2023 Week 14 Underdog Battle Royale Strategy


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2023 Week 14 Underdog Battle Royale Strategy

Underdog’s weekly Battle Royale tournaments are a relatively new and growing contest format that blends everything I love about DFS and best ball. The flagship contest is essentially a large field DFS tournament where you draft against others in an Underdog lobby.

As there’s very little content aimed at this format, I believe there is a big edge to be had for those willing to put in the work. Luckily, I’ve done all of that for you below.

The basic tenets of Battle Royale strategy are quite similar to DFS. Generally, you want to put together at least one stack of a QB, one or more of his pass catchers, and possibly a player from the opposing team (a “bring-back”). Making these correlated bets will raise your team's ceiling and increase your chances of placing near the top of a field that includes thousands of entries.

Also, like DFS, it benefits you to select players in Battle Royale that few other entrants will have on their roster — as long as they have the ceiling to outscore the more popular players. It’s comparatively easier to “get unique” in Battle Royale, as simply scrolling down to players with ADPs beyond 34.0 or so gives you access to options who will be selected in very few draft lobbies, while players with an ADP above 30.0 will be selected in close to 100% of drafts.

In this article, I aim to accomplish both of these objectives together. Here’s how to build correlated, unique cores that I believe stand the best chance of taking down the Week 14 Battle Royale.

Format, Scoring, and Things To Know For Beginners

Each Battle Royale draft contains six people and lasts six rounds, for a total of 36 picks. On Sunday, you compete against all 67,500 people who have entered a draft. Each pick has a 30-second clock, so drafts take only a few minutes. It is very easy to bang out many in one sitting.

Each roster has space for 1 QB, 1 RB, 2 WRs, 1 TE, and 1 FLEX. The scoring is a normal half-point per reception format, similar to what you would find on FanDuel or Underdog’s season-long best-ball contests.

Somewhat like a DFS tournament, 10% of the total prize pool is paid out to the top scorer, with the rest distributed to the top ~18% of finishers in gradually declining payouts based on placement. This means it is critical to draft for upside, as you only win something if you place very highly.

Like a DFS main slate, only players from the early afternoon and late afternoon Sunday games are included in the pool.

Unlike in season-long best ball drafts, “reaching” a little is usually OK in these lobbies, especially if it’s to put together a stack that won’t be available to you at your next pick, and especially in the final two rounds (where you get a massive ownership advantage from reaching). On the other hand, taking a player falling far past their ADP from the early rounds is also a good way to create a unique team naturally.

The biggest exception to this comes at the beginning of Round 1, where frequently reaching across multiple drafts is probably a bad idea. Your draft slot is random each time, and especially on shorter slates with fewer elite options, you’ll have a hard time getting the top 1-3 players by ADP (who are often in a tier of their own) if you don’t happen to get a top pick. That means if you want any of the best plays to be included in your portfolio of rosters, you have to take advantage of the opportunity whenever you get an early draft slot.

There are no hard-and-fast rules on which positions to draft when — the optimal early selections will be different on every slate. Refer to the “Macro-Level Slate Notes” section below to get an idea of how I’m viewing the tiers at each position, and how I’m generally playing the first round.

From there, pay attention to who you can stack, which positions your roster still needs, and which positions your opponents have already filled for guidance (e.g., if all five other drafters have already selected a QB, you can wait until the final round to select whichever remaining QB you want).

Key Game-Stacks

Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers

Brock Purdy, QB, San Francisco 49ers (ADP: 24.8, QB5)

Purdy enters the week with the highest implied total of any slate-eligible QB (28.5), fresh off of tossing four touchdowns against the Eagles to lead the slate in fantasy points. Why not go right back to Purdy now playing at home, where he’s averaged 11.2 YPA (would rank QB1), an 11.2% CPOE (QB1), 0.74 fantasy points per dropback (QB1), and 23.1 FPG (QB3)?

