XFL Fantasy Football: Gdula's Game Notes for Week 5
What's in store for Week 5 in the XFL? Well, who the heck knows, honestly. The league has been all sorts of unpredictable and all sorts of fun in its own way. While we can't fully know everything there is to know, we can study up and still have an advantage when building our fantasy lineups.
Here are notes on all eight teams -- snap rates, efficiency, and market shares -- to help you build your XFL lineups on FanDuel for Week 5.
All injury news from the XFL's official injury report, unless otherwise noted.
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 Houston Roughnecks (-12.5)
This is quite possibly the XFL's best team in Houston against the worst team in Seattle, and I don't think you'd catch much flak from saying that. This game very easily has blowout risk, but Houston still manages to sling the ball around behind their stud quarterback -- that rolling clock sure helps them rack up points.
Seattle Dragons Offense Notes
- The big tweak to watch for is at quarterback for Seattle. BJ Daniels ($17) is priced up to account for his Week 4 showing when he posted 16.4 FanDuel points while rushing for 84 yards and throwing for 100. He has dual-threat potential but isn't cheap, is facing a top-two defense in yards per play, and is playing on the same slate as Phillip "PJ" Walker ($23). Daniels has thrown 11 times and completed 5 passes on the year, so with the tiny implied team total (16.5 points), we shouldn't go overboard.
- The one positive in Seattle's offense is their concentrated targets. Keenan Reynolds ($15) has a 24.3% target share, and Austin Proehl ($17) has a 22.4% target share. Reynolds has cleared 94% of the snaps in all four weeks, and Proehl has been above 82% in each of the past two weeks. Reynolds is tied for third with eight targets 20-plus yards downfield, via ProFootballFocus.
- Dontez Byrd ($11) has six downfield targets (tied for eighth in the XFL) and should play around half the snaps in a game where Seattle throws more than normal.
- The backfield is a three-man split, and the low touchdown expectation makes it hard to like any of the three. Kenneth Farrow ($15) has led the backfield in snap rate in all three weeks and was the first Dragon running back to top a 42.0% snap rate when he played 54.3% in Week 4.
Houston Roughnecks Offense Notes
- PJ Walker ($23) has averaged 28.7 FanDuel points per game and has had at least 21 in all four. Seattle's defense ranks seventh in PFF's coverage rating and in yards per attempt allowed. This really isn't a spot where we need to overthink things.
- Walker's top option is Cam Phillips ($21), who has a 22.6% target share and has played at least 91% of the snaps in all four weeks. Additionally, Phillips has eight downfield targets, tied for third. He's been an elite asset. Stacking he and Walker is pricey, but it's not impossible, and on the Saturday slate, it's really appealing to force.
- Behind Phillips, we have Kahlil Lewis ($16; 21.2%) and Nick Holley ($17; 16.1%) in terms of target share. Holley is of particular note because he has played 89.1%, 100.0%, and 100.0% of the snaps. Lewis (9.35) and Holley (9.30) are top-five among receivers/tight ends on the Saturday slate in FanDuel points per game.
- Running back James Butler ($16) has seen his snap rate fall in each week (71.0%, 65.5%, 51.7%, and 49.2%), and he has averaged just 8.5 carries per game while playing for the XFL's most pass-happy team. Butler has returned fewer than 40 rushing yards in three of four games.
Core Plays: PJ Walker (QB, HOU), Cam Phillips (WR, HOU)
Secondary Plays: James Butler (RB, HOU), Kahlil Lewis (WR, HOU), Nick Holley (WR, HOU)
Tournament Plays: BJ Daniels (QB, SEA), Keenan Reynolds (WR, SEA), Austin Proehl (WR, SEA), Kenneth Farrow (RB, SEA), Trey Williams (RB, SEA)
New York Guardians at Dallas Renegades (-8.0)
We could be seeing some second-string action at quarterback on both sides of the ball, as Matt McGloin ($14) missed last week for the Guardians and Luis Perez ($15) started. Landry Jones ($18) is set to miss multiple weeks, setting Dallas back a ways if they turn things back over to Philip Nelson ($16).
