Phillip Walker XFL

If you thought football was over after the Super Bowl, fret not! The XFL is back, better than ever, and starting this weekend. After partnering with the league, we hope that you are as excited about this new brand of football as we are. There are plenty of outstanding daily fantasy contests being offered, and we want to get you pointed in the right direction when setting your lineups. Let’s dig right in!

Set your lineups here: XFL $350K Kickoff Special [$100K to 1st]

Quarterback

Target worth paying up for: Landry Jones ($9,200) vs. STL

There is still some question as to Jones’ status entering Week 1. Renegades’ head coach Bob Stoops said Jones is “shooting for Week 1 and then I think the worst-case scenario is Week 2” while dealing with a knee injury. If he plays, the former Sooner and Steeler is undoubtedly one of the top plays of the weekend. Offensive coordinator Hal Mumme is one of the founders of the Air Raid offense, and he is sure to lead a heavy passing attack in Dallas. In his time at SMU and New Mexico State, Mumme’s offenses were over two standard deviations above the mean in pass attempts. The Renegades play in the final game of the weekend, so be ready to pivot to his backup, former East Carolina standout Philip Nelson ($8,300) if he ends up being out. This is an offense worth investing in no matter who is at the helm.

Best value: Phillip Walker ($7,800) vs. LA

Walker is a former Colt that was recently named as Houston’s starting QB over Connor Cook. Since this was unexpected when salaries first came out, Walker comes in as an outstanding value. The Roughnecks are another offense with Air Raid ties. Head coach June Jones worked with Mumme at SMU, and lead a highly successful offense at the University of Hawaii. You may recall his QB, Colt Brennan, being a Heisman candidate after throwing for 5,549 yards and 58 touchdowns. This Houston team doesn’t even have a TE on their roster; they certainly plan on spreading it out and slinging the rock. In addition, Walker brings mobility to the table. He posted a 4.74 40-yard dash, and 6.90 three-cone at his pro day. He ran for 771 yards and nine touchdowns while at Temple, which includes losing yards taken on sacks.

Positional Strategy

Unlike in traditional NFL fantasy, QB is not a position to mess around with for XFL. The deltas in pass attempts around the league could end up quite large with just a 25-second play clock, and more overall plays run. It would be wise to focus on the teams that have proven pass-friendly offensive coaches. In addition to those mentioned here, I would add Marc Trestman (Tampa Bay Vipers) and Norm Chow (L.A. Wildcats).


Running Back

Target worth paying up for: Elijah Hood ($7,500) at HOU

As I mentioned earlier, the Wildcats have a proven offensive mind in OC in Chow. Unfortunately, it sounds as though their star QB (relatively speaking) may not be suiting up this weekend. Josh Johnson ($10,700) is dealing with a thigh injury, and he was not practicing as recently as Wednesday. L.A. does not have an established backup behind Johnson, and would likely turn to Charles Kanoff ($6,000) if he missed the game. This should create a greater emphasis on the run game, led by Hood. Chow’s Titan’s offense was top five in rushing in 2007, so he knows a thing or two about highlighting the run as well as the pass. Hood should be leaned on heavily in this spot.

Best value: Andre Williams ($3,800) vs. LA

This one is pretty simple. Williams is the third highest-priced RB on his team, but he is listed atop the team’s depth chart. Even expecting Houston to throw the ball a ton, this is still a pretty fantastic value. Williams is 220 pounds, and no other back on the roster is heavier than 207. He also scored 18 touchdowns as senior at Boston College and had seven as a rookie with the Giants. He is most likely to receive the goal-line work. For an offense expected to be as explosive as the Wildcats’, this could lead to some cheap short-range scoring at a very low price.

Positional Strategy

Outside of Williams, there isn’t a ton of value available at RB. There are a few players at the top of the salary chart who appear to be workhorses and some other teams that may be looking like committees. But just like the NFL, the game script should dictate additional rush attempts. Both D.C. and Dallas are seven-point favorites or more on DraftKings Sportsbook. Those are some teams to target for RB production.


Wide Receiver

Target worth paying up for: Jeff Badet ($8,800) vs. STL

Though it is Jazz Ferguson ($4,200) receiving most of the publicity, Badet is the top player on the depth chart, and the most likely to receive the bulk of the targets from Jones (or Nelson) on Sunday. Badet was the fourth overall player selected in the XFL draft, meaning he is highly regarded by the organization. When Mumme was at SMU in 2013, he had two different receivers inside of the top-10 in receptions in the entire nation. At New Mexico State from 2005 to 2008, he had at least one WR inside of the top 25, often while playing fewer games than the majority of other teams. Badet is a clear top-two WR in the league.

