It’s Halloween, but we’ve still got drafts to do for the Underdog Fantasy Battle Royale tournament, the MNFxTNF Melee, with a $60k total prize pool and $12k to 1st place. 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 Bengals (-3) traveling to Cleveland to take on the Browns with a 45 o/u on Monday Night and the Eagles (-10) traveling to Houston to take on the Texans with a 45 o/u on Thursday Night.
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 8/9 Monday and Thursday Night Football Underdog Fantasy Battle Royale
The main takeaway from looking at this slate is to win you will need to correctly find the scoring secondary pieces on these teams. The Eagles and Bengals are pretty condensed in teams of offensive output but the Texans and Browns are spread out. It is important to note that the Bengals rank 1st in PROE over the last 3 weeks (+14.5%) and are 3rd overall through 7 weeks. The Browns are 4th worst in PROE. The Eagles are league average at 19th (they lean a bit more russ-heavy and the Texans are league average at 11th (lean more pass heavy).
Underdog decided to throw a wrinkle in for drafters. It has been shuffling between 3 and 4 man drafts, for this slate we get 4-man drafts. At first glance, this should make it a bit harder to get different as the amount of players drafted is larger.
With the change to 4 person drafts, the QB position becomes very important. They have the highest ceiling’s of all the positions and can help ensure your lineup cashes (and vaults up the leaderboard). Jalen Hurts is far and away the best player on the slate due to how involved he is in the Eagles offense. They design runs for him and as stated before they don’t take their foot off the gas, he has 400+ total yard upside which is unmatched by anyone in the NFL, let alone this slate. Next up would be Joe Burrow. We saw last week and part of last year that Zac Taylor and the Bengals won’t take their foot on the gas either and Burrow could throw for 350+ yards on volume alone. He is limited with his legs, which is why his ceiling outcomes are still below Allen’s. There isn’t much to say about Browns’ QB, Jacoby Brissett or the Texans’ Davis Mills. They have been service-level QBs. Brissett does have some dual-threat ability, but with the offense being run-first, it severely limits his ceiling outcomes.
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 Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd A.J. Brown, Devonta Smith, Bradin Cooks (if he isn’t traded) and Amari Cooper. Due to injuries, you can really start to differentiate yourself by mixing in Donovan Peoples-Jones, Nico Collins, and Mike Thomas. I expect most of the ownership to land on Peoples-Jones since he’ll be on the field during 2WR sets. Nico Collins will also be on the field for 2WR sets (if healthy) and could become the #1 if Brandin Cooks is traded prior to Tuesday’s trade deadline. If he is traded, I would expect Chris Moore to be the primary beneficiary of an increased snap count. Mike Thomas is an interesting dart throw with the injury news to Ja’Marr Chase. Boyd and Higgins will become full-time players, but the Bengals play a lot of 11-personnel (3WR sets). This means Thomas may be on the field more and in a high-volume passing game is leverage off Boyd, Higgins and Joe Mixon.
On the RB end, there are 6 very viable running backs. Joe Mixon, Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, Dameon Pierce and Miles Sanders all come with 100+ yard and 2-TD upside. Hunt is more viable in gamescripts where the Browns are playing from behind as he is the 2-minute and primary pass-catching back. Samaje Perine would be the primary beneficiary if Mixon were to get injured. I don’t like to plan for injuries, but they do happen to the RB position at an increased rate. Something to watch here is the Eagles are rumored to be in the trade market for a RB which would hurt Sanders (around the goal-line for this game specifically on top of Hurts) but it could cause his ADP to be depressed. For what it’s worth, I do not expect a deal to be completed.
We once again have an ugly TE slate. We have three sure starters in Harrison Bryant, Hayden Hurst and Dallas Goedert. The Texans run a committee with OJ Howard, Brevin Jordan and Jordan Akins all playing around 40% of snaps. Goedert is the safe option with an average of 9 points a game. My preference is Bryant since Njoku was heavily involved in the offense and he should take over that role. We could see Bryant have 8+ targets in a negative gamescript. Hurst could see an increase in target share with Chase out, but he is still a low-volume option. I will try to avoid the Texan’s situation.
Top Plays for Underdog Fantasy Battle Royale Drafts
- Jalen Hurts – By far best QB on the slate
- AJ Brown – #1 option for Hurts
- Tee Higgins – #1 option for the Bengals with the Chase injury.
- Harrison Bryant – Personal choice due to volume in a projected negative gamescript.
Players That Could Differentiate Your Lineup
- Mike Thomas – Projected WR3 for a pass-heavy Bengals offense.
- OJ Howard – Receiving TE for a team that should be losing.
- Nico Collins – This will close before Cooks is traded, keeping his ADP low.
- Quez Watkins – Deep-threat for the Eagles. Will only need one long score to crack the optimal.