New York Guardians Offense Notes
- Luis Perez ($15) last week tallied 10.2 FanDuel points while throwing 26 times for 150 yards (5.8 yards per attempt) and a touchdown. Dallas ranks sixth in coverage grade and fourth in passing yards per attempt allowed while also ranking seventh in quarterback hit rate.
- Last week, no Guardians pass catcher had more than five targets (Colby Pearson ($14)). Mekale McKay ($15) and Jake Powell ($12) had four targets; Joe Horn Jr. ($12) had 3 targets. McKay, Powell, and Pearson are the best bets based on snap rate from Week 4, though the offense's ceiling is low: their implied team total is a weekend worst 14.5 points.
- Darius Victor ($14) led the backfield with 67.9% of the carries last week and played his typical 55.6% snap rate when healthy, but he has maxed out at 8.2 FanDuel points in this inefficient offense.
Dallas Renegades Offense Notes
- Among 12 qualified quarterbacks, Philip Nelson ($16) actually leads the XFL in completion rate at 76.1% on his 46 attempts. That sounds great, but he's last in yards per attempt (5.0). Helping matters, New York rates as the XFL's worst coverage defense by PFF and by passing yards per attempt allowed.
- Nelson, in Week 1, didn't give anyone more than 14.0% of his available targets, which is a deviation from what we saw from Landry Jones while healthy. In three games with Jones, tight end Donald Parham ($19) has a 23.1% target share to lead the team. Running backs Lance Dunbar ($17) and Cameron Artis-Payne ($17) as well as receiver Jeff Badet ($13) are tied for second at 15.7%. We could be dealing with a dispersed, less efficient offense with Nelson under center.
- Artis-Payne and Dunbar both have been fantasy relevant in recent weeks. CAP has averaged a 69.4% snap rate the past three weeks. Dunbar has been at 54.1% on average. Dallas has the second-highest implied team total of the weekend and are 8.0-point favorites at home, so both are more than fine plays and are the preferable exposure to Dallas this week.
Core Plays: Cameron Artis-Payne (RB, DAL), Lance Dunbar (RB, DAL)
Secondary Plays: Jeff Badet (WR, DAL), Donald Parham (TE, DAL)
Tournament Plays: Philip Nelson (QB, DAL), Luis Perez (QB, NY), Mekale McKay (WR, NY), Colby Pearson (WR, NY), Jake Powell (TE, NY), Darius Victor (RB, NY)
St. Louis BattleHawks (-4.0) at DC Defenders
After outscoring two cellar-dwelling opponents 58-19 in the first two weeks, the Defenders have been outscored 64-9 over the past two weeks. The BattleHawks are now 3-1, losing to Houston by just four points and outscoring other opponents 67-34.
St. Louis BattleHawks Offense Notes
- St. Louis runs the ball a lot. Their pass rate is 41.1%, well shy of the XFL average of 59.4%. Jordan Ta'amu ($20) has rushed for 77, 32, 14, and 63 yards through four games and has cleared 200 passing yards and 20 FanDuel points in three of the four as well.
- The run-heavy team had featured Matt Jones ($16) and Christine Michael ($14) the past two weeks but did get Keith Ford ($14) back in the fold. Week 4's snap rates for them were 51.3% for Michael, 43.6% for Jones, and 28.2% for Ford. Jones led in carries (15) and Michael was close behind (12). Ford had just three. Jones and Michael are in play again at lowered prices.
- The BattleHawks' lead target getter is De'Mornay Pierson-El ($18), who has 22.5% of the targets. L'Damian Washington ($14) is close behind at 19.6% but comes at a noticeable discount, and the snap rates are drastically different for the two. Pierson-El has played 77.3%, 59.1%, 33.3%, and 47.4% to start the season. Washington's snap rates have been 96.0%, 85.2%, 93.7%, and 97.4%
- Tight end Marcus Lucas ($12) has a 16.7% target share, and Alonzo Russell ($14) is at 13.7%. These four are all in play and are the only relevant pass-catchers for St. Louis.
DC Defenders Offense Notes
- Cardale Jones ($17) has averaged 87.5 passing yards over the past two games, a span in which he has had 0 passing touchdowns and 5 interceptions. Both of those games were on the road, and he's back at home, but St. Louis does rank second in coverage rating. There's bounce back appeal at low ownership, but he's the QB3 on the Sunday slate at best.
