Underdog released the Prime Time Palooza contest with a $5 price point, 11,304 entries and $10k top prize. It is the same format as the Main Slate contest but with only 3 drafters instead of 6 (it has been 4 in the past). For this week, we get the Steelers traveling to Miami to take on the Dolphins (-7.5) with a 45.5 o/u on Sunday and the Bears traveling to New England to take on the Patriots (-8) with a 40 o/u on Sunday night.
Let’s dig in.
Week 7 Sunday & Monday Night Football Draft Strategy
The main takeaway from looking at this slate is to win you will need to figure out the Monday night game. The opportunity tree is condensed in the Sunday night game and should be straight forward. However, the Monday Night game is a rotation of players at the RB, WR and TE positions, making it imperative to cycle through to find the high scorers. This slate comes with a game that may be faster in pace on Sunday (Dolphins are 6th in PROE and Steelers are 13th) and slower in pace on Monday (Bears are worst in PROE and Patriots are 9th worst). The Monday night teams want to establish the run and win by grinding out the clock and playing adequate defense. Meanwhile, the Dolphins have been known to push opponents leading them to a 4.8% PROE (second highest in the league). The Steelers have also become more pass-heavy with their transition to rookie QB, Kenny Pickett, with a 3.9% PROE over the last two weeks. In terms of secondary pass catchers, the target tree is again sm
Underdog decided to throw a wrinkle in for drafters REDUCING the contest size from 4 drafters to 3 drafters. At first glance, this should make it a bit easier to get different but you will be sacrificing points from a projection standpoint. This can get tricky as you need to navigate drafts without providing unique & optimal combinations to your opposition.
With the significant change to 3 person drafts, it personally makes me underrate the QB position. All of the QBs on this slate come with risk and abnormally low floors. This is only true for Tua Tagovailoa in the case that he has suffered two concussions in the last two games he played. This could cause the Dolphins to change the game plan to reduce the amount of times he drops back. If not, his ceiling is nearly unmatched due to his pass-catchers. I say nearly unmatched as Kenny Pickett could get pushed in this game and forced to throw and scramble his way to becoming the top scoring QB on the slate. Justin Fields will need to score on the ground to have any chance of becoming the top scorer. He is only averaging 19 pass attempts a game, yet he has a higher floor due to his legs. The floor isn’t very high as he doesn’t throw many passing touchdowns but with designed QB-runs, he is a safer play (floor is around 8 points, so not really ~safe~). Lastly, we get to the QB controversy. Will the Patriots give the starting position back to Mac Jones (ankle) or will they continue to play Bailey Zappe. This all depends on if Mac is fully healthy. We saw at the beginning of the year, they wanted Mac to dissect offenses and really control the game. This was a dramatic shift from his rookie season where they ran primarily play-action and gave him simplified reads. The team depends more on the run with Zappe, limiting his ability to make mistakes and run more play-action. Neither possess high ceilings, with Zappe the lesser of two evils. Mac has the ability to break the slate through throwing multiple passing touchdowns, but with the Patriots favored by 8 points and both teams wanting to run, it is hard to see the Pats scoring 35 points with Mac throwing for 3 or 4 TDs. As I had stated in the Thursday article, I tend to prioritize the skill position players, especially a true workhorse running back, this makes Rhamondre Stevenson a priority add (if Damien Harris is out). He is not my 1.01, as that title is reserved for Tyreek Hill who’s floor/ceiling combo is unmatched, but Stevenson is close if he is the low RB in that offense.
