and taking advantage of a soft field in a fun format! I’m enjoying reviewing some of these top drafts each week, as it’s an effective way of understanding what drives success in this different style of DFS. Let’s crush Week 5!
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!
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.
Entry fees // prizes this season:
W1 :: $5 // $20k & $20 // $20k
W2 :: $5 // $5k
W3 :: $6 // $20k
W4 :: $5 // $12k
UD also puts out a couple small field single entry tournaments in which 1st place takes home everything. This was a $20 entry, 90 entrant, $1500 to first place tournament.
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 1, how they were constructed, what we can learn from them, and the most important concepts to keep in mind when drafting a team.
Four of the top five lineups had at least one stack, but for the second straight week, a lineup with zero correlation made the top five. Correlated players: 3, 0, 4, 2, 4.
Many top rosters had Travis Kelce in the first two weeks, but with Kelce underwhelming the past two games and Davante Adams & Hill posting distinguishing scores in Week 3 & Week 4, Kelce has now been absent from the top-5 for two straight weeks. Kelce is the most uniquely advantageous player in this format for the season as a whole, but these past two weeks show why leveraging his success each week when you don’t draft him is key. Adams & #2 projected TE Kittle were key in Week 3, and his teammate Tyreek was key to Week 4. It is also highly unlikely Kelce has many more games in which he not just posts a mediocre score, but posts a complete dud that craters your roster.
Two RBs have been drafted on 15/20 top-5 teams thus far. From last week: “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.” More WRs outscored RBs this week (i.e. Hill, McLaurin, Deebo, Moore), but with 3/5 2-RB rosters making the top-5 even with the huge success of those guys, it’s one more week of evidence that the more projectable RB position may be a better bet for this format.
Every team in the top-5 has scored 9+ TDs in the first four weeks, with 12 of 20 teams scoring 11+ TDs. In Half-PPR with no bonuses, TD equity is an extremely valuable commodity.
From last week, still holds true: “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.”
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. Here I will take a look at two constructions in the top-5, as well as two constructions of my own drafts.
In a positive game environment in which KC was expected to score a lot of points, this roster takes the QB and his top WR. The WR also leverages the success of his teammate & frequent top-2 pick Kelce. With a fairly wide distribution of fantasy points on the other side, and the opposing QB being the best bet for a big score, this roster foregoes a bring-back and says that Mahomes outscores Hurts. For the second stack, taking Montgomery likely means an expectation of game control on the side of the home favorite, thus forcing the opponent to the air more frequently and benefiting the TE who is essentially his team’s #1 WR. The roster then takes an RB who was slipping in the draft due to matchup concerns, but served as leverage off the popularity of the WRs and was a home favorite on a high-total team. DJ Moore may have technically correlated better with this roster’s bet on Zeke, but he may not have been available for all we know. Taking Deebo is a bet on a #1 WR in a positive matchup on a team with a high-total and narrow distribution.
In a positive game environment in which KC was expected to score a lot of points, this roster takes the QB and his top WR. The WR also leverages the success of his teammate & frequent top-2 pick Kelce. With a fairly wide distribution of fantasy points on the other side, and the opposing QB being the best bet for a big score, this roster foregoes a bring-back and says that Mahomes outscores Hurts. For the second stack, this roster takes the #1 WRs on opposing teams in positive matchups, betting that the success of one means the better game environment for the other as well. The one-off RB drafted is a home favorite in a positive matchup with only two realistic bring-backs from the opponent, of which the one that would fit (Hock) is likely already undrafted. The roster finishes with a mostly undrafted TE on a team down multiple WRs in a relatively positive matchup.
