Cardale Jones XFL

It was a great first week of XFL football, as the league captured the eyes of the American public all weekend. Hopefully, this is the start of something long-lasting, as the games proved to be remarkably transparent, and entertaining for viewers. With any luck, you made a little bit of money last week as well playing XFL DFS. DraftKings came out with yet another major contest for XFL this week, paying $100,000 to first place. Here is some lineup advice to help get you to the top.

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


Quarterback

Target worth paying up for: Cardale Jones ($10,200) vs. NY

Everyone is going nuts for P.J. Walker ($10,600), and rightfully so. It is obvious that June Jones’ Run-and-Shoot offense is going to create a bounty of fantasy points. But don’t forget about Cardale, who played great last weekend in a victory against Seattle. Jones averaged nine yards per pass attempt, and carried the ball nine times. He is the star of the offense. In Week 1, the Defenders scored on both a punt block and interception return, meaning that D.C. had the ball on offense less than expected. With a full complement of snaps, Jones should be neck and neck with Walker and costs $400 less.

Best value: Jordan Ta’amu ($8,900) at HOU

Ta’amu was very impressive in Week 1. Playing against a Dallas team that was the favorite to win the title, the former Ole Miss QB completed 74% of his passes, and he carried the ball nine times for 77 yards in a win. The Battlehawks were by far the most run-heavy team in the league last week. Their 55% run rate was the highest in the league by 9%. With that said, so long as Ta’amu continues to be a large part of that run game (15% of carries in Week 1), he should find a way to produce. Playing against Houston’s offense should also put more pressure on St. Louis than Dallas did in Week 1, and should continue to keep the ball in Ta’amu’s hands.

Positional Strategy

The pricing has been adjusted massively from Week 1, specifically at this position. With wild amounts of uncertainty at the position in Seattle (injury), L.A. (injury and a timeshare), and Tampa (injury and a timeshare), there really isn’t a palatable option below Ta’amu outside of taking a long-shot in GPPs. Spend at this position, and save elsewhere.


Running Back

Target worth paying up for: De’Veon Smith ($7,500) at SEA

Not much went right in the red-zone for the Vipers in Week 1, but that shouldn’t make us ignore their nearly 400 yards of offense, or the play of Smith. The former Michigan Wolverine saw 16 carries (55%) against New York, and he ran a route on over 50% of Tampa’s drop-backs despite only receiving one target. The Vipers also find themselves road favorites again against a Seattle team that looked like the worst in the league in Week 1. There should definitely be some better game-script here for Smith, who saw numerous attempts inside the 10 yard-line but was unable to convert.

Best value: Nick Holley ($4,800) vs. STL

Holley is an interesting cheat code at the RB position. Though that is his DraftKings designation, Holley functioned as a starting receiver in Week 1, which lined up with his listing on the team depth chart. In that role, Holley saw five targets, catching four for 50 yards. That kind of receiving production is going to play well at RB, especially since most teams seem to be employing some kind of committee. Holley is far more appetizing than many RBs who are seeing most of their work on the ground, as 75% of Week 1 touchdowns came through the air.

Positional Strategy

If there is a position that Week 1 results would be telling us to punt at, it is absolutely RB. Here is how the top-owned RBs performed in Week 1:

Cameron Artis-Payne: 6.3 DKFP
Jhurell Pressley: 6.9 DKFP
Elijah Hood: 4.3 DKFP
Christine Michael: -.0 1DKFP
De’Veon Smith: 9.7 DKFP

Obviously none of these players managed to find the endzone, which could have changed their fates, but it does not seem to be a profitable cash-game strategy to pay up at RB. Save here so that you can pay up at other positions while being willing to pay up to be contrarian in GPPs.


Wide Receiver

Target worth paying up for: Cam Phillips ($8,400) vs. STL

In such a small league, you are likely going to have to roster at least one Roughrider every week. Houston has a fantastic offense, and it is especially good for WRs, as they are frequently targeted down the field. Phillips played every snap of Saturday’s game, and he tied for the team lead in targets with nine. His first catch was a beautiful 50-yard touchdown on the opening drive. Expect to see a lot of that in Houston this year, which should give the top target plenty of opportunities to pay off his salary.

