By Sean Weymouth @delrayboston
The title above references the tag line attached to Wrestlemania 3 way back in 1987. XFL DFS is kinda game changing. This is my first DFS article on the XFL and I am going to treat this a bit like none of us have played XFL DFS before – it will be easier that way for me to talk about my main strategy. I want to stress here though, the way both sites are treating XFL contests, you really have to know your stuff. Not just stats and analytics either (it’s only week 3, the sample size is not big enough). So my first strategy is simple – WATCH the XFL. If this is your first time playing XFL DFS I might recommend watching the games on Saturday and playing on Sunday only contests. The XFL has several rules that differ from traditional NFL and it causes a faster paced game that has favored passing. But that doesn’t mean every offense is an air raid either. So how do games with a lot of passing but not necessarily a lot of deep ball throwing, become the fast paced competitive games that have people buzzing – and wait, not a lot of run plays? What? (Ahem) I will say it again – you need to watch the XFL. The daily fantasy gods demand it – and Draft Kings and FanDuel won’t let you get away with not watching –
Don’t believe me? In Draft Kings classic lineups, the words Tight End don’t even exist. Not in the lineup and no player is designated as such. This kinda make sense since, in case you don’t know, there are XFL teams that don’t actually roster a Tight End. So – Draft Kings asks you for 1 QB, 1 RB, 2 WR, 2 FLEX and 1 DST. Whether a player is a WR or TE, to Draft Kings calls you a WR and the Flex spots can be RB & WR.
FanDuel actually does recognize players as Tight Ends but NO DEFENSE! FanDuel roster construction layout 1 QB, 1 RB, 2 WR/TE, 2 Flex – Offense, Offense, Offense!! (I like it!)
So like I was saying, sure you can look at 2 weeks worth of stats and analysis to make a pick but I think if you watch XFL games you will get a better feel for your roster construction on whatever site you choose. Come Week 7, I will lean on analytics a lot more like I would in an NFL Season but for right now, as much as we are figuring out how to play XFL – the players kinda are too. The ones and the teams who have figured it out, that’s who I’m going to highlight and tell you to play in week 3 (spoiler!) but watch the XFL, you’ll be a better DFS player for it.
Also before I dive to much further, i just have to say: I have played the last two weeks on DK and the DC Defenders DST has helped me cash each week. Roll with the hot hand
Ok let’s look at some league leaders and some usage stats you need to know – these are the top line plays I am looking at. Matchups aside, here are the emerging stars of the XFL through week 2:
PJ Walker (Houston Roughnecks) – 7 Touchdown Passes in 2 weeks. I mean let’s go! 62.3% Passer Rating – he’s thrown 64 times in two weeks guys. Oh and only 1 INT.
Cardale Jones (DC Defenders) 511 Passing yards leads the league. The Defenders are one of the emerging teams that could win a championship. Jones has 4 TD passes, 1 INT, but he is the focal point of the offense. I like him.
Jordan Ta’amu (St Louis Battlehawks) 78.1% passer rating he has thrown the ball 64 times over two games. He has 4 touchdown passes, a shade under 500 passing yards. Aces
Landry Jones (Dallas Renegades) made his XFL debut last week and did not disappoint 28 – 40, 305 Yards, 1 TD, 2 INT. Feels like a perfectly laid out Landry Jones game right Steelers fans?)
RB Studs. – here is a little strategy tip. You want to roster a running back that is catching the ball out of the backfield and running between the tackles. If that advantage is heightened in the NFL it’s on steroids in the XFL. There are a few that ar redoing it better than the rest.
Cameron Artis-Payne (Dallas Renegades) after a rough week 1 the former NFLer really emerged as the backfield leader in Dallas with 99 yards on the ground, 32 in the air and 2 rushing scores. Gotta like that.
James Butler (Houston Roughnecks) tale of Two Cities between week 1 & 2 with Butker but he has shown his chops as both a runner and a passer and has 3 TDs in 2 weeks. I like those odds
Jacques Patrick (Tampa Bay Vipers) Patrick is listed as the #2 back in Tampa but he took a major step in the right direction in Week 2 taking his share of the carries for 73 yards and also catching 3 balls for 18. I would expect this time share to continue and Patrick is the back to target. He also comes in at a nice Value on both sites too. By the way his running mate De’Veon Smith is a solid pick too. I just like Patrick because he is a little cheaper on both sites.
Lance Dunbar (Dallas Renegades) Dunbar is #2 behind Artis-Payne but has shown real Dual Threat capability. Receiving 5 and 6 targets respectively over the first two weeks. Absolutely could have broken any of his 6 rushes off too. I wouldn’t stack him with Artis-Payne but Dunbar is definitely a consideration.
