Thursday, Dec 8th
Bye Week:
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Packers
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Falcons

Underowned Underdog. 8.21.

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 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!

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, and 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.

Typically a $5 entry fee for the weekly main tournament

After a $20K prize the first couple weeks, 1st place has been $12K for the last four weeks

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 7

Here we take a look at the five highest-scoring lineups from Week 7, how they were constructed, what we can learn from them, and the most important concepts to keep in mind when drafting a team.

ScoreQBRBWRWRFlexTE
154.96StaffordMitchellEvansKuppChasePitts
154.34TuaTaylorEvansKuppChaseGesicki
152.76StaffordHarrisEvansKuppChaseKelce
150.66StaffordSwiftAdamsKuppChasePitts
149.46StaffordTaylorEvansKuppChaseErtz
Brief Summary of Five Highest Scoring Lineups:
  • 5/5 with Cooper Kupp and Jamarr Chase
  • 4/5 with Matthew Stafford and Mike Evans
  • QBs: Stafford (x4), Tua Tagovailoa
  • RBs: Jonathan Taylor (x2), Elijah Mitchell, Damien Harris, D’Andre Swift
  • WRs: Kupp (x5), Chase (x5), Evans (x4), Davante Adams
  • TEs: Kyle Pitts (x2), Mike Gesicki, Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz
  • RB-WR-WR-WR (x5)
Information to Note:

The only stacks in the top-5 this week were four Stafford-Kupp (+1 Swift) and one Tua-Gesicki

  • QB-WR (x4), QB-TE, QB-WR-OppRB
  • One of the least correlated weeks at the top, as Evans and Chase posted huge scores without a necessary bring-back, and Pitts and Gesicki posted the highest scores in their respective games at the same one-off position
  • As has been the case throughout the season, several different RBs have made the top-5 due to the scores being more clustered together at the top, while a few WRs continue to separate themselves every week
  • Kupp has been on the main slate five times; he’s been on every top-5 roster in four of those five weeks (20/25 overall)

Most appearances by one player in top-five each week:

  • QB: 4 // 2 // 4 // 4 // 3 // 2 // 4
  • RB: 5 // 5 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 2 // 2
  • WR: 4 // 5 // 5 // 5 // 4 // 5 // 5
  • TE: 3 // 2 // 4 // 3 // 3 // 3 // 2
  • Three times there have been the same two WRs on all five top-5 rosters
  • Of the five times there has been the same WR on all five top-5 rosters, two of them have included another WR on four of the top-5 rosters

Kelce’s appearances in the top-5 by week: 2 // 2 // 0 // 0 // 1 // 1 // 1

  • While Travis Kelce is still the most uniquely advantageous player for this format due to his unrivaled ceiling at the weakest position, it has yet to come to fruition this season as other TEs are either matching him or out-producing him every week, while one of the other “1st-rounders” is putting up a have-to-have-it score each week (usually Kupp/Davante/Hill)

Two RBs were drafted on 20/25 top-5 teams through five weeks, but WRs have made a push of late and the last two weeks only 3/10 rosters have utilized two RBs. WRs carry a higher ceiling and we should expect three WRs to 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 seven weeks. Still, as long as you are in the range of WRs who still carry high ceilings (which should always be the case in these 6-person drafts), WRs should be favored over RBs in the FLEX spot more often than not.

Just four of the top 35 teams over the first seven weeks have failed to combine for at least 10 TDs (9, 9, 9, 8). 23 of 35 teams have scored 11+ TDs. 13 of 35 teams have scored 13+ TDs. In Half-PPR with no bonuses, TD equity is an extremely valuable commodity.

This from the last article 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.”

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. Here I will take a look at two constructions, one in the top-5 and one of my own.

PHILSHIFLEY80QBRBWRWRFlexTE
150.66StaffordSwiftAdamsKuppChasePitts

With his first pick, Phil takes Adams, the highest projected WR on the week in a soft matchup. Adams has the highest TD expectation of any WR in the NFL, making him extremely valuable even in this half-PPR format. Adams is the most likely player available to potentially outscore Derrick Henry and Tyreek Hill. With his next pick, Phil takes a slipping Cooper Kupp (likely to due to fear of blowout), the 3rd highest projected WR of the week. With Darrell Henderson going very early in drafts, Kupp’s success leverages those rosters taking Henderson. With his next pick, Phil takes Chase, a WR with a massive ceiling but with a perceived difficult matchup. Phil has now made bets on 3 WRs who have all shown very high floors and very high ceilings in 2021. Pitts was coming off his best game of the season, in a game environment expected to carry lots of pass volume, and basically functions as a WR at the TE position (similar to the other dominant TEs like Kelce/Waller). Pitts is one of the few TEs capable of matching Kelce/Waller/Andrews ceilings. For his first stack, Phil takes Kupp’s QB, betting on the success of Kupp going hand-in-hand with Stafford. And to finish his team with a final correlation, Phil takes Swift, betting on the Lion with the highest touch expectation and projection to be the player that pushes Kupp and Stafford into more volume in a perceived blowout spot. So the final story is a Stafford-Kupp-Swift stack featuring the expected highest scorers from that game, two players with among the highest ceilings at their positions (Adams, Pitts), and a WR on a team expected to pass heavily vs a defense that is potentially being overrated by the field.

