XFL Fantasy Football: Gdula's Game Notes for Week 1
There isn't an abundance of information out there on the XFL just yet, but we can dig into past production at various levels and bookmaker info to project for Week 1 to build better XFL lineups on FanDuel.
Core Plays: Players suited for all types of daily fantasy games -- cash games and tournaments -- and players to target when building a main lineup.
Secondary Plays: Players who have good matchups or situations but are overpriced. Or players who are affordable but have tough matchups.
Tournament Plays: Players with paths to production but who are either overpriced or have tough matchups and who rate out with low production floors. Not everybody is in play in DFS, but players without the best prices and matchups still deserve consideration in large-field tournaments.
Seattle Dragons at DC Defenders (-7.5)
This is a potential blowout spot here with the Dragons looking like one of the worst teams in the league -- if not the worst. DC is expected to contend.
Seattle Dragons Offense Notes
- Expected to be the worst team in the XFL, the Dragons also look to be a fairly run-heavy team from the onset, but they are underdogs.
- Starting quarterback Brandon Silvers ($16) is a Troy product with suspect collegiate production. In the AAF, Silvers averaged 6.4 yards per attempt but ranked third in quarterback rating.
- Running back Kenneth Farrow ($17) has NFL experience and ranked second in the AAF in rushing yards but did so at a lowly 3.51 yards per carry clip. Game script doesn't set up for Farrow to thrive, but he could be leaned on early and often in Seattle's run game.
- Kasen Williams ($17) is an intriguing Week 1 play if the Dragons abandon the run due to trailing. Williams projects as my WR7 for the week among the four-game slate.
- After Williams, there isn’t a lot on the depth chart: Keenan Reynolds ($13) is a converted collegiate quarterback and very well may receive WR2 treatment, followed by Austin Proehl ($14) and Alonzo Moore ($12). Colin Jeter ($12) is a road underdog tight end, so he doesn't grade out very well.
DC Defenders Offense Notes
- The Defenders are a mid-level team in the XFL based on bookmaker information. Pep Hamilton's squad doesn't inherently look likely to separate from the pack offensively in efficiency. They do not have a tight end on their roster.
- Cardale Jones ($20) has NFL Draft equity but little else to inspire confidence relative to some other quarterbacks on the slate. He rates as a mid-level play but is a home favorite who should be throwing in efficient situations.
- The Defenders' best running back -- Jhurell Pressley ($18) -- led the AAF in rushing yards and averaged 53.8 yards per game on the ground. He's one of the best running back plays on the opening weekend slate, assuming the role is what we may expect.
- Rashad Ross ($15) ranked third in the AAF in receptions, second in yardage, and first in receiving touchdowns, but don't sleep on Malachi Dupre ($18), a seventh-round pick from the 2017 NFL Draft. Both receivers hold value in what should be positive game script.
- With few relevant tight ends on the roster, the big-bodied Simmie Cobbs ($12) could be a touchdown threat as a home favorite.
Core Plays: Jhurell Pressley (RB, DC), Malachi Dupre (WR, DC), Rashad Ross (WR, DC), Kasen Williams (WR, SEA)
Secondary Plays: Kenneth Farrow (RB, SEA), Cardale Jones (QB, DC), Keenan Reynolds (WR, SEA)
Tournament Plays: Brandon Silvers (QB, SEA), Simmie Cobbs (WR, DC)
Los Angeles Wildcats at Houston Roughnecks (-5.5)
The Wildcats own better championship odds than the Roughnecks, but playing in Houston could give the Roughnecks a Week 1 edge. They're 5.5-point favorites.
LA Wildcats Offense Notes
- A team with middling expectations, they could have tons of fantasy appeal.
