2023 Week 16 Underdog Battle Royale Strategy


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2023 Week 16 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 16 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 45,000 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

Dallas Cowboys at Miami Dolphins

Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys (ADP: 13.2, QB2)

I’m not going to be scared off of Prescott after last week’s disaster, as the Bills did an excellent job scheming into his weaknesses. They played the 4th-most Cover 2 of any team in Week 15, a shell that Prescott has averaged only 0.30 fantasy points per dropback (FP/DB) against this season (QB22). Against all other coverages, Prescott averages 0.53 FP/DB (QB5). The Dolphins rank dead-last in Cover 2 rate this season (1.7%), so Prescott’s outlook should be improved.

This game is sitting at an over/under of 50.0 points, by far the best on the slate. Both sides of this matchup will be difficult to stack, given CeeDee Lamb and Tyreek Hill will be the first two players selected in most drafts, but even if you have a later draft position, reaching a little for Prescott in Round 2 is defensible. That’s partly due to the thin, upside-starved nature of the QB position on this slate, but also because there’s a cheaper, less common stack you can take advantage of with him.

Jake Ferguson, TE, Dallas Cowboys (ADP: 31.4, TE6)

Ferguson has gotten lost in the shuffle of young tight end breakouts this season, but he leads all TEs in end zone targets and ranks 4th among slate-eligible TEs with 33.0 routes per game since Week 8. Ferguson has a significantly better schematic matchup than Lamb, thanks to the Dolphins playing the highest rate of Cover 6 in the NFL, against which Ferguson averages 0.66 fantasy points per route run.

In other words, we might expect Ferguson to be about as efficient as Deebo Samuel against a shell the Dolphins run 26.3% of the time. That may only translate to a handful of Ferguson’s routes, but I’ll take that in a game environment that should be very conducive to scoring, at a position where a single play often makes or breaks a fantasy football day.

Of course, none of this is to say you should prioritize exposure to Ferguson over Lamb. I just wanted to highlight a viable stacking partner for Prescott available to you no matter your draft position.

De’Von Achane and Raheem Mostert, RBs, Miami Dolphins (ADPs: 28.8/11.3, RB9/RB3)

As is generally the case in any tournament-style contest, both Achane and Mostert are firmly in play. And this is a better spot than most for the Dolphins’ backfield, with Tyreek Hill still banged up and Mike McDaniel excitedly rubbing his hands together after watching James Cook run for 179 yards against this Cowboys defense last week.

The Cowboys have been the third-most extreme run funnel this season, allowing a -3.3% pass rate over expectation (PROE). That’s great news for Achane, who has four top-5 positional finishes out of the six games in which he’s seen multiple rush attempts this year, good for a 23.0 Underdog FPG average (would rank RB1 on the slate). While he’s not seen much red zone usage lately, his 19.0% target share over the past three weeks (also RB1 on the slate) suggests he makes for a strong uncommon pairing with Tua Tagovailoa in addition to being a good bring-back.

Mostert is significantly more expensive but should not be significantly more popular on paper than Achane based on their respective ADPs, which means I’m certainly giving you permission to lean toward him and his 100% snap share inside the 10-yard line over the past two games. However, I do expect Lamb, Prescott, and Mostert to be a popular construction in the first three rounds, which is something to be aware of on a slate with a serious lack of good under-owned options late.

Cleveland Browns at Houston Texans

Joe Flacco, QB, Cleveland Browns (ADP: 35.2, QB9)

In eight full games over the past three seasons, Flacco is averaging an absurd 47.5 dropbacks per game (would rank QB1 this season among slate-eligible players) and 285.0 passing YPG (QB1). On a relatively weak QB slate, his 19.8 FPG in his three games this season ranks 2nd-best at the position behind only Dak Prescott. The Texans rank as the 7th-softest schedule-adjusted matchup for opposing QBs.

Much of Flacco’s appeal stems from how aggressive the Browns have allowed him to be. 38% of Flacco’s pass attempts have traveled over 10 air yards, the 3rd-highest rate among QBs. And the Browns’ PROE has ballooned from -2.4% (5th-lowest) before Flacco to +6.2% (5th-highest) since he took over.

This pass-heavy approach even translated to a positive game script against the Jaguars just two weeks ago, so C.J. Stroud likely missing this game does not concern me much. The Browns have thrown on 64.6% of their plays where they led by at least a score over the past three games (7th-highest).

Drafters have noticed that Flacco has revitalized this Browns’ passing game, as David Njoku and Amari Cooper are both being selected inside the first four rounds. But Flacco’s ADP means he’ll likely carry a massive ownership advantage, going un-rostered in the vast majority of drafts. This means you do not need to get weird anywhere else on Flacco teams, a luxury on this thin slate.

David Njoku, TE, Cleveland Browns (ADP: 17.3, TE3)

Speaking of Njoku, he is my favorite pass-catcher with whom to stack Flacco. The Texans rank as the 4th-softest schedule-adjusted matchup for opposing TEs (+2.0 FPG), coming at a time when Njoku has hit his stride.

Over his past three games with Flacco, Njoku is averaging 70.7 receiving YPG (TE3 on this slate) and 9.3 targets per game (TE2). He also leads the Browns in end zone targets over that stretch, his red zone usage enabling two consecutive top-2 positional finishes.

Njoku also works as a naked play, projecting just fine next to Trey McBride and T.J. Hockenson, whom he’s being drafted right alongside. But selecting Njoku gives you the added flexibility of punting to Flacco with your final draft pick, which is appreciated in a format where one person can snipe you and ruin your Plan A stack.