- In three games with DeAndre Thompkins ($13) active, he has played at least 63.8% of the snaps. He is third on the team in this split in target share (18.5%). Leading the team is Eli Rogers ($15) at 25.9%, followed by Rashad Ross ($14) at 22.2%. The concentrated targets help us with the notion of buying back in on the Defenders' offense.
- Donnel Pumphrey ($13) has led the backfield in snap rate in three straight games, twice surpassing 50% of the snaps. He has yet to get to double-digit FanDuel points but should see receiving work (3.3 per game since Week 2) as an underdog.
Core Plays: Jordan Ta'amu (QB, STL), Matt Jones (RB, STL), L'Damian Washington (WR, STL)
Secondary Plays: Christine Michael (RB, STL), De'Mornay Pierson-El (WR, STL), Eli Rogers (WR, DC), Rashad Ross (WR, DC)
Tournament Plays: Cardale Jones (QB, DC), Alonzo Russell (WR, STL), Marcus Lucas (TE, STL), DeAndre Thompkins (WR, DC), Donnel Pumphrey (WR, DC)
Tampa Bay Vipers at Los Angeles Wildcats (-2.0)
After a 39-9 win against DC, the Wildcats dropped a 17-14 game in New York in Week 4. Tampa Bay finally got into the win column in Week 4 with a 25-0 beatdown against DC. This game's spread is closest of the weekend and one of two games without a spread of at least eight points.
Tampa Bay Vipers Offense Notes
- Taylor Cornelius ($18) ranks eighth among 12 qualified quarterbacks in quarterback rating and sixth in yards per attempt, but the Vipers do lead the league in offensive plays run. Cornelius has run for 36 and 33 yards in his past two starts and has cleared 21 FanDuel points in each of those games.
- Over the past three weeks, the Vipers have focused their targets on Dan Williams ($17), Jalen Tolliver ($16), and Reece Horn ($14), each of whom have at least 20 targets. Williams leads with 22, and Tolliver and Horn each have 20.
- The Wildcats do rank third in coverage grade and fifth in passing yards per attempt, but there's some back-and-forth appeal to this game.
- De'Veon Smith ($16) broke free for the XFL's first 100-yard rushing game last week and also has had 3.3 targets per game since Week 2's quarterback switch. Smith has played at least half of the team's snaps in every game and at least 61% in three of the four.
Los Angeles Wildcats Offense Notes
- Josh Johnson ($21) has totaled 17.14, 25.72, and 22.40 FanDuel points through three starts despite rushing for only 11 total yards. Johnson leads the XFL in yards per attempt (8.1) and gets a mid-level pass defense in the Vipers.
- There's been a recent shift in passing game work with Tre McBride ($20) seeing extended work. In Week 3, he had 6 targets for 109 yards and 2 touchdowns despite playing only 16 snaps. In Week 4, he played 60 snaps (96.8%) and had 12 targets for 125 yards and a touchdown. In this two-week sample, McBride has accounted for 29.5% of the Wildcats' targets.
- Second on the team in this stretch has been Jordan-Elijah Smallwood ($16; 14.8%), and only tight end Brandon Barnes ($13) at 11.5% is also in the double-digit target share range. Their snap rate suggests they're the safest bets after McBride, but Adonis Jennings ($12) is still in the mix.
- The running back situation has been fluid. Elijah Hood ($12) had played 70.5% and 64.4% of snaps to open the season. Martez Carter ($15) played 61.0% in Week 3 but missed Week 4. Hood played -- but had just 8.1% of the snaps. DuJuan Harris ($11) vaulted to the top of the backfield; he played 71.0% of the snaps and split 11 carries between he (5) and Larry Rose ($11; 5) and Hood (1).
Core Plays: Josh Johnson (QB, LA), Tre McBride (WR, LA)
Secondary Plays: Jordan-Elijah Smallwood (WR, LA), Dan Williams (WR, TB), Jalen Tolliver (WR, TB), De'Veon Smith (RB, TB)
Tournament Plays: Taylor Cornelius (QB, TB), Reece Horn (WR, TB), Brandon Barnes (TE, LA)