There’s certainly some danger that the Seahawks will fail to keep this game competitive, allowing the 49ers to go more run-heavy and leading to a disappointing, low-volume outing for Purdy — exactly what happened when these teams met on Thanksgiving. But that logic would have had you losing your shirt from fading the Dallas Cowboys over the past six weeks. If the 49ers win in another blowout, it’s just as likely that Purdy plays a big part in getting them up big in the first place.

From a structural point of view, drafting Purdy allows you to make your optimal stack (whether you believe that’s with Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, or George Kittle) without having to spend a Round 1 pick on any of his receivers. That’s not the case if you’re stacking Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen, as Travis Kelce and Stefon Diggs are locked into Round 1 ADPs. This is relevant on a top-heavy slate where Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara are (rightfully) the only two RBs being selected within the first two rounds, as it will be impossible to pair either of them with a Mahomes-Kelce or Allen-Diggs stack.

Last week’s winning lineup took full advantage of this Purdy Principle, ingeniously pairing him (rather than Tua Tagovailoa) with clear slate 1.01 Tyreek Hill, creating a relatively unique combination while taking advantage of the cheaper cost of Purdy’s receivers.

This week, you could add a Purdy stack to any team with Kelce, Diggs, or whatever Round 1 player you prefer. This is going to beat a stacked Kelce or Diggs a good amount of the time while being a less popular construction.

Brandon Aiyuk, WR, San Francisco 49ers (ADP: 19.0, WR10)

Despite recent blow-up games from Deebo Samuel and George Kittle (both of whom you should also mix into your Purdy teams), I still believe Aiyuk is the alpha on this offense with his 3.26 YPRR (best among slate-eligible WRs) and 43.3% air yardage share (5th-best). Aiyuk is tied with Kittle for the team lead in end-zone targets and has by far the deepest aDOT (14.6), suggesting he’s the highest-upside weekly play.

The Seahawks normally play a ton of Cover 3; they’ve used it on 42.1% of dropbacks this season, the 4th-most in the NFL. Pete Carroll took it even further when these two teams last met in Week 12, playing Cover 3 on a whopping 60.6% of dropbacks.

Against Cover 3 this season, Aiyuk leads the 49ers in first-read target share (28.6%) and YPRR (2.95). Samuel particularly struggles in comparison, posting just a 12.1% first-read target share and 2.02 YPRR against these looks. His fantasy day was made by a rushing touchdown the last time he faced the Seahawks.

Minnesota Vikings at Las Vegas Raiders

Joshua Dobbs, QB, Minnesota Vikings (ADP: 35.6, QB9)

Despite having his bye last week, Dobbs leads all QBs in scrambles (17) since joining the Vikings in Week 9. He’s logged at least 7 rushing attempts and scored on the ground in every game with his new team, until the Week 12 disaster against the Bears in which he ran only twice and threw four interceptions.

Head coach Kevin O’Connell is aware of the problem. “Over the last couple of games, you’ve seen defenses be much more disciplined in their rush patterns…they’ve done a good job trying to contain his ability to get out of the pocket…try to make him uncomfortable without leaving them susceptible to some of the scramble plays.”

With reports as far back as Saturday that the Vikings indeed planned to stick with Dobbs coming out of their bye, O’Connell and Dobbs will have likely made adjustments to ensure he can leave the pocket and threaten the Raiders’ defense in the way he’s most capable. And this is a significantly better matchup for Dobbs — while the Bears have allowed the 6th-fewest schedule-adjusted rushing FPG to opposing QBs, the Raiders rank in the middle of the pack.

The Raiders have been vulnerable to QB scrambles in particular. On these plays, they’re allowing the 7th-most YPC (8.5) compared to the Bears’ 4th-fewest (5.5). 16.7% of QB scrambles have gone for 15+ yards against the Raiders (5th-most), compared to 4.3% against the Bears (5th-fewest). Remember, before facing the Bears, Dobbs had consistently been among the most productive rushing QBs in the NFL week in and week out. Among healthy QBs this season, he trails only Justin Fields, Lamar Jackson, and Jalen Hurts in rushing YPG.

