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It’s cliche to say but the driving force behind this slate is the weather. The entire East Coast is expected to be hit with significant wind and freezing temperatures. And for anyone who’s watched the show, it’s the wind which truly derails pass-attacks and drives down overall scoring. Specifically, there are 3 games directly which are likely to be impacted most by weather and as such have totals under 38: HOU @ TEN, NO @ CLE and ATL @ BAL ( WAS @ SF also does but not because of weather). This does not guarantee that these games will be useless for fantasy purposes, but a decrease in total scoring this week shouldn’t surprise anyone.
Now obviously the field being as sharp as it is has caught on this trend and it’s resulted in ownership consolidating around a few specific game environments: SEA @ KC, PHI @ DAL and NYG @ MIN. This makes a lot of sense but for us to find a differentiated path to the top of the leaderboard we’re going to have to stray into the uncomfortable and either start jamming pieces from the bad game environments or draft the players no one else is willing too from the good ones. Currently, we’ve been gravitating toward the latter because there are a lot more fun ways to do so than usual.
Favorite Game: Eagles @ Cowboys - A late-season divisional matchup between “NFC bEast” rivals featuring a back-up QB doesn’t exactly scream shootout but given the context of the entire slate, the indoor climate, the plethora of elite skill-position talent on both sides, and the ADP discount we’ve been getting all week, we’re aping in. This is one of only three games where both team totals are over 20 and we could see the Eagles side (lower of the two) climb if some combination of Parsons, Vander Esch and Diggs are unable to play (two DNPs and one LP on Friday). Yes, the downgrade from MVP candidate Jalen Hurts to Gardner Minshew is a potentially stark one, but the drafting market seems to have overcorrected more so than Vegas has. I’m not going crazy and onslaughting here but it is my favorite game to build mini stacks with given the upside and price tags.
Expensive Stack: Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs - Sometimes the simplest answer is also the correct one. At times we’ve preached “ADP is an artificial construct” and “get unique by flipping ADP” but other times it lines up perfectly to the drafter’s benefit; this is one of those weeks. For whatever reason we’ve seen the first ~5 picks routinely be the same and it’s resulted in giving the 1.06 draft slot an easy, in-line with ADP, click of Allen + Diggs at the 6/7 turn. Just keep taking it, over and over, until it’s no longer available. Because it shouldn’t be this readily available now.
Cheap Stack: Gardner Minshew and Dallas Goedert - See above. We don’t have a large sample of Gardner starting for PHI and we have no sample of him starting alongside AJB but in the one game he started last season where PHI was not resting the starters, Week 13 @ NYJ, Goedert went 6-105-2. I know, I know, small sample size, there’s so much noise, Goedert is coming off IR, etc. Believe me, I get it, but Goedert has the lowest ADP of all the PHI stack partners (AJB, DeVonta, Sanders) and fills the highly-volatile, never-fun-to-click TE position. Cheap stacks are cheap for a reason, but just think how fun it would be to ship the Battle Royale with the mustachioed mullet man at QB.
Player at ADP: Kenneth Walker - I got a tad gun shy on this take mid-week after Walker had back-to-back DNPs because he’s been hobbled by an ankle injury in recent weeks. But SEA is in a “must-win” situation and reports suggest he’s expected to play. Which is extra noteworthy because reports haven’t been as forthcoming about the status of his teammate’s Goodwin, Fant, and Dallas. It’s a decent matchup in a game where SEA is likely to be chasing points and already without Lockett, and some combination of names above, if they’re going to have any chance at all, it’ll have to come through Geno, DK and Walker.
Late-Round One-Off Player: Taysom Hill - Something about the worst weather, lowest game total, lowest team total and all-round ugliest game environment on the slate just shouts “Taysom Hill.” But the combination of the Browns being an awful run defense (30th in DVOA), potentially missing both Clowney and Garrett, and the Saints being utterly depleted on offense without Olave, Landry, and Ingram lends itself to potential premium usage for Taysom. No one can break a slate from the TE position quite like Taysom can.