Best value: Joe Horn ($3,400) at DC

Week 1 provided us our first look at how targets could be distributed for all of the teams, and Horn was someone who failed to cash in on significant volume. He saw a team-leading eight targets, good for 27.6%. However, he was only able to reel in two of them, which has kept his price extremely low on DraftKings. On top of that, New York only had to run 45 plays, and throw 29 times against the Vipers. Both of those numbers represent lows across the XFL for Week 1.

Positional Strategy

There are some WRs who have big ceilings, and absolutely need to be in consideration for your roster. With that said, you will likely need to pay down for at least one wideout, even if it isn’t all the way down for someone like Horn. Balanced builds will likely be contrarian in GPPs, but in terms of an optimal process, I think stars and scrubs is the way to go while pricing is still be adjusted in this new fantasy game.


Flex

Target worth paying up for: Nelson Spruce ($10,400) vs. DAL

If things go as they did in Week 1, Spruce is shaping up to be one of the biggest target hogs in the XFL. With the Wildcats playing in comeback mode, Spruce saw 15 targets, eight more than the next most on the team. He averaged just 9.4 yards per catch, but considering the limitations of his QBs, and the low aDOT patters he runs, Spruce was still able to provide massive fantasy value. If Josh Johnson (thigh; $10,400) can return to the lineup, Spruce could see less volume, particularly if it makes the Wildcats more competitive, but Johnson’s upgrade in the passing game could off-set that difference through efficiency.

Best value: Jalen Tolliver ($3,900) at SEA

Much like Horn, Tolliver failed to deliver on his impressive Week 1 volume. He saw eight targets, just one less than Dan Williams ($7,600). While Williams caught six passes for 123 yards, Tolliver managed to snag just three for 47 yards. The variance in weekly catch rate, especially on deep passes, is large, so fantasy gamers would be wise to take advantage of the $3,700 difference in cost between these two players. At the time of this writing, it is unclear if Taylor Cornelius ($6,700) or Aaron Murray ($9,200) will be the starter, as Murray is dealing with a foot injury and has not practiced. With Cornelius in, we should expect to see a little more Quinton Flowers ($7,500) playing the Taysom Hill-type of role we saw in Week 1. That would lower the range of outcomes for all pass-catchers on the Vipers.

Positional Strategy

Given the low production exhibited by RBs in Week 1, it makes sense to reserve your flex spots for WRs (or TEs) on DraftKings. Playing multiple backs is simply not desirable at this juncture, although one creative way to do so would involve Holley. Two RB lineups are fairly low ceiling, but being able to play a single-RB lineup disguised as two would be contrarian while providing a similar range of outcomes as other players.


Defense

Target worth paying up for: Defenders ($4,400) vs. NY

After scoring two touchdowns for fantasy gamers in Week 1, it is worth it to go right back to the well with the Defenders in Week 2. We didn’t get to see this New York team tested last week, as they easily eviscerated the Vipers, so we have no idea how Matt McGloin ($9,900) will perform against pressure. If he folds, we have another great game incoming from what appears to be one of the top XFL defenses.

Best value: Roughnecks ($3,400) vs. STL

The Roughnecks are eight-point home favorites against the Battlehawks, which should force Ta’amu to throw more than he may feel comfortable. That should lead to sacks and, hopefully, turnovers. Houston was in a similar spot last week against the Wildcats, and they came through with a great game for the price. They should do so again here.

Positional Strategy

The price gap at DST is still fairly small, making it valuable to pay up in a decent amount of tournament lineups. In cash games, however, it is still valuable to save as much money as possible. There are viable plays along the entire spectrum this week, so a good mix is recommended if multi-entering tournaments.


Key news to monitor on DK Live:

PROBABLE
Brandon Silvers ($8,200; ankle)
DeAndre Thompkins ($3,600; foot)
Khari Lee ($3,900; foot)
Malachi Dupre ($4,500; thigh)

OUT
Kasen Williams ($5,900; quad)
Aaron Murray ($9,200; foot)

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


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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.

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