Josh Johnson

We are officially halfway done with the inaugural season of the new XFL, and it has been a lot of fun tracking so far. Now that we have so much information about the league, hopefully we can make our best lineups on DraftKings yet.

Set your DraftKings lineups here: XFL $125K Saturday Special [$25K to 1st].

Quarterback

Target worth paying up for: Josh Johnson ($10,800) at SEA

Johnson has been fantastic, with his productivity the last three weeks rivaling very closely with likely MVP P.J. Walker ($12,300). Johnson has thrown for five more yards, one more touchdown, and one less interception over the past three weeks than Walker. Walker has the edge in rushing, but that is not enough to make up for the $1,500 discrepancy in price. Seattle is allowing the highest yards per pass attempt in the entire XFL, and it is almost a full yard ahead of the second-worst pass defense.

Best value: B.J. Daniels ($8,500) vs. LA

This is still too cheap. Daniels averaged just 5.2 yards per pass attempt on 22 passes, but he carried the ball eight times for 30 yards and two scores. Daniels’ rushing ability gives him a terrific floor. He also is capable of extending plays with his legs, and just missed on two long passes thrown after escaping the pocket. Daniels had just over 20 DKFP in Week 5, but it certainly could have been a larger day. The Wildcats have been susceptible to the run all year, allowing 4.61 yards per carry, and the most yards per game on the ground in the league.

Positional Strategy

Since we have some options at both end of the pricing spectrum, it is best to make your decision at QB based on the rest of your lineup in cash games, rather than starting your teams with the signal-caller. In tournaments, try to focus more on the players with the most raw point upside, and be more price-agnostic.


Running Back

Target worth paying up for: De’Veon Smith ($8,000) vs. STL

The volume that Smith has seen has been outstanding since Jaime Elizondo took over play-calling duties from Marc Trestman. He has seen 24 carries each of the past two weeks, and he’s been targeted five total times. This is a team committed to running the football. Jacques Patrick (back; $6,800) did not practice on Tuesday, and he has functioned as the 1B option to Smith this season. Should he miss or be limited at all, it would only strengthen Smith’s hold on the backfield, and would greatly increase his touchdown equity.

Best value: DuJuan Harris ($4,200) at SEA

Harris continued to function as the lead back for the Wildcats in Week 5, playing 29 snaps to just 17 for each of Martez Carter ($4,600) and Larry Rose ($3,800). He saw over 70% of the RB rush attempts. This is the cheapest you can get a lead RB for at this juncture of the season. There isn’t a ton of upside to be had with Harris (unless he falls in for a couple of TDs), but he is an adequate filler for your lineups if you want a decent floor.

Positional Strategy

It is getting more and more difficult each week to not spend a decent amount of salary at the RB position, which is likely good for the game overall. Don’t scrimp here in cash games. In tournaments, you can take some shots at lower dollar players, but I prefer to get a rotation of the backs seeing the most work. That is where the monster weeks will come from.


Wide Receiver

Target worth paying up for: Cam Phillips ($11,700) at NY

Is there any doubt that Phillips is the best WR in the XFL? No player is within 100 yards receiving of him this season, and he has more than double the number of receiving touchdowns as the next-closest player. He has to be a priority every week to be the top high-dollar player in your lineup. And since he represents so much of the Houston passing game (34% of passing yards, 60% of passing touchdowns), you are basically getting some exposure to Walker through Phillips. Even if you cannot afford to stack them, you can still acquire a tremendous chunk of what will routinely be a top offense week to week.

Best value: DeQuan Hampton ($3,400) at SEA

Brandon Barnes (knee) is out for the season, and that should make Hampton the primary TE for the Wildcats. Barnes has seen at least three targets in every game, and we should expect Hampton to see closer to five or six now that Barnes is out. The Dragons allow the second-most receiving yards, and most receiving TDs to opposing TEs in the XFL. Hampton does not have to do much to return value on this salary, and he should free up space to afford the studs.

Positional Strategy

As has been the routine for weeks now, you should bar-bell your WR plays, getting one towards the top of the salary guide, and one towards the bottom. This has been the best roster construction for a while, and will continue to be so as long as the RBs are priced so competitively.


Flex

Target worth paying up for: Jalen Tolliver ($7,000) vs. STL

Tolliver was a recommended play last week, and we are going right back to the well in Week 6. After his 95 yard performance with a touchdown, Tolliver has seen a jump in price. But is it enough? The Viper WR is fourth in the entire league in receiving, yet comes in as the 13th highest-priced wideout. That discrepancy is one to take advantage of. Tolliver is an upper-tier play, but won’t break the bank, which should help him fit into a wide variety of lineup builds. It helps Tolliver that Nick Truesdell (shoulder) was limited in Tuesday’s practice. Should he fail to suit up, that would give a nice boost to Tolliver’s target potential.

Best value: Saeed Blacknall ($4,500) at SEA

This play is dependent on the health of Nelson Spruce (knee) who has missed the last two games and hasn’t practiced since prior to Week 3. If he is out, expect Blacknall to continue to carve out a nice role in the Wildcat offense. He had seven targets in Week 5, and he has caught a touchdown in two straight games since returning from an injury of his own. Blacknall saw more snaps than every other Wildcat WR in Week 5. This appears to be an absolute bargain, and it should be fine to play both he and Hampton together since Johnson has been throwing the ball so well.

Positional Strategy

After a couple of weeks of diverting, I think I am back to going with only WR/TEs in the flex. The Dallas RBs have a lot less appeal with Philip Nelson ($7,600) starting at QB, and there aren’t a lot of other situations worth taking advantage of. For now, the WRs have more weekly upside, and should be the contents of the flex.


Defense

Target worth paying up for: Defenders ($4,700) vs. DAL

The Defenders finally responded last week with a big win against the Battlehawks. They have played far better at home than they have on the road, and the Renegades will have to come to their place this weekend. In two games as a starter, Nelson has thrown zero touchdowns, three interceptions, and taken six sacks. The Defenders are four-point favorites, and Dallas should be throwing early and often. This is a great fantasy spot.

Best value: Vipers ($3,600) vs. STL

The Vipers are pretty cheap relative to other defenses, and are only 3.5 point underdogs at home. They have played much better football of late, though Tampa did get shellacked defensively by the Wildcats in Week 5. The Battlehawks present a much easier opponent. They do not have the same explosiveness in the pass game, and rely heavily on the run. St. Louis has allowed 12 sacks on the year on just 161 drop-backs. That 7.5% sack rate is perfect to attack, especially if the Vipers can get up early and force the Battlehawks to pass.

Positional Strategy

Save as much as you can in cash game. Defensive scoring has been all over the map this year, and you really aren’t gaining a ton in median outcome by paying up. You will, however, gain some upside. This means that paying up is a viable means to an end in tournaments.


Key news to monitor on DK Live:

De’Veon Smith (foot; $8,000)
James Butler (foot; $6,900)
Jacques Patrick (back; $6,800)

Nelson Spruce (knee; $10,600)
Sammie Coates (hamstring; $5,400)

Nick Truesdell (shoulder; $4,600)

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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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