I will continue to hound on the fact that the reduction to 3 drafters really limits the player pool in terms of roster percentage. This is truly important in terms of pass catchers. Ownership will naturally (and deservedly) condense around Tyreek, Jaylen Waddle, Diontae Johnson, Darnell Mooney, and Jakobi Meyers. Yet due to the RB-committees, you can really start to differentiate yourself by mixing in George Pickens, Chase Claypool, DeVante Parker, TyQuan Thornton, and Nelson Agholor. I expect Pickens and Claypool to see more of the ownership due to their projections being 1+ point better than the others and that we know they will be on the field. However, we have seen big play ability in Parker (5-156-0 with Mac in week 3), Tyquan is finally healthy and his usage is increasing (4-37-1 and 3-16-1 on the ground last week), and Agholor posted a WR1 season on the Raiders just 2 years ago and had a 6-110-1 line in Pittsburgh week 2. The difficulty in projecting is that Agholor missed last week with a hamstring injury which may have caused the increase in snaps for Thornton. If Agholor is healthy, do we see Thornton lose his role? Or did he show enough last week to maintain the workload? I would think it is the latter since he is a 2nd round pick. We also can’t forget last year’s Patriots leading scorer, Kendrick Bourne, who has found himself in the doghouse this year. He has flashed in limited playing time and again provides big-play ability. Another interesting player is Trent Sherfield who is the clear #3 WR for the Dolphins and should be involved if they are playing from behind. On the Bears side, I do not carry much interest in Equanimeous St. Brown as he is playing more of an underneath role but Dante Pettis and Velus Jones have serious speed and could easily break a long score. There is also a revenge narrative with N’Keal Harry, the former 1st round pick by the Patriots was traded to the Bears this offseason, however he was a healthy inactive last week. If he makes his debut, I would expect it is on limited snaps but a 50/50 ball in the end-zone is not out of the question.
On the RB end, we already touched on Stevenson having the best floor/ceiling outcome on the slate (if Harris is out). He is heavily involved in the rushing and passing games and in the red zone. This significantly changes if Harris is healthy (he practiced fully on Friday). Harris operated as the lead-back before the injury, yet has struggled on the year. Stevenson has looked like the better back and excelled without Harris. The injury could have signaled the turning of the tides, which is why I prefer Stevenson regardless. Raheem Mostert has slotted in as the RB1 for the Dolphins. His snap rate stayed consistent around 65% last week and even though his batterymate, Chase Edmonds, saw an uptick in snaps (40%), Mostert handled 80% of the opportunities (carries + targets). He is McDaniel’s guy since he followed him from SF. He should be more involved in the scenario that Tua misses the game, but carries significant TD-upside if Tua is healthy. Last year we saw Najee Harris be a volume RB1. He was playing on nearly every snap, however this year, the Steelers are reducing his workload. Rookie Jaylen Warren is rotating in on clear passing downs to help keep Najee fresh. He is just not efficient with his touches (3.2 ypc). There are some serious concerns with the Bears and the coaching staff saying it will ride the hot-hand. Both RBs have shown effectiveness when given a full-complement of snaps. I still lean toward David Montgomery over Khalil Herbert as I think it is more coach-speak (fallacy) than what they will actually do.
The TE landscape, like most slates, is gross. The Dolphins have used Mike Gesicki in more of a “big slot” role. He saw season high in snap rate (64%) routes run (75%) and targets (6) in week 6. Pat Freirmuth appears good to go after sustaining a concussion. There was concern as he has sustained 3 concussions in his 2 NFL seasons. There was optimism for Cole Kmet coming into the season but the Bears just do not throw enough for him to have a significant role. He has the potential to catch a TD as he is a big-body in the red zone (something the Bears lack). He is still operating as a near full-time player (90+% of snaps last 4 weeks). Lastly, we get to the expensive Patriots TEs. Both Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith got paid last season. There was an expectation that those signings signaled a shift to more 2-TE sets to really maximize their return. Henry paid off last year, yet Jonnu was a major disappointment. This year, both have disappointed. They are not focal points of the offense. Henry is the more consistent one playing around 80% of snaps, whereas Jonnu is moved more around the formation and has big-play ability. He only plays ~50% of snaps. I would mix more in but be more overweight on Henry. I like Jonnu as a play instead of Kmet and he will be virtually unowned.
Top Plays for Drafts
- Tua Tagovailoa – Highest QB ceiling on the slate.
- Tyreek Hill – His skillset is QB-averse.
- Jakobi Meyers – Mr. Reliable
- Pat Freiermuth – Pickett’s safety blanket
Players That Could Differentiate Your Lineup
- Greg Dortch – Should see an uptick in playing time with Hollywood hurt and Robbie making his debut.
- Tyquan Thornton – Super fast player that showed his effectiveness with last week’s snaps. Expect him to be more involved moving forward
- Dante Pettis – Multiple games with long-TDs.
- Trent Sherfield – Clar #3 WR but there is a chance Waddle is inactive, which bumps him up
- Jonnu Smith – I like the last pick potential to break a long one with the TE position being so gross.
- Mac Jones – He needs to play, but I expect him to be virtually unowned. 300-2TDs could be all you need and is attainable against the Bears.