Underdog released the Prime Time Palooza contest with a $5 price point, 4,500 entries and $3k top prize. It is the same format as the Main Slate contest but with only 3 drafters instead of 6 (constant shift from 3 to 4). Although entries have increased, there is now a flatter playout structure reducing the top prize from $12k to $9k. For this week, we get the Titans traveling to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs (-12.5) with a 46 o/u and the Ravens (-2) traveling to New Orleans to take on the Saints with a 47 o/u.
Reminder that you can also user our FREE Rankings for Underdog Fantasy Battle Royale “Showdown” tournaments to help aid in your drafts alongside this article. They are updated for every new slate each week (3x per week).
Let’s dig in.
Draft Strategy for Week 9 Sunday and Monday Night Football Underdog Fantasy Battle Royale
The main takeaway from looking at this slate is to win you will need to navigate the injury report. Rashod Bateman, Jody Fortson, and Mark Ingram have already been ruled out. Mark Andrews and Gus Edwards are doubtful and Ryan Tannehill appears to be a true game-time decision. Not only that, we will need to figure out how Kadarious Toney throws a wrench on the already receiver carousel the Chiefs have. In terms of passing, the Saints and Titans are condensed in teams of offensive output but the Ravens and Chiefs are spread out. The Chiefs lead the NFL in PROE the last 4 weeks, meanwhile the Saints are 5th worst and the Titans are dead-last. The Ravens are around league-average at 20th, leaning more toward the run. With injuries to their #1 WR and TE, we would expect the Ravens to run even more in this game. This leads me to temper expectations for the Saints Ravens game. Although it has a higher ou, the Ravens should try to slow the game down and win with their defense (just acquired Roquan Smith) and will only be forced to throw and speed up the game if they are pushed by the Saints (which also runs at a high rate).
Underdog decided to throw a wrinkle in for drafters. It has been shuffling between 3 and 4 man drafts, for this slate we get 3-man drafts. 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. For this particular slate though, I don’t. Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes are two of the top 5 (at worst) QBs in the league (in terms of fantasy). Both provide significant ceilings and safe floors. Lamar is more safe due to his designed rushes and his role as a ball-carrier in the red-zone. Mahomes isn’t run-averse but is more likely to produce through the air and bring his pass catchers with him. Both are going in the 1st round (primarily the first two picks) for good reason. With Tannehill a true GTD, Malik Willis carries significant rushing-upside especially in a blow-out due to scrambling with collapsed pockets. If Tannehill is cleared to go, the inspiration for is the Chiefs are forcing their opponents to throw at league-highest rates which increases his possibility of being the optimal QB due to “garbage time”. I personally do not have a ton of interest in Andy Dalton. He doesn’t really push the ball down the field. However, he has been producing when he has a clean pocket. The Ravens are generating the 7th least amount of pressure in the league.
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 Chris Olave, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Devin Duvernay and Robert Woods. Since there will be at least 6 WRs selected, this means due to the uncertainty, it will be easy (for once) to get different. I would expect most of the ownership to land on Demarcus Robinson due to him being the WR2 for the Ravens. For the Chiefs, we already touched on Toney. He is off the injury report and I expect Andy Reid to scheme up some touches since they had the bye week to get him up to speed. His addition hurts the value of Skyy Moore, Justin Watson and Mecole Hardman but all should continue to be rotated in. If one doesn’t, I would expect that to be Justin Watson. It will be important to monitor Jarvis Landry, who hasn’t played since week 4. If he is healthy, that will downgrade Tre’Quan Smith and Marquez Callaway. Neither of which inspire much confidence, but if I had to choose one, I would be on Smith. Other interesting names include DeSean Jackson and Rashid Shaheed both can provide big-play ability and only need 1 touch to crack the optimal lineup.
On the RB end, there are 2 very viable running backs in Derrick Henry and Alvin Kamara. Both come with 100+ yards and 2-TD upside and are the focal points of the offense. I prefer Kamara over Henry since he is heavily involved in the passing game and the Titans are 12.5 point underdogs. There are real concerns they have to abandon the run and Henry provides an underwhelming performance. In terms of the Chiefs, one would expect Isaiah Pacheco to become the primary running back off the bye. He started week 7, yet only saw 30% of the snaps. Jerick McKinnon and Clyde Edwards-Helaire were still involved (44% and 27% of snaps, respectively). Pacheco should be more of the primary runner and steal some of the passing work from McKinnon, if they trust him in pass blocking. He is my favorite bet of the three (and isn’t being drafted as frequently with CEH having the highest projection). The Ravens have seen their fair share of RB injuries. With Gus Edwards doubtful and J.K. Dobbins on IR, the lionshare of work should be given to Kenyan Drake with Justice Hill mixing in. A big wrinkle is how many designed runs do they give to Lamar to limit their upside. An interesting name is Dontrell Hilliard. He is a direct leverage off Henry and has been the main pass catching back for the Titans.
The TE slate is OK. The room is headlined by Travis Kelce. With much of the ownership landing on Isaiah Likely and Taysom Hill. Hill carries significant upside as the wildcat QB in the red-zone and could even become the starting QB if Dalton suffers an injury (unlikely with Jameis healthy). Likely has been the main beneficiary when Andrews is injured. He should be the primary pass catcher for the Ravens on Monday Juwan Johnson gets overlooked. He is the primary pass catching TE for the Saints. He just doesn’t carry the same upside Hill has. Lastly, Austin Hooper will be virtually unowned but could catch 5+ passes as the underneath guy on a team that are 12 point underdogs. I will try and mix him in.
Top Plays for Underdog Fantasy Battle Royale Drafts
- Lamar Jackson – Great floor/ceiling combo
- Patrick Mahomes – Great floor/ceiling combo
- Travis Kelce – #1 receiving option for Mahomes
- Chris Olave – #1 WR on the slate
- Alvin Kamara – Unreal rushing/receiving combo
Players That Could Differentiate Your Lineup
- Kadarious Toney – Designed touches for a shiny new toy.
- Dontrell Hilliard – Pass-catching back for Titans.
- Austin Hooper – Pass-catching TE for the Titans who are 12 point underdogs
- DeSean Jackson – Even at 35 he carries significant speed and deep play ability