Ty Chandler, RB, Minnesota Vikings (ADP: 33.0, RB11)

Alexander Mattison has yet to practice this week, meaning Chandler seems in for a reprisal of his role from Week 15, when he saw an 80.6% snap share (RB2 among slate-eligible players), 76.7% of team rush attempts (RB4), and received all four backfield opportunities in the red zone. The matchup against the Lions is a difficult one (2nd-toughest schedule-adjusted), but getting a potential bell-cow RB in the game with the second-highest total on this weak slate at cheap cost and lower ownership is a bet I’m going to make.

Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers (ADP: 32.4, RB10)

With A.J. Dillon likely limited in some capacity as he makes his way back from a broken thumb, Jones has a golden opportunity this week against a Panthers defense that has ranked as the 5th-most extreme run funnel this season (-1.5% PROE).

Though he played on only 50% of the Packers’ snaps last week in his first game back from a hamstring injury, Jones received nearly all of the backfield opportunities, including all three of the backfield’s carries inside the 10-yard line. The team trusting Jones for ball security in the red zone over the guy with a broken thumb this week seems logical.

Garrett Wilson, WR, New York Jets (ADP: 32.9, WR14)

Though likely Week 16 starter Trevor Siemian and Wilson failed to make any meaningful plays against a partial Jalen Ramsey shadow on 56% of Wilson’s routes, they could have significantly better luck this week. Wilson gets a Commanders’ defense that has allowed the most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing WRs (+13.6). Regardless of QB play, any time I can play a WR who ranks top-5 in both first-read target share and air yardage share against this secondary, I’m doing it.

Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (ADP: 8.3, WR6)

Don’t take Evans being in the one-offs section the wrong way; I’m not at all against turning this into a stack with Baker Mayfield. But Evans settling just before a tier break at the WR position in Round 2 meant I wanted to give him particular focus. He ranks second behind only CeeDee Lamb in end zone targets this year and gets a Jaguars secondary that has allowed the 4th-most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing wideouts.

Macro-Level Slate Notes

  • My exposure at QB will largely be composed of Dak Prescott, Tua Tagovailoa, Baker Mayfield, and Joe Flacco. Jared Goff has been dreadful against the blitz and Cover 2 this season, both major features of this Vikings defense. While Justin Fields appears to have an excellent matchup on paper, the Cardinals have allowed merely +0.4 FPG to QBs on the ground above the league average this year, and the opportunity cost of taking him over a Jahmyr Gibbs or Sam LaPorta is fairly steep.

  • RB is the only position on the slate with what I’d call passable depth, but it also lacks any truly elite options. Rachaad White’s Round 1 ADP into a bad matchup and top-3 pass funnel — after he’s been dramatically underpriced for a month — is amusing. Still, I sort of get it when there’s no Christian McCaffrey or Kyren Williams. The value is generally fine here up and down the board, so draft the position whenever you aren’t being pulled in any other direction.

  • You have to draft some position early, so it may as well be WR. The value here falls off dramatically after Mike Evans and again after Amari Cooper, so locking up both WRs early seems responsible.

  • Unless you have Dak Prescott and are planning to stack Jake Ferguson (as discussed above), I would do your best to get a top-4 TE on this slate — Sam LaPorta, Trey McBride, David Njoku, or T.J. Hockenson. Evan Engram has little appeal without Trevor Lawrence, and none of the punt options are particularly appealing this week.

Round 1 Strategy

As I mentioned earlier, Tyreek Hill remains banged up and theoretically has an uphill battle to major production this week; since 2014, WRs have produced only 50% of their season-long yardage average in their first week back from a high-ankle sprain. But are you fading Tyreek Hill as the 1.01 when his team has the highest implied total of the week on a slate that lacks other elite talent? Yeah, me neither.

CeeDee Lamb and Justin Jefferson are my clear preferences after Hill. Amon-Ra St. Brown and D.J. Moore each have decent-to-good on-paper matchups but rough schematic matchups — St. Brown especially.

This means my Round 1 rankings go Tyreek Hill > CeeDee Lamb > Justin Jefferson > Rachaad White > Mike Evans > Amon-Ra St. Brown > D.J. Moore. That likely means I’ll end up with more White and Evans than I care to, but there simply aren’t strong alternatives on this slate. Much like last week, we’re hoping for a top-3 pick over anything else, so feel free to get as weird as you want (whether that means reaching for Dak Prescott in Round 2 or drafting Joe Flacco late) if you’re stuck at the back end of Round 1.

Week-Winning Sleeper

Devin Singletary, RB, Houston Texans (ADP: 35.8, RB17)

Singletary having an ADP that functionally implies he’ll be on close to 0% of rosters the week after he produced 170 all-purpose yards on 30 touches and relegated Dameon Pierce to only four snaps (fewer than Dare Ogunbowale) is confusing, to say the least. Pierce’s struggles in OC Bobby Slowik’s scheme have been well-documented all season, and the team finally scaled back his touches after splitting rushing work near-evenly with Singletary over the previous three weeks.

Of course, Singletary is not a perfect play — the Browns have allowed the 3rd-fewest schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing RBs, the Texans are 3-point underdogs in a low-total game, and our Line Matchups Tool expects Singletary’s offensive line to be outmatched. But the Texans could again lean on the run game with Case Keenum making another start, and the Browns have also been the 7th-most extreme run funnel this season. I’ll be leaning on Singletary frequently for teams that need a unique piece.

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.