While the visions of Dobbs’ implosion against the Bears are sticking clearly in drafters’ minds, I think there’s a significant chance he simply ran into an awful matchup for his particular skill set. Zooming out, Dobbs has already finished as a top-5 QB three times this year and is getting back Justin Jefferson, by far the best weapon Dobbs will have played with all season. Yet absolutely nobody is playing him.

The Battle Royale format opens up excellent ownership arbitrage opportunities, and this is one of the best since I’ve started covering the contest (maybe second to De’Von Achane frequently going undrafted last week).

Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings (ADP: 4.0, WR1)

While the Dobbs thesis is somewhat complicated, the case for stacking Jefferson with him is very much not. Though he hasn’t played since Week 5, Jefferson leads all slate-eligible WRs in receiving YPG (114.2) and Underdog FPG (18.4). Aside from the one he left early with his hamstring injury, Jefferson has scored over 19.0 Underdog points in every game this season. (Admittedly, all of this production occurred with Kirk Cousins under center).

The Vikings have been incredibly cautious with Jefferson, holding him out through the bye despite him being reportedly close to playing against the Bears two weeks ago. The team has little reason to trot him out if he’s not 100% healthy, so it’s reasonable to expect him to look close to his usual self this week.

The Raiders have been gashed by opposing outside WRs over their last five games, having surrendered the 3rd-most schedule-adjusted FPG to wideouts over that timeframe. This trend, along with Jefferson’s history of target domination, means I prefer him to T.J. Hockenson as Dobbs’ stacking partner, though both are viable.

If you use a bring-back (which isn’t strictly necessary in a lower-total game like this one), make it Davante Adams.

Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears

Justin Fields, QB, Chicago Bears (ADP: 23.5, QB4)

In a vacuum, Fields is likely a better play than Dobbs this week against a Lions defense that has historically struggled against mobile QBs. He has run the ball a whopping 30 times in his two games since returning from injury.

Also like Dobbs, Fields invites an easy and logical single-stack with D.J. Moore, who is averaging 18.9 Underdog FPG and a 41.3% first-read target share in Fields’ healthy games, both slate-leading marks. With the weather forecast looking better than it did early in the week and this game’s total now 3.0 points higher than Vikings/Raiders, there is less of an incentive to get off Fields than I’d originally anticipated.

Of course, there’s always a chance the Lions are tired of being torn apart by mobile QBs (including by Fields himself just two weeks ago) and use a spy. But ownership is now the biggest differentiator; based on their ADPs, Fields will be selected in virtually 100% of draft lobbies, while Dobbs will be selected in virtually none. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t play Fields — just that you’ll want to find other ways to get different with him (suggestions further down).

Still, Fields and Dobbs have significantly overlapping ranges of outcomes, so in circumstances like these, I’m going to lean toward the player going under-owned slightly. But I want heavy exposure to both of them. To argue in favor of Fields again, much like Purdy, his optimal stack does not take up your Round 1 pick as Dobbs-Jefferson does. If Christian McCaffrey or Alvin Kamara end up optimal, Fields stacks will have a big leg up over Dobbs stacks regardless of relative ownership.


Rather than jam them all into the slate notes, I wanted to devote a little more space to some strong one-off plays I’d like to be aggressive in drafting.

Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints (ADP: 5.0, WR2)

Kamara draws a plus matchup against the Panthers (7th-most schedule-adjusted FPG allowed) in a game where Derek Carr will likely be playing hurt and reluctant to throw downfield. If Taysom Hill does not play after missing Wednesday and Thursday practices with foot and hand injuries, Kamara gets an even bigger upgrade. Hill has handled 44% of the team’s rush attempts inside the 10-yard line since Kamara returned in Week 4.

Ja’Marr Chase, WR, Cincinnati Bengals (ADP: 10.3, WR5)

Contrary to everyone's fears when Joe Burrow went down, Chase has seen 17 catchable targets in his two full games with Jake Browning, 4th-most among slate-eligible WRs. The Bengals have done a stellar job at drawing up easy ways for Browning to get the ball in Chase’s hands (5 designed targets), and the matchup is enticing; the Colts have allowed the 7th-most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing receivers lining up out wide.

