Underdog Battle Royale Week 1 Primer

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Not only is Underdog Fantasy the premier Best Ball and Pick’ems platform, but it also has a fun way to attack each slate from a weekly DFS perspective with their weekly Battle Royale contests that cover the NFL main slate (1 pm and 4 pm games) each week. Instead of a salary cap format, you are in a 6-person draft where you select six players (1 QB, 1 RB, 2 WR, 1TE, 1 Flex) and compete for the week’s best score.  So how can we attack this format and get to the top of the prize pool? I’m going to look at some strategies to consider and give rankings of who to target for Week 1!

 

For some excellent background data on what has worked for Battle Royale’s in the past, Lex Miraglia lays out out some trends in this thread:

 

What are some of the key takeaways:

Stacking:

Utilizing a QB-Position player stack is very beneficial. Typically this is QB-WR, but QB-TE and QB-RB can work as well. Two position players without a QB works, but not as much. Also double-stacking and bringbacks aren’t as important, as with typical DFS contests.

This makes sense since we are only dealing with 5 positional spots and we looking for top-end outcomes. It’s going to be pretty rare that one team produces two elite fantasy position players in the same week. Even if you are right on the highest-scoring game, it might only have one elite player (plus the QB).

Point totals:

With the average winning line-up over the last 2 years getting 156 points, you really can’t afford to have just an average day at any position. Quarterbacks are making up 32+ points of that, so that leaves over 120 points for your TE and RB, 2 WRs, and Flex. Unless you are having an outlier week, your TE is getting between 18-20 points, so that means the rest of the position players need to average over 20 points per game. In .5 ppr this means we need to be touchdown hunting. Target the highest scoring game totals, and situations where a player is a safer bet to score a TD.

Utilizing the Flex:

It shouldn’t come as a big surprise, but when Lex looked at the top 5 line-ups over the last 2 seasons (180 total), 68.9% used a second running back in the Flex. This obviously makes sense since running backs typically perform better at the high end in .5 ppr. Last year running backs had more 20-point and 30-point games than WRs despite more receivers on the field. Running backs have even more value in this format since we are only starting 2 WRs, and not at least 3 like in regular DFS contests or Best Ball.

 

How to build your team:

So with these quick 6 person drafts, and having clear positional limits, it makes it pretty easy to identify who is typically drafted in a given week. There will be just 6 QBs, and TEs in every draft, up to 12 RBs and up to 18 WRs, but the reality is it is probably more like 8 RBs and 16 WRs. For the top guys at the position in a given week they are going to be drafted in 99% of the drafts out there, even digging slightly deeper will be in 85-90% of drafts. This means that even if you nail the top-scoring WR, that means there are 7,500 other line-ups with that player in it.

So what does this mean? Well the first thing is most players are going to be roughly the same in terms of ownership, so all you need is to try to get a little different. Just reaching outside of the top players on one spot can go a long way to making you more unique. I also believe not paying too much attention to ADP and the pre-set projections, especially if you are only doing a couple of line-ups. If you have the first pick, you might want to ensure that you land the top QB or RB instead of going with Justin Jefferson. Finally, using an RB in the Flex not only is optimal to win more money, but it’s also simply not used enough.

Rankings: I will give my top players at each position, and a couple of sleepers.

 

QB:

  1. Lamar Jackson

  2. Justin Herbert

  3. Jalen Hurts

  4. Trevor Lawrence

  5. Tua Tagovailoa

  6. Joe Burrow

Sleepers: Kirk Cousins, Russell Wilson

I think both Jackson and Herbert are the top options on this slate as the game environments look very exciting, but I don’t think Hurts, Lawrence and Tagovailoa are that far off. I do worry a little about Burrow’s injury and him hitting a ceiling, but that offense is too good to ignore. I don’t love the sleep options as much this week, but we’ve seen Cousins have a couple 30+ point games each year, and against a weak Buccaneers defense that is in play. Wilson is coming off a terrible year, but I love the match-up and Sean Payton=points, so we should see some spike weeks from him.

 

 

RB:

  1. Austin Ekler

  2. Nick Chubb

  3. Bijan Robinson

  4. Chrisitan McCaffrey

  5. Josh Jacobs

  6. Joe Mixon

  7. Derrick Henry

  8. Travis Etienne

  9. Kenneth Walker

  10. Raheem Mostert

Sleepers: Brian Robinson, Jamaal Williams, Miles Sanders, A.J. Dillion

I do bump down McCaffrey a bit this week as the 49ers offensive line is the weakest it’s been in years and the Steelers’ defense could be as as strong as it’s been in years (which is saying something). Add in Brock Purdy maybe not 100%, and you just wonder if the ceiling is there. I like the situations better for Ekler, Chubb, and Robinson especially. Jacobs and Mixon could be full bell-cow backs, and we should never bet against Henry. I like Etienne, Walker and Mostert as Flex options, as their usage and match-ups are all very strong. If you do want to get a different there are some nice lower options in backs like Robinson, Williams, Sanders and Dillon, who should all have significant roles, and goalline usage. If they score a TD they are in play, and if they get 2 you will rocket up the leaderboards.

 

 

WR:

  1. Tyreek Hill

  2. Justin Jefferson

  3. Calvin Ridley

  4. A.J. Brown

  5. Ja’Marr Chase

  6. Keenan Allen

  7. Jaylen Waddle

  8. Mike Williams

  9. Davante Adams

  10. Jahan Dotson

  11. Tee Higgins

  12. D.K. Metcalf

  13. Tyler Lockett

  14. Chris Olave

  15. Courtland Sutton

  16. Rashod Bateman

  17. Amari Cooper

  18. DeVonta Smith

  19. Deebo Samuel

  20. Drake London

Sleepers: George Pickens, Mike Evans, Van Jefferson, Odell Beckham/Zay Flowers, Jayden Reed, Marvin Mims

Typically I will only have 2 receivers, but I do think it’s fine going a little down the board for one of your WR options. Typically I will be pairing a receiver with my QB, so that should drive your ownership. For me though I want a WR from the Chargers/Dolphins game. I don’t necessarily need 2, but this is the one game where I don’t mind the bring-back. The other studs are all in play, and it’s time we remember that Calvin Ridley should be in that conversation. Expect him to abuse this inexperienced Colts secondary. Also I like taking advantage of some of the injury situations, Dotson in Washington with McLaurin banged up, Sutton/Mims in Denver with Jeudy on the shelf, Van Jefferson and Jayden reed as deep sleepers with Kupp likely out in LA, and both Doubs and Watson less-than 100% in Green Bay.

 

 

TE:

  1. Mark Andrews

  2. Dallas Goedert

  3. T.J. Hockenson

  4. Tyler Higbee

  5. Evan Engram

  6. David Njoku

Sleepers: Gerald Everett, Luke Musgrave, Juwan Johnson, Pat Friermuth

Mark Andrews is the clear top TE whether you have Lamar Jackson or not. I do really like both Goedert and Hockenson as TE’s tied to top offenses with a pretty decent target share. Higbee could be the best way to take advantage of the Kupp injury. I am very bullish on the Jaguars offense and think Engram can be a major weapon in this match-up. Some sleepers I really like are Everett from a potential shootout game, Musgrave with the Packers injury situation, and TD hunting with either Johnson or Friermuth, who both should have strong Red Zone roles, and just a lot of talent. Yes the match-up is tougher for Johnson and Friermuth, but that is why they might only be drafted 10% of the time. If not of the elite TEs have a monster game, this is a great spot to be unique.

 

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