XFL Fantasy Week 1 Recap: Scoring Leaders, Usage Report, and Key Takeaways

Week 1 of the XFL revealed so much you NEED to learn to get huge leg up on the Week 2 Fantasy XFL DFS Slate

Week 1 of the XFL is in the books. Though not perfect, the product exceeded expectations universally. From welcoming us inside the minds of coaches and refs, to savvy rule changes to promote points, the XFL’s tweaks were welcomed and created a unique feel of staying-power. This felt far closer to the NFL than the AAF or CFL, and gives us Fantasy Football addicts some genuine hope in our greatest hour of darkness.

Sure, we took our best stabs at projecting XFL Offenses, knocking some (like PJ Walker‘s insane upside in the “Run n Shoot” attack) out of the park. Overall, though, preseason XFL Fantasy Drafts were a complete crapshoot.

As such, pausing and reflecting on the major Week 1 XFL Fantasy takeaways is that much more crucial here than in any other fantasy sport — even if you’re only playing XFL DFS (the only legitimate option right now) There’s simply never been more to learn. We’re learning new players, new rules, new offensive styles and schemes all in one whirlwind blur.

Thus, even if DFS is, by law, a game of skill, the XFL ground is completely uncharted right now. Unlike more established sports, any one of us could become the XFL Gurus if we can be the first to identify the edge-gaining trends and best budget management practices earlier than the pack.

I try to boil it all down into the five most important fantasy XFL takeaways. Granted, making sweeping judgments and predictions on just one week’s worth of evidence is never wise. Still, some league-wide trends were definitely clear, and are grounded in rule-based explanations. You’ll also find the current Fantasy XFL Leaders and Usage Report to give you the most holistic look possible.

XFL Fantasy Trends & Takeaways, Week 1

1) Unique XFL Rules Definitely Impact Fantasy Scoring 

The XFL has put many point-promoting rules into place, which obviously had a direct impact on fantasy scoring.

  • Point-After TDs: After a touchdown, the team must run an offensive play and no kicking plays are allowed. They select the 2, 5, or 10-yard line, worth 1, 2, or 3 points respectively. DraftKings awards the same points when earned. Takeaway: QBs in 30+ point offenses like the Roughnecks gained a huge shot at cheap points (more on Walker later).
  • General Pace of Play: In order to speed up the game, the XFL implemented a 25-second play clock. The heightened speed was visible to anyone tuned in Saturday (although Sunday was a different story). “More football during the game” is the XFL’s explanation, which means more fantasy scoring for all of us.
  • (Lack of) Clock StoppingUnlike the NFL, the XFL clock continues to run after incompletions or out-of-bounds plays once the ball is spotted, save the final two minutes. In short, there’s no incentive to run to bleed out the clock, as it ticks no matter what. As we explore shortly, this had an extremely adverse effect on RBs.

Not yet seen:

  • The XFL’s Shootout Overtime: Similar to an NHL Shootout, XFL OT consists of 5 “staged” rounds. A single possession starts at the opponent’s 5-yard line and the offensive team has one play to score. The team with more points after 5 rounds is the winner. Your player gets +2 for each conversion, an insane +10 potential of points
  • The Double Forward Pass: No team attempted a “double forward pass,” despite the variety of ways this can open up a playbook and defense. We hope Week 2 sees teams capitalize on this unique concept.

2) RBs Don’t Matter… unless they catch passes

In NFL Fantasy, three-down horses gallup us to the promised land.

In XFL Fantasy, you better wrassle yourself down the right target hogs and QBs to win.

If Week 1 was any indication, RBs are going to be an afterthought in the XFL

Granted, like Travis Kelce in NFL Fantasy, high-end talent at a position of scarcity provides an immediate edge. A dependable weekly RB option would be a huge edge.

But are we going to find that consistent backfield presence in a league that very purposely skews towards passing? Unlikely.

Just check out the top-five scoring XFL Fantasy RBs (based on DraftKings scoring):

  1. James Butler, Houston Roughnecks — 19
  2. Trey Williams, Seattle Dragons — 14.3
  3. Lance Dunbar, Dallas Renegades — 11.6
  4. DeVeon Smith, Tampa Bay Vipers — 9.7
  5. Kenneth Farrow, Seattle Dragons — 9.5

Just one of those five players was listed as the starting RB (Smith). Only only one RB, who was listed as a Kick Returner, topped 15 FPs, as compared to 5 WRs to accomplish the feat. The fifth best WR outscored the fifth best RB by a whopping 7.2 FPs.

Meanwhile, how’d the consensus Preseason Top Five, and Top Depth Chart options, perform?

  1. Christine Michael (STL) -0.1 FPs
  2. Cameron Artis-Payne (DAL): 6.3
  3. Elijah Hood (LA): 4.3
  4. De’Veon Smith (TB): 9.7
  5. Jhurrel Pressley (DC): 6.9

Tim Cook (4.0 FPs), Andre Williams (1.7), and Ja’Quan Gardner (3.6) round out the other Depth Chart Number Ones. Yep, not a single “starting” RB topped 10 FPs.

Why do RBs suck in XFL Fantasy?

For one, the XFL rule changes promote passing to the fullest. With the lack of clock stoppage after incompletions or out-of-bounds plays, teams have little incentive to run, regardless of the score or gameflow. To refresh: outside the final two minutes, the clock will run once the ball is spotted, regardless of the play before. This creates little incentive to run and bleed out the clock.

Moreover, the run-blocking was absolutely putrid as a whole across the league. Runners often ran into brick walls, especially around the GL. With no real benefit to rushing, outside maybe establishing a play-action game, RB volume should be low all season; only three backs hit 15+ carries, and not one of those players hit 10+ FPs. Matt Jones led the way with 21 carries, and seems to have outright stolen this job from the more-heralded Michael. He flies up 2020 Rankings.

Moving forward, prioritize overall offenses, as well as pass catching backs. This is why James Butler, the GL