Best value: Jalen Tolliver ($3,200) at NY

The Vipers released an official depth chart on Wednesday, and Tolliver was listed as the team’s top WR after losing Antonio Callaway to injury. Furthermore, they are led by Trestman, who is routinely celebrated as an offensive genius. The Toronto Argonauts were first and second in pass attempts in 2017 and 2018 in Trestman’s most recent stint in the CFL, and his teams ranked 16th, eighth, first, and first in attempts for his four NFL seasons between the Bears and Ravens from 2013 to 2016. Expect plenty of volume to make it’s way to Tolliver, who had 1,109 yards and 16 touchdowns in his final season at Divison II Arkansas-Monticello.

Positional Strategy

If you are looking for value, WR is certainly a position to find some. With XFL pricing being released prior to this week’s depth charts, there are a few pricing errors around the league. You don’t want to miss out on all of the true studs like Badet and Houston’s Sammie Coates ($9,300), but it is likely worth paying down for at least one WR in order to pay up elsewhere.


Flex

Target worth paying up for: Sammie Coates ($9,300) vs. LA

Since I already mentioned Coates, it is worth discussing him as a high-priority flex option. He is the WR with the most NFL experience in this league, catching 29 passes for 528 yards and two scores across 45 NFL games. He has always been an excellent deep threat, averaging 21.4 yards per catch at the college level, and 18.2 in the NFL. Now he gets to be the lead ball-getter for Houston after being the 18th overall pick in the XFL draft. As mentioned previously, this should be a high-volume passing offense.

Best value: Jordan Smallwood ($3,000) at HOU

This is another price inequity to take advantage of, as Smallwood is the top wideout for the Wildcats on their recently-released depth chart. Getting anyone’s top WR for minimum salary is worth considering, even if the team might throw less if Johnson misses the game. Smallwood averaged less than 10 yards per reception at Oklahoma, but he should be a low-aDOT target that racks up PPR points. The prices here make it easy to get in a game-stack of the LA/HOU game, which is certainly something worth considering given the total cost, spread (Wildcats +5.5), and overall upside.

Positional Strategy

The XFL should have more plays run than a typical NFL game, and perhaps a lot more. That means more pass volume across the league, but particularly for those teams employing pass-friendly coaches. Since DraftKings is a full-PPR site, this only increases the edge WRs will have over RBs in the flex. Start there, with occasional pivots to the stud RBs if salary permits.


Defense

Target worth paying up for: Renegades ($4,700) vs. STL

We don’t know a ton about defensive play at the XFL level, but it would make sense to target some of the same things we do in NFL DFS. In particular, large spreads should dictate the opposing team dropping back to pass more, which should lead to sacks and takeaways. Dallas is a 7.5-point favorite against Jordan Ta’amu ($8,700) and the Battlehawks. Ta’amu was sacked over 7% of the time while at Ole Miss in 2017 and 2018.

Best value: Defenders ($4,200) vs. SEA

Much like the Renegades, D.C. finds itself a big favorite this weekend, currently seven points on DKSB. The XFL rules also make it so that the return game should be more dynamic. The Defenders employ DeAndre Thompkins (foot), who should be their primary return man, but he is out this week. The team has not announced yet who will take his place, but my money is on former NFL-er Eli Rogers ($9,100). Rogers had 26 punt returns in two seasons with the Steelers, averaging 7.3 yards per runback. Valuing returners should be a hidden edge to open the year in XFL DFS.

Positional Strategy

There is a big spread in DST pricing this week, and not a ton of information to go off of. It makes the most sense to target bad QBs who could be passing frequently, as well as dynamic returners. That is what I have done above. Otherwise, follow the same rules you’d use in NFL DFS; avoid stacking against your defense, and stack your DST with a RB at times. The double-dip (DST + returner) will be more viable in XFL if the returner also has a stable offensive role.


Key news to monitor on DK Live:

QB Josh Johnson ($10,700; thigh)
QB Landry Jones ($9,200; knee)

RB Lance Dunbar ($4,400; banged up, per Stoops)
RB Nick Holley ($5,800; knee)

WR Kasen Williams (OUT; quad)
WR Tre McBride ($5,500; thigh)
WR DeAndre Thompkins (OUT; foot)
WR Jazz Ferguson ($4,200; hand)
WR Joe Horn ($3,300; ankle)

Set your lineups here: XFL $350K Kickoff Special [$100K to 1st]

Get all the news and analysis up to the minute on DK Live.


Put your knowledge to the test. Sign up for DraftKings and experience the game inside the game.


I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is amicsta) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.

Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER (NJ/WV/PA) or 1-800-9-WITH-IT (IN) or 1-800-522-4700 (NH).
NH/NJ/WV/IN/PA only. 21+ (18+ NH). Eligibility Restrictions Apply. See website for details.