- Quarterback Josh Johnson ($21) is nearly 34 years old but projects as a dual-threat option in a high-paced format despite his status as a slight underdog. He's in the conversation for the QB1 on the four-game slate and is the most expensive player on the board. However, he didn’t practice on Wednesday and could sit. Then it’d be Jalan McClendon ($15) or Chad Kanoff ($11) at quarterback. It sounds like McClendon will get the nod. He had 13 drop backs in the 2019 preseason and was sacked 3 times.
- Elijah Hood ($20) should handle a heavy workload but probably will be susceptible to lost goal-line touches to Johnson throughout the season.
- Jordan-Elijah Smallwood ($19) is a big body (6'2", 225 pounds) out of Oklahoma who should lead the team in targets. He's about an average size-adjusted athlete with very little collegiate production; Adonis Jennings ($16), Nelson Spruce ($14), and Tre McBride ($13) were all more productive college players but don’t project as well athletically.
Houston Roughnecks Offense Notes
- June Jones as head coach inspires some confidence in the offense.
- The Roughnecks are rolling with former Indianapolis Colts practice squad member Phillip Walker ($18) at quarterback. He broke out early at Temple but wasn't particularly efficient as a passer. He ran a good bit in college, though. For that reason, he makes sense as a four-game-slate play as a home favorite.
- NFL flameout Andre Williams ($19) will likely lead the charge at running back, good news for him as a run-first option as a home favorite. De'Angelo Henderson ($13) figures to take over the receiving-down work, though that's not really part of his game. It just definitely isn’t what Williams does well.
- Houston carries no tight ends on the roster, and the odds-on favorite to lead in targets is Sammie Coates ($20), the 87th overall pick (third round) in the NFL Draft in 2015. Kahlil Lewis ($16) is a small option (5'10", 190) with poor adjusted athleticism, but he could soak up targets. Raymond Bolden ($15) is a converted college tight end/defensive end, so I'd prefer Cam Phillips ($13) as the third option here.
Core Plays: Josh Johnson (QB, LA -- if he plays), Phillip Walker (QB, HOU), Andre Williams (RB, HOU), Sammie Coates (WR, HOU)
Secondary Plays: Elijah Hood (RB, LA), Jordan-Elijah Smallwood (WR, LA), Kahlil Lewis (WR, HOU)
Tournament Plays: Cam Phillips (WR, HOU), Adonis Jennings (WR, LA), De'Angelo Henderson (RB, HOU), Chad Kanoff (QB, LA)
Tampa Bay Vipers (-2) at New York Guardians
The Vipers are getting love this year and can be found as road favorites, which says a lot about their potential.
Tampa Bay Vipers Offense Notes
- The most exciting offense in the XFL led by head coach Marc Trestman and quarterback Aaron Murray ($18), the Vipers should be chalky for a reason.
- Murray was a fifth-round NFL pick back in 2014 with elite college production. He's the QB1 in my projections for the week.
- The pass-happy nature of this offense puts more on the receivers than the running backs. Jalen Tolliver ($18) is a 6'3", 209-pound receiver from Arkansas-Monticello. He rates second among receivers in my model. Daniel Williams ($16) is 6'3", 201 with above-average adjusted athleticism. I like both. Reece Horn ($13) was very productive at Indianapolis but ran a 4.72-second 40 at 6'3" and 213 pounds.
- Tight end Nick Truesdell is 6'5", 249 pounds and could be a touchdown threat. He was selected fifth overall in the skill position draft, ahead of all running backs. That’s telling.
- De'Veon Smith ($16) is the team's RB1 but didn't break out at Michigan and posted below-average athleticism scores. The passing game is more interesting here.
New York Guardians Offense Notes
- Matt McGloin ($19) has NFL experience but was quite bad at that level. Head coach Kevin Gilbride did actually have some decent NFL offenses under his belt. I'd imagine people shy away from McGloin in favor of Murray, so that makes him a pivot play for tournaments. He ranks well enough in my model not to write off.
