As COVID-19 sweeps the globe and sports leagues we normally cover suspend play, it currently looks like we’ll still have another week of XFL DFS picks. Seattle has already announced that they’ll play in an empty stadium, but it remains to be seen if that’s followed through upon for them and the rest of the league. Either way, I’ve done my research and I have to fill my time somehow. So I’ll break down this week’s slate of XFL games, Week 6 in their season, as if they’ll all go down as expected. With ratings diminishing, what better way is there to win over the public than playing in the face of every other league shutting down? So let’s get into the theoretical games we’ll hopefully see this weekend with the XFL Slant and Go for Week 6.
Houston Roughnecks (26.8 implied points) at New York Guardians (20.3 implied points)
Top HOU XFL DFS picks
- Thankfully, Cam Phillips got back on track last week with 10 catches for 122 yards on 13 targets and two touchdowns after a tough previous outing. He has yet to practice this week with a knee issue, but if he’s in, I’d have no issue getting to his price point again. Sammie Coates has been limited in practice and his absence likely opened things up even further for Phillips last week with his 13 targets, the most he’s had this season.
- Phillips, Sam Mobley and Nick Holley each had 40 routes last week with Coates out and Kahlil Lewis was down to 27 routes after he was uestionable for most of the week. Mobley would look strong again if Coates remains out after he had six catches for 95 yards on nine targets. Mobley in one start had a better game than all of Coates’ efforts thus far combined. The outside defenders, largely safeties A.J. Hendy and Andrew Soroh, will offer enough opportunities to Phillips that I would prioritize him over the other guys per usual. Jamar Summers is New York’s one decent corner as he gives up a 43.8 passer rating this year, and if he takes Phillips away, that likely means more production will go to Mobley/Coates and the slot guys.
- P.J. Walker had a solid outing last game with 351 yards passing and three touchdowns, but he was only the QB3 on the week behind Josh Johnson and Taylor Cornelius. I’ll continue to have some exposure for him, but there will be weeks like last where James Butler takes enough production off the table to make Walker less valuable. Walker is an elite passer, but there are cheaper guys who, as their offenses have started to click, have proven to have as much upside on a given week.
- The aforementioned James Butler continues to not see a ton of volume. But his touchdown equity is slate breaking, as it was last week. Butler had 21.9 fantasy points on 12 carries for 52 yards with two touchdowns and three catches on three targets for 17 yards. Butler is priced to be in play for tournaments and he faces a 63-graded run defense. But I wouldn’t be shocked if the offense flows back away from him at higher XFL DFS ownership than he likely should have.
Top NY XFL DFS picks
- Despite a big 30-12 win over Dallas, I still don’t have much faith in Luis Perez and the Guardians’ offense. Perez is respectable with a 76% accuracy rating, but he’s not doing a lot to open things up downfield with just 2.7 deep attempts per game, less than disposed start Matt McGloin’s four deep shots per game. Perez is a home underdog and perhaps the likelihood of trailing will provide him a shot at fantasy usefulness at a reasonable price. But I’d be more inclined to think Houston’s defense, which generates three sacks and 6.2 passes defensed per game, will get to him and cause issues.
- Some people picked up on Colby Pearson from the Slant and Go last week and I’m glad that one worked out for them because this offense still stinks. Mekale McKay had seven targets on a 97% snap share but only converted to them for three catches for 67 yards. Pearson turned his 82% snap share into five grabs for 95 yards and a touchdown. I’d be more inclined to go McKay’s way over Pearson this week following Pearson’s solid results. The slot matchup, where Persons runs a good portion of his routes, won’t be great against Deatrick Nichols. This could be a week McKay finally breaks through.
- I also wouldn’t sleep on Teo Redding after he seemingly passed Joe Horn on the depth chart. Redding ran 20 routes to Horn’s four and had 2.3 yards per route run as he caught three balls for 46 yards on five targets. He’s a cheap guy seeing work outside against a Houston defense who will have higher priority targets. He and route-heavy tight end Jake Powell could see more targets if Houston clamps down on the top guys.
- Darius Victor dominated the backfield once more with a 61% snap share and 15 carries to Tim Cook’s 33% snap share and nine carries. Justin Stockton also saw a drive or two before the game got out of hand. He’s been good when getting work and shows burst in the return game but New York seems inclined to mostly stick with the Victor/Cook slog that seems unlikely to have a ton of upside.
St. Louis BattleHawks (23.3 implied points) at Tampa Bay Vipers (19.8 implied points)
Top STL XFL DFS picks
- Jordan Ta’amu may be summoned into more work this week against a Tampa Bay team who also runs a lot of plays and has had some offensive success. I like Ta’amu at his price tag with his ability to run the ball even more in competitive games. He averages 5.4 rushes per game but has seen a high of 16 in a game this year.