Taking Hill leveraged Kelce, and then adding Adams too was a bet that the two of them would outscore the other WRs at the top of projections (Cooper Kupp, Stefon Diggs). Next, taking Montgomery & Hock was a bet on game control on the side of the home favorite RB, thus forcing the opponent to the air more frequently and benefiting the TE who is essentially his team’s #1 WR. Taking Hurts was a bet on Hill’s game environment & Hurts rushing ability, with Hurts success keeping KC aggressive enough for Hill to post a strong score and for his rushing to help him potentially score more than Mahomes. Taking Diontae was a bet on Davante’s game environment, with Diontae’s success leading to more GB pass volume and benefiting Davante. Diontae being essentially undrafted also provided the leverage of an extremely unique roster without sacrificing upside (Diontae has top WR potential every week).
Ultimately, the GB & DET success came through Cobb & Raymond instead, preventing this roster from a bigger day.
Taking Kamara was a bet on the 2nd highest projected RB as a home favorite in a positive matchup seeing career-high usage on the ground. With CMC out & Dalvin banged up, Kamara was one of the few on the slate with a ceiling in the range of frequent top-2 pick Derrick Henry. Taking Hill leveraged Kelce, with Hill’s ceiling more often than not negatively correlating with Kelce’s. Later taking Hurts was a bet on Hill’s game environment & Hurts rushing ability, with Hurts success keeping KC aggressive enough for Hill to post a strong score and for his rushing to help him potentially score more than Mahomes. Pairing Goedert with Hurts-Hill was a further bet on the game environment, and the strongest pass catcher pairing with Hurts given the positive matchup and the weakness of the TE position. Goedert going essentially undrafted also provided the leverage of a unique roster without sacrificing upside (TE projections all similarly low outside of Kelce). Taking Jefferson & Odell as an opposing WR pairing was a bet that the success of one forced the other team to be more aggressive, leading to a more positive game environment for the both of them. As the #1 WRs on their respective teams, more pass volume most directly affects their respective ceilings, as both are on teams with an inclination to run first and foremost. Ultimately, Baker missed Odell for several big TDs, Jefferson & Kamara’s scores didn’t quite keep pace with the top guys at the positions and Hurts & Goedert lost a TD to a penalty that kept them from further separating as the #1 player at their respective positions.
From last week, still holds true: “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.”
With the field having mostly caught up to Kelce’s value in this format, the top-3 looks to mostly be Henry, Kelce, Dalvin Cook in Week 5. Kelce & Henry were being drafted 1 & 2 essentially every draft the last couple days of last week, and it has carried over to Week 5. Waller being back on the main slate, and in a fairly positive matchup, dampens Kelce’s value just slightly (in terms of there being a TE with a closer projection & ceiling to his than last week).
Nick Chubb & Damien Harris currently stand out to me as players being overlooked and under-projected right now in drafts. Both face bad run defenses, both are the lead rushers on teams who prefer to run, both get Green Zone work, and both their teammates have had bigger games more recently (Kareem Hunt & James White).
Joe Mixon is in a positive matchup and game environment vs GB as an every-down back but is going undrafted right now due to injury concerns. Big upside in the last round if he’s healthy enough to play full snaps and you get him before any news makes that secure. Underdog swaps in the highest projected player or highest in personal rankings left if a drafted player misses the game, so with such a deep pool and Mixon being a last pick, this is easy enough to set up with an alternative player in mind. Eli Mitchell is another low-projected player due to injury concerns, but if he returns to being a starter this week, carries big upside vs a porous ARI run defense. Trey Lance starting and a gameplan being built around him this week likely opens up tantalizing run play options that don’t exist in the same way with Jimmy Garoppolo at QB.
If one of the two TEN WRs is healthy this week, big upside exists vs a JAC defense allowing the 2nd highest yds/att in the NFL. They are both going frequently undrafted right now, while Henry is consistently picked first. Like Corey Davis last week, Marvin Jones is an interesting pairing with Derrick Henry, as the majority of rosters will not have a Jaguar other than the few with James Robinson. Emmanuel Sanders is still going undrafted but carries big upside vs a horrendous KC defense to start 2021 and with the highest aDOT on the team. He already produced a top-5 WR score in Week 3, and Diggs & Josh Allen are taken in every draft.
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.