- Big-bodied Tim Cook III ($17) from Oregon State should see lead back treatment, as the depth chart behind him is quite thin. He had very little collegiate production but possesses decent athleticism. He could struggle if Tampa runs away with it, though it’s worth noting that he averaged 4.91 yards per carry in the AAF on 56 attempts.
- Mekale McKay ($17) is 6'5" and 201 pounds out of Cincinnati with nothing particularly impressive in his profile, but he averaged 17.1 yards per catch and scored 4 times on 22 receptions in the AAF. Joe Horn Jr. ($15) rates out as tiny (5'10", 174) with poor athleticism (76.5 height-adjusted speed score). Colby Pearson ($13) and Teo Redding ($10) were the most productive college receivers on the roster. Redding received camp buzz.
Core Plays: Aaron Murray (QB, TB), Jalen Tolliver (WR, TB), Nick Truesdell (TE, TB)
Secondary Plays: Tim Cook III (RB, NY), Mekale McKay (WR, NY), Daniel Williams (WR, TB)
Tournament Plays: Matt McGloin (QB, NY), Reece Horn (WR, TB), Joe Horn Jr. (WR, NY), Colby Pearson (WR, NY), Teo Redding (WR, NY)
St. Louis BattleHawks at Dallas Renegades (-10)
The BattleHawks should be a bad XFL team but will probably stick with a ground-and-pound attack. That’ll be tested as they face a strong Dallas team. Dallas is the biggest favorite on the board.
St. Louis BattleHawks Offense Notes
- Jordan Ta’Amu ($17) is a fine enough quarterback to believe in the St. Louis offense a little. This is one of those spots where I differ from consensus. They should be trailing, and they could throw, which is not the worst situation for two- and four-game slates throughout the season.
- Christine Michael ($18) is a heavy road underdog, which calls into question his role, but he may be in the best overall environment for any XFL RB1, so I still like him despite his team's expectation.
- The BattleHawks have two big-bodied receivers: Alonzo Russell ($16) and L’Damian Washington ($13). Russell is 6’4”, 218 with 4.54 speed. Washington averaged 16.7 yards per catch on 15 catches in the AAF -- boosted by an 83-yarder -- but he has 4.46 speed and is 6’4” and 216 pounds.
- De’Mornay Pierson-El ($15) is just 5’9” and 194 but could have a floor. The former returner at Nebraska could get some creative looks. He put up 11.5 yards per catch in the AAF.
- Marcus Lucas ($11) was productive at Missouri for a tight end, but he doesn’t fit the script we should be seeking for a tight end (he’s a road underdog on a team that may not score). He's the only tight end other than Truesdell who seems like a worthwhile Week 1 target.
Dallas Renegades Offense Notes
- We may not know if Landry Jones ($20) is ready at quarterback. If he doesn’t play, it’ll probably be Philip Nelson ($16), who was a backup in the AAF and doesn’t really give us enough savings to love.
- As favorites, the Renegades could lean on Cameron Artis-Payne ($19), and he’s my RB1 for Week 1. Lance Dunbar ($15) doesn’t figure to see elevated run as a favorite but should be involved as a pass-catcher with play volume ramped up in the XFL format.
- Jeff Badet ($19) was the fourth player drafted in the skill position draft and has 4.39 speed at 5’11”, 182 pounds. He should be the team’s WR1 by a good margin this year.
- The other receivers -- Flynn Nagel ($17), Freddie Martino ($14), and Joshua Crockett ($12) -- don’t do much to stand out from one another. This should be a run-first matchup with a lot of focus on Badet and Artis-Payne.
Core Plays: Cameron Artis-Payne (RB, DAL), Christine Michael (RB, STL), Jeff Badet (WR, DAL), Alonzo Russell (WR, STL)
Secondary Plays: Jordan Ta’Amu (QB, STL), De’Mornay Pierson-El (WR, STL),
Tournament Plays: L’Damian Washington (WR, STL), Marcus Lucas (TE, STL), Philip Nelson (QB, DAL), Lance Dunbar (RB, DAL)