- L’Damian Washington seems like the team’s top target with De’Mornay Pierson-El still in a slot snap time share. Washington’s 31 routes led the team with Alonzo Russell behind him with 30, Marcus Lucas 24 and Pierson-El 12. Washington isn’t a hugely impressive receiver, but he has a 75% catch rate on the year, sees one deep target per game and he turned all of that into five grabs for 114 yards on eight targets last week. Washington is a decent deal against Tampa Bay’s 55-graded coverage group by PFF and he should see Anthoula Kelly outside for parts, a player who gives up a 111.5 passer rating.
- Matt Jones and Christine Michael continue to be touchdown-dependent players who don’t see enough pass game work to trust each week. Jones had 13 carries for 70 yards with one catch on one target while Michael had 12 carries for 69 yards with one catch on one target. Neither got into the end zone, and as a result, neither got into double-digit fantasy points. It wouldn’t shock me if Jones has a big day at some point with his snap share still at 56% to Michael’s 36%.
Top TB XFL DFS picks
- Taylor Cornelius continues to cobble together big days thanks to the prolific run game that opens things up for him. Cornelius threw for 300 yards and two touchdowns (with two picks) while he ran seven times for 45 yards and a score. It’s his third straight week with a rushing touchdown. His results still feel a bit lucky but Tampa Bay’s league-high 74.6 plays per game open a lot of opportunity, even if he continues to turn the ball over at a Jameis Winston-esque 4.3% interception rate.
- Reece Horn is in a good situation to continue his hot outing last week with a matchup in the slot against Darius Hillary. Hillary allows a 118.6 passer rating on the year and Horn seemingly benefited from Nick Truesdell’s return that drew attention away from him. Horn saw 11 targets last week and turned that into nine catches for 90 yards and a touchdown. Truesdell getting healthier could hurt a little, but I liked Horn early on and he seems like he may finally hit his XFL DFS stride.
- Jalen Tolliver played 100% of the snaps as he ran 41 routes, more than Dan Williams’ 40 and Horn’s 37. I’m not crazy about the matchups outside for Tampa Bay but it’s hard to argue with exposure to Tolliver or Williams. Tolliver particularly seems like he shouldn’t be priced substantially less than Williams. Williams sees 7.6 targets per game to Tolliver’s seven and they both see 1.6 deep targets per game. I like Horn as the cheapest option, but this is a competent group rising with the play volume tide.
- The run game remains Tampa Bay’s priority with a 50.4% rush rate on the year and 165.6 rushing yards per game. DeVeon Smith is expensive, but with Jacques Patrick out of practice so far this week after he exited the last game, he could possibly be more useful. Tarean Folston saw a few touches, primarily out of shotgun, after Patrick got hurt and Smith would likely be a true bell-cow back if Patrick misses. Watch this situation closely as the week goes on.
Dallas Renegades (15.8 implied points) at DC Defenders (19.8 implied points)
Top DAL XFL DFS picks
- Landry Jones remains out so we should see another week of Phillip Nelson ruining this offense. Nelson was wildly inaccurate last week with a 57% accuracy rating that was only better than Cardale Jones before he left DC’s game. DC’s defense just shut down a much more potent St. Louis squad at home so I don’t have much love in my heart for Nelson despite his low price.
- Much like a rising tide raises all boats, a falling tide of Phillip Nelson will sink them. Flynn Nagel was Dallas’s leading fantasy player last week with 10.6 fantasy points with seven catches for 46 yards on nine targets. Donald Parham also had nine targets but caught just four for 34 yards. DC gets a 71 coverage grade from PFF and doesn’t have many obvious weaknesses other than Desmond Lawrence outside with the 1.9 yards per coverage snap and 100.4 passer rating he allows. But I don’t trust Nelson enough to get the ball there or any of Dallas’s outside receivers being able to take advantage.
- Dallas is already a low run volume team with a 29% rush rate so things could be even worse for their talented and high-priced backs. Cameron Artis-Payne and Lance Dunbar had just four targets each while Artis-Payne had six rushes to Dunbar’s two. DC has a 58-graded run defense by PFF but the Air Raid offense seems unlikely to fully capitalize on that. I’m not terribly inclined for these guys this week other than some tournament exposure in the hopes Dallas recognizes how much worse Nelson makes this offense.