Receiver: they are all studs. Hahaha. I am going to highlight a few here, but really if you are considering a value play – just look at his target line. In this league if he is targeted more than 5 times per game, that is a guy I am looking at to save some money here. Opportunity in this league isn’t as concentrated just yet. We’ll get to how I’m building my lineups shortly but here are some Receivers I am looking at:
Nelson Spruce (LA Wildcats) no denying that Spruce is becoming a security blanket for QB Josh Johnson but that’s ok if it resulting in 3 TD catches in 3 weeks. He is a lineup starter for sure for me. Additionally Spruce has had no less than 63 yards each week too. It’s Week 2 of a brand new Football League. Nelson Spruce is a lock and load for me.
De’Mournay Pierson-El (St Louis Battlehawks) slot receivers are big deals in this league with the manner most teams are running their game plan and there may not be any more prime example of an XFL receiver than Pierson-El with 13 receptions on 15 Targets 114 yards and a score. Last week’s TD catch was especially impactful. He’s a lineup builder for me for sure. By the way – isn’t Superman also an -El just sayin’
DeAndre Thompkins (DC Defenders) Thompkins misses week 1 with a foot injury but showed up in week 2 ready to go – 6 of 9 for 92 and a score. Boom. Set it and forget it. DC Defenders are on a roll!
Austin Proehl (Seattle Dragons) In week 2 everything the Dragons did offensively was garbage. Proehl included. So I need you to look at the guy and the team we saw in week 1, here in week 3. 5 for 10 for 88 and 2 scores. You need to keep an eye on the Dragon’s quarterback situation this week as things are-a-changing, or not. Either way, I think Proehl is going to be a big part of their game plan and he should be yours.
Ok my strategy here is to honestly look at every contest as I do for NFL Showdown Slates. If you have read any of my articles on those you will know what I mean. I start my builds at QB and then build and roster those players around him that are most likely to help that QB succeed and in turn everyone scores more fantasy points. If that QB doesn’t target his running backs, I don’t stack with his running backs. If the QB is only targeting his backs, I don’t stack with his receivers. There are only a few teams I’d consider “well rounded” so for week 3 I think I will use this as my step 1.
In showdowns I like a classic 2-3 guys from 1 team vs 1 stud from the other. Look at that principle here, just in your classic format. If you are stacking a QB and his two receivers (who also could be a RB or TE) use your two flex spots to do so. Then run that lineup back with the stud on the opposing team who you think will help to keep they game competitive and you are getting fantasy points on both sides of the ball of the game.
If my running back isn’t being selected to stack with my QB then you can bet I am picking the best dual threat option on the board. With only 1 true running back spot available on both sites do yourself the favor and get a guy who can get it done in the air and on the ground. The way these games are played, I believe 100 yard rushing games will be outliers and winning DFS lineups will ultimately look like a QB with 5 (or 6 on FD) receivers.
Also in week 3, pick your offensive weapons first and your defense last. Things are too volatile right now in the league to say a dominant performance in week 2 may end up being the norm for a team. Except for the Defenders DST I mean. Those guys are great.
Which leads me into my game theories for this weekend which I will touch on and wrap this bigger, better look at the XFL up.
Houston Roughnecks vs Tampa Bay Vipers Saturday 2pm ABC The Vipers have played their games with two things in mind – Power Running and Stingy Defense. Now they get to play QB PJ Walker and the Roughnecks whose Offensive Line is actually yet to allow a QB pressure in 2 weeks. I don’t expect this to hold up of course. What I see here is Walker and Roughnecks to open this up with a lot of run and shoot and if the Vipers can’t get to him, it will force Tampa Bay off their run first game plan very quickly forcing them to have to throw the ball which will be great news for the Roughnecks Defense who generate more QB pressure than any other team in the XFL. I like Walker and his receivers here. Final score Houston 24 Tampa Bay 10
Dallas Renegades vs Seattle Dragons 2pm FOX so this is a very interesting game where you have Dallas who loves the draw play, generating the most yards before contact per rushing attempt, playing Seattle who allows the least amount of yards before contact when defending the run. Kinda like a Irresistible force running into a Immovable object (WM3 Reference) – Good luck. This is a stay away spot for me. Final Score: Dallas 18 Seattle 17
NY Guardians vs St Louis Battlehawks 3pm Sunday ESPN so your NY Guardians have an interesting stat of having the highest average hurried drop back by opposing QBs and they get to face Ta’am who has the league leading highest completion rate through 2 games a ludicrous 82%. I believe this will be an exciting game with a lot of points scored. Get me all of it. Final Score Battlehawks 42 Guardians 38.
DC Defenders vs LA Wildcats Sunday 6pm FS1 as I have mentioned I really like the Defenders defense who are allowing a league low 54% completion rate to opposing QBs going against my man Nelson Spruce and his QB Josh Johnson who really likes to pass. Considering the Defenders are not all defense but have a great passing game themselves, led by Rashad Ross and his 2.94 yards per reception – I’m going Final Score Defenders 38 Wild 24
Good Luck in your contests!