Kyren Williams, RB, Los Angeles Rams (ADP: 26.5, RB5)

In his two games since returning from injury, Williams has averaged 27.1 Underdog FPG (RB1) and a 78.9% snap share (RB4). He’s handled every backfield carry inside the 5-yard line, and all but one inside the 10-yard line. Last week, in his second game back, Williams’ snap share shot up to 95.2% as he handled all but one backfield carry. He would be my RB3 outright on this slate behind Kamara and McCaffrey, but he’s available late.

Rachaad White, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (ADP: 33.8, RB11)

Pretty much everything I just wrote about Williams’ amazing workload also applies to White, who is available even later and should catch even less ownership. Only Williams and McCaffrey have averaged more Underdog FPG than White over the past five weeks, and only McCaffrey has played a higher snap share.

Macro-Level Slate Notes

  • It is not necessary to draft any RBs in Rounds 2-4, as there are plenty of great options available late, like the ones mentioned above. Zack Moss and Joe Mixon also project for great workloads at a cheap cost.

  • I have little interest in any QBs outside the three I discussed above. The Chiefs/Bills matchup looks juicy on paper, but both QBs carry a significant opportunity cost for what I perceive as a relatively small edge at the position. That’s even before factoring in the Round 1 prices of their best stacking partners.

  • A lot of brutal matchups make this a relatively thin slate at WR. There are only a few spots where I like the value you get from the position, with Ja’Marr Chase, D.J. Moore, Brandon Aiyuk, and perhaps Rashee Rice being the most noteworthy.

  • My only strong lean at the TE position is that if you do not secure one of the big five (Travis Kelce, Sam LaPorta, T.J. Hockenson, George Kittle, and Dalton Kincaid), drafting Dalton Schultz could be a sharp move. It’s unclear whether he’ll play after not practicing Thursday due to a hamstring injury, but if he does, you’ve got a massively under-owned player with multiple top-2 positional finishes this year in a plus matchup (7th-best schedule adjusted). If Schultz doesn’t play, just set your swap rankings accordingly so that another TE who was not taken in your draft is cycled into your lineup.

Round 1 Strategy

If I get the first pick, I am always taking Christian McCaffrey. With four other viable TEs on the slate, I think it’s fine to pivot off of Travis Kelce at the 1.02 if you’re keen on getting a lot of exposure to a different game stack. However, I will mostly be taking him there, given the relative weakness of the top WRs this week.

Your ranking of the Round 1 WRs should be dependent on which games you most want to stack, but since I plan to have a lot of Dobbs and Fields, I will prioritize them in the order of Justin Jefferson > Amon-Ra St. Brown > Stefon Diggs. But I’ll be selecting Alvin Kamara ahead of St. Brown and Diggs, and potentially over Jefferson as well if Taysom Hill is confirmed out before Sunday.

If drafting at the back of Round 1 with Kamara off the board, I also see nothing wrong with slightly reaching for a Ja’Marr Chase or D.J. Moore at the turn.

Week-Winning Sleeper

Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Detroit Lions (ADP: 34.7, RB12)

The Bears are allowing the most schedule-adjusted receiving FPG to opposing RBs of any team in the league. Gibbs set a season-high in receiving yards on a 17.1% target share when he last played the Bears on Thanksgiving.

Gibbs doesn’t have a monopoly on red zone touches like some of the RBs being selected before him, but it’s not as dire as some perceive. Since David Montgomery returned in Week 10, Gibbs has averaged 5.5 XFP/G on red zone carries, the 6th-most among slate-eligible RBs and more than Montgomery. Gibbs is also plenty capable of scoring from further out — he’s posted the 3rd-highest explosive play rate among 42 qualifying RBs this season.

Gibbs makes for a great bring-back to Fields stacks but also works as a standalone option to make any lineup more unique.

Ryan is a young marketing professional who takes a data-based approach to every one of his interests. He uses the skills gained from his economics degree and liberal arts education to weave and contextualize the stories the numbers indicate. At Fantasy Points, Ryan hopes to play a part in pushing analysis in the fantasy football industry forward.