Top DC XFL DFS picks
- Cardale Jones was benched for Tyree Jackson after a pick last week, but weirdly, coach Pep Hamilton said that was the plan all along. Jackson came in after the third series and was equally bad but Jones allegedly will return to start again. I would avoid the pass game unless we get serious clarity before the slates start. It’s a good theoretical situation against Dallas’s 60 coverage grade but any chance of a time share could kill lineups, and similarly, Jackson isn’t guaranteed time necessarily if Jones somehow plays well.
- The receivers here may be screwed because of the quarterback situation. I don’t see how you trust their guys with their price points where they are. Khari Lee’s three targets were the most of the receiving group while Eli Rogers led the team with 16 routes. I don’t think this spot versus Dallas is one where they’ll push the pass game to do a ton more.
- Jhurell Pressley shockingly re-emerged as the lead back with a 48% snap share to Donnell Pumphrey’s 47% as both guys had 15 carries. Pressley led the team in targets with four despite just seven routes run. He responded with over 100 rushing yards and he now averages 4.5 yards per carry to Pumphrey’s 3.7 yards per carry on the year. Pressley looked like the better back based off his AAF track record, and with the offense in disarray, it should be a time share but one that will likely lean on the run game. The team is up to a 51% rush rate on the year.
Los Angeles Wildcats (24.3 implied points) at Seattle Dragons (21.3 implied points)
Top LA XFL DFS picks
- Much like the previous week with Cam Phillips, Tre McBride seemed due for negative regression. I still walked right into that buzz saw with my lineups and McBride ended up third on the team in routes as he caught three balls for 35 yards and a touchdown on six targets. Jordan Smallwood and Saeed Blacknall both ran more routes than McBride with Smallwood primarily running out of the slot. Blacknall led the team with 18.4 fantasy points on three catches for 78 yards and a touchdowns while Smallwood had a respectable 13.6 fantasy points on four catches for 86 yards.
- The receiver corps is a bit of a mess with Nelson Spruce back in practice, albeit in limited fashion, while Smallwood has been out of practice. Seattle has a league worst 53 coverage grade from PFF and it’s hard to suss out where the opportunity is with the uncertainties. Spruce’s XFL DFS price is brutal and I think I’d lean towards McBride if Spruce is in. McBride should see Channing Stribling outside, who was slaughtered by Cam Phillips last week as he allows a 97 passer rating on the year. The slot defense is comparably bad, but Spruce may end up running less routes if he’s in. Smallwood is playable as the main slot guy if he’s out. Blacknall would split time with De’Quan Hampton and Jalen Greene if Smallwood and Spruce are both out with Blacknall the likely top option and potentially top value play this week.
- Despite Los Angeles’s offensive improvements, the running back situation seems not great. Larry Rose and Martez Carter both had 25% snap shares to Dujuan Harris’s 16% while Elijah Hood was a healthy scratch. Carter seems like the best option moving forward. He averages 3.7 yards after contact and has shown aptitude in the pass game. He’s not a must-have but could have touchdown equity at a very reasonable price.
Top SEA XFL DFS picks
- B.J. Daniels made his starting debut versus Houston and had a respectable effort spurred on largely by his rushing upside. He had 10 carries for 30 yards and two touchdowns while passing for just 114 yards on 14-for-22 attempts. Daniels is appropriately priced and could have some upside but I’m not sure he’ll have the pass game ability to hit a ceiling superior to some of the other quarterbacks.
- Austin Proehl’s five targets led the team and he’s in a nice matchup against Mike Stevens in the slot. Stevens gives up 1.4 yards per coverage route and seems like the best player to attack. Keenan Reynolds led the team with 27 routes, just ahead of Proehl’s 23, and continued his campaign of nothingness as he caught one ball on his three targets for four yards. He has a 38% catch rate that is abysmal. It may be worth going to a cheaper Alonzo Moore or Reuben Mwehla who both see far less routes across from Reynolds but have shown a comparable amount of fantasy aptitude.
- Kasen Williams has practiced in limited fashion this week and his status is up in the air. He could be an interesting player to target if he’s in (and would displace Moore and Mwehla as well as Dontez Byrd from any worthwhile exposure). He’s unlikely to see a ton of routes after his quad has limited him, and Daniels is a poor passer as discussed above, but he’s a priority player for Seattle.
- Kenneth Farrow led Seattle with a 50% snap share, ahead of Trey Williams’ 31% and Ja’Quan Gardner’s 19%. Farrow’s 10 carries were in line with Daniels for the team lead. Daniels’ rushing ability will take away some checkdowns for an already limited running back group. Farrow could be decent but his price isn’t discounted enough to account for this situation. Other than some tournament dart throws at Farrow or a cheap Williams, I’d still stay away here despite Los Angeles’ league worst 52 graded run defense by PFF.