Player Largely Undrafted: Devin Singletary - We’ve seen the Bills backfield usage be somewhat unpredictable and gameflow dependent at times but Singletary has had 13 or more carries in 5 of their last 6 contests and represents great “flip the build” leverage off his much higher drafted teammates Allen, Diggs, Davis and Knox. Add in the fact that the Bills are 8-point favorites facing a run defense that is 27th in DVOA and 24th in YPC allowed and there’s a path to a tournament winning ceiling, less so through raw points scored and more so through the leverage those points create for your lineup.
Player to Fade at ADP: Jerick McKinnon - Much like Engram last week and Chubb the week prior, this has less to do with the player, talent, game environment, usage or role, and everything to do with ADP pricepoint and leverage vs the field. There’s no denying that the Chiefs have found a successful formula in utilizing McKinnon in the red zone and as their pass-catching RB. His recent usage mirrors that of his role in the postseason last year and there’s clearly value in that versus a SEA run defense that has been gashed without Al Woods. But the depth of this slate is at RB and we’ve seen McKinnon’s ADP push from the late-30’s up into the low-teens, and it’s too rich for me to be routinely selecting a part-time player over the likes of Lamb, AJB, Rhamondre, Higgins, Fields, etc. This feels very similar to buying the ceiling on Pollard after his back-to-back explosion games in Weeks 8 and 10. Good play, bad price. I’ll leverage it by drafting 6th-round Pacheco and hope McKinnon doesn’t drop 40 to break the slate.
Kirk Cousins and the Vikings face a New York Giants team at home indoors with a total of 47.5. A Kirk Cousins double stack with Justin Jefferson and TJ Hockenson/Adam Thielen should be in strong portfolio consideration. I wouldn’t expect Cousins to throw for over 400 yards for the third straight game, but there is potential for Kirk to have another high volume passing day. I fully expect the Giants, fighting for a playoff spot, to be able to score enough points on this Vikings defense for Kirk and the Vikings to have an urgency to score points, all while playing indoors on a slate where others are dealing with harsh conditions.
Best Picks at ADP: Justin Fields (23.1), Kirk Cousins (29.3), Geno Smith (33.5)
Favorite Undrafted: Daniel Jones (35.4), Gardner Minshew (35.7)
Stop me if you’ve heard this before - Derrick Henry owns the Houston Texans. He has averaged 223 rushing yards in his last 4 contests against them, dating back to 12/29/19. This isn’t insignificant, however this is a Titans team that has just lost Ryan Tannehill for the rest of the season. Tannehill’s impact is easy to overlook because he doesn’t put up fantasy points, but there is a stark difference between Malik Willis and Ryan Tannehill. My take? This isn’t the matchup to sweat that difference. Henry is the first running back off the board this week, and I have no issue with that. If drafting at high volume, take Henry when you can. This is a slate that is starved for points, and he is one of the safest options on the slate.
Best Picks at ADP: Rhamondre Stevenson (20.1), JK Dobbins (28.5), Alvin Kamara (28.6)
Favorite Undrafted: Isiah Pacheco (35.1), D’Onta Foreman (36.0)
Amon-Ra St. Brown has a reputation of not letting things go. Earlier this season, he made a point of calling out Dyami Brown by name to say he was offended he went before himself. It was just announced that Amon-Ra did not make the starting Pro Bowl roster. Narrative street aside, the Lions have been playing some great football as of late. Amon-Ra faces a young Panthers defense and should be a focal point for the Lions offense as they make their late season playoff push. I expect a monster day for St. Brown, as this game looks to be close with the spread currently sitting at -3. With not many great passing environments, this looks to be one of the safer picks in drafts with lots of upside to offer.
Best Picks at ADP: Tee Higgins (22.3), Devonta Smith (27.3)
Favorite Undrafted: Darius Slayton, Jakobi Meyers
Travis Kelce. End of blurb.
All seriousness, Kelce is the undisputed TE1, but there other players in great spots. Take for example Dallas Goedert coming off IR. The Eagles are 4.5 point underdogs at Dallas, so they thankfully get a dome this Saturday. The thesis for Goedert is his ADP being very affordable, his skill set being one of the best in the league, and what looks to be a pass-happy game script for Philadelphia. His ADP should be much higher, so enjoy the discount while it’s available.
Best Picks at ADP: Dallas Goedert (32.7), Taysom Hill (34.3
Favorite Undrafted: Cole Kmet (35.8), Noah Fant (35.9)