The NFL, after a brief hiatus, returns to London. This prompted Underdog Fantasy to release the THUNday Kerfuffle Battle Royale contest with a $10 price point, 6,816 entries and $12k 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). For this week, we get the Ravens (-1) traveling to Tampa Bay to take on the Buccaneers with a 45.5 o/u on Thursday Night and the Broncos traveling to London to take on the Jaguars (-2) with a 39.5 o/u on Sunday MORNING.
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 8 Thursday Night Football + Sunday London Game Underdog Fantasy Battle Royale
The main takeaway from looking at this slate is to win you will one again need to navigate the injury report. Big names such as Mark Andrews, Rashod Bateman, Mike Evans, Julio Jones and Gus Edwards are on the injury report to start the week. With a quick turnaround, there is a chance some of these guys miss. For the London game, there haven’t been any practice reports with the teams traveling to the UK. The biggest question revolving around that game will be if Russell Wilson plays since he missed last week. One would expect that the offense would be better with him under center than Brett Rypien…
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 is head and shoulders above the rest in terms of high floor/ceiling outcomes. Lamar has the ability to move the ball on the ground and through the air. He currently averages about 5 designed runs a game. With the uncertainty behind bth his top TE (Andrews) and #1 WR (Bateman), Lamar may have to “put the team on his back” and be forced to run wild against a strong Buccaneers front-7 and below-average Ravens’ line. It is important to note the Ravens have reverted to more run-centric the last 3 weeks with -7.2% PROE (4.7% PROE the first 4 weeks)/ Outside Lamar, the other 3 have been wildly inconsistent. Coming into the season both Russell Wilson and Tom Brady were top 10 picks in redraft leagues. Through 7 weeks, they rank as PRK 23 and 22, respectively. Their offenses have been more pass-centric (Bucs rank 4th and Broncos 12th) and with the talent they have, you would expect them to be better. It just hasn’t come to fruition. I will continue to harp on the fact that these offenses will come around at some point this season. If it happens to be this week, they will bring at least one of their pass-catchers into the optimal due to their pass-first virtues. Trevor Lawrence on the other hand, is on the 16th ranked team for PROE in the NFL and has been more effective with his legs this year than through the air (for fantasy purposes). The generational talent has shown flashes of excellence but still needs to work on limiting turnovers (8 on the year).
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 Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Christian Kirk, Courtland Sutton, and Jerry Jeudy. Due to injuries, you can really start to differentiate yourself by mixing in Rachad Bateman, Zay Jones, Devin Duvernay, Marvin Jones and Demarcus Robinson. I expect most of the ownership to land on Bateman (injury concern), Duvernay and Zay Jones since we know they will be on the field (if active). However, we have seen big play ability in Robinson (with the Chiefs) and Marvin Jones has seen 19 targets over the last two weeks and posted a 7-104-0 in week 6. An interesting name to monitor is DeSean Jackson. This is primarily a play if Bateman is out as he would need to be elevated from the practice squad but has the ability to crack the optimal lineup with just one play. The same can be said for K.J. Hamler who is used as the vertica threat. Julio seems to be a true game-time decision and if he plays will be virtually unowned (3.7 point projection) but if active should become a favorite for Brady down the seam (something he has been missing with no Gronk this year).
On the RB end, the biggest thing to note was James Robinson was traded from the Jaguars to the Jets leaving us with Travis Etienne having a unique floor/ceiling combo that can only be rivaled by Leonard Fournette. He is heavily involved in the rushing and passing games and in the red zone. Etienne played on 80% (!!!) of snaps. Coach Pederson said that JaMycal Hasty will be in line for more touches, but I would still expect Etienne to be given a near 3-down workload. As I stated before, he can be rivaled by Fournette due to his usage, but we have seem the Bucs using Rachaad White more as the season has moved on. We even got a quote from Todd Bowles saying White needs more plays. The last time he said that (after W3), White saw a 34% snap increase and 10% target share. For the Ravens, it will truly depend on if Gus Edwards is healthy. In his first game back from his torn-acl he played 36% of snaps, carried the ball 16 times for 66 yards and 2 TDs. One would expect he would continue to lead the backfield if healthy with Justice Hill and Kenyan Drake mixing in. If Gus is out, I lean Hill taking the majority of touches over Drake. After Melvin Gordon barely played in week 6, he started and was used as the primary RB in week 7. He played 51% of snaps. He still was not very effective but Mike Boone suffered an injury and went on IR. This will leave Melvin and Latavius Murray mixing in. I lean toward Latavius due to his usage around the goal line (2 TDs in 3 games).
I actually don’t hate the TE landscape for once. That may be due to the fact we have the TE1, Mark Andrews, on the slate though. Andrews is a smash if he plays. His target per route run (TPRR) leads all TEs at 27% and is at an elite level. He is the first read for Lamar and carries significant TD-upside. If he wasn’t on the injury report, I would consider him at 1.01. After him, I am punting the position and am fine with any of Cade Otton, Evan Engram, or Greg Dulcich. Engram is the best of the bunch with a 19% TPRR but both Otton and Dulcich carry TD-upside.
Top Plays for Underdog Fantasy Battle Royale Drafts
- Lamar Jackson – By far best QB on the slate
- Mark Andrews – Injury concern but if he plays he gives your team an unfair advantage from the TE position.
- Travis Etienne – Last week was just the beginning of what we can expect to see from him.
- Chris Godwin – Has been the WR1 for Brady since returning. He is the only one without injury concerns.
Players That Could Differentiate Your Lineup
- Julio Jones – If he plays, he will be on the field nearly all the time. Was a favorite down the field for Brady at the beginning of the year.
- Latavius Murray – Not being drafted very often, he should be the goal line back
- Justice Hill – Will rotate in if Gus is active, if he isn’t he could see the lion’s share of touches.
- Breshad Perriman – With Gage already ruled out, he would be the WR3 if Julio doesn’t play. Has field-stretching ability and will be unowned.