LexMiragliaQBRBWRWRFlexTE
105.64RyanHenryPittmanDeeboFournettePitts

With my first pick, I took Derrick Henry as the highest projected player on a week missing all of Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara, Dalvin Cook, Austin Ekeler, Ezekiel Elliott, Nick Chubb, Najee Harris, and James Robinson at the RB position. Henry also gave me access to the best-expected game environment on the slate. Taking Deebo Samuel with my next pick, I was betting on the #1 WR vs a defense getting crushed by WRs in 2021 and with multiple weeks of huge ceilings already this year. Deebo’s ceiling this season is one of the few to compete with Adams/Hill/Kupp. Leonard Fournette gave me access to one of the large favorites of the week, while also leveraging the success of the popular TB WRs (Evans/Godwin). My first correlation came with the selection of Michael Pittman, betting on the #1 WR on the opposing side of Deebo. SF’s secondary has been ravaged by injury and IND was down TY Hilton and Parris Campbell, securing a high target expectation for Pittman. Both IND and SF are tougher to run on than pass on, therefore both Deebo and Pittman set up for potential target bumps. Pitts was coming off his best game of the season in a game environment expected to carry lots of pass volume and functions as a WR at the TE position (similar to the other dominant TEs like Kelce/Waller). Pitts is one of the few TEs capable of matching Kelce/Waller/Andrews ceilings. I took Matt Ryan with my final pick as a way to include a final stack, as well as give me access to any other ATL passing points that didn’t flow through Pitts. Calvin Ridley was a popular player this week, therefore getting his QB and the player most likely to leverage Ridley’s success in Pitts was a way to get strong pieces from one of the most underrated game environments on the slate. Ultimately, no one on this roster failed but none of the players outside of Pitts popped off for big games capable of matching the outputs of Kupp/Chase/Evans/AJ Brown.

Thoughts on Week 8

This from the last article 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.”

Based on UD’s projections, these are the players most likely to be drafted in the first round (meaning the majority of the time you will only end up with one of them): Henry, Kupp, Kamara, Ekeler, Swift, Darrell Henderson, Stefon Diggs, Josh Allen

None of Kelce, Waller, or Andrews are on the main slate, which most likely means TE is going to be the most frequent final drafted position. Pitts sees the biggest value boost as a result (meaning he should be targeted earlier this week), as well as TJ Hockenson just behind him. 

  • Tyler Higbee faces the worst TE defense in 2021 and has yet to have a big game despite one of the best TE route shares in the NFL.
  • Adam Trautman is projected for 3.1, meaning he will be unowned, but he has 43 and 36 rec yds in the last two weeks, TB has allowed strong TE production under Bowles, and the Saints carry their highest expected passing volume of the season vs TB
  • Ricky Seals-Jones is playing 100% of the snaps and is just the 13th highest projected TE

RBs facing defenses allowing tons of RB production: Ekeler, Darrell Henderson, Swift, Joe Mixon, Robinson.

  • All get goal-line work, all have high touch expectations, all are used in the passing game
  • Damien Harris vs LAC is also a good matchup, however he doesn’t share the same touch expectation of the other guys mentioned here (he’s also opened 16th in RB projections, meaning he will be extremely low-owned)
  • Kenneth Gainwell is 22nd in RB projections, but Miles Sanders is very questionable

WRs outside the top-15 projected with fairly high ceilings in positive matchups: Courtland Sutton, Tyler Lockett, Marvin Jones, Tee Higgins, Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Chase Claypool

  • Michael Pittman is interesting depending on health of TY Hilton
  • Marquez Callaway is still the #1 WR in a spot with higher pass volume expectation
  • Emmanuel Sanders and Cole Beasley see slight boosts with Dawson Knox going down and leverage #2 projected Stefon Diggs
  • Devonta Smith faces easiest matchup of the season vs DET

Leverage of some of the aforementioned WRs: Julio → AJ Brown, Henry // Higgins → Chase, Joe Mixon // Lockett → DK Metcalf // Smith → Goedert // Claypool → Najee Harris, Diontae Johnson // Pittman → Jonathan Taylor // MJJ → James Robinson

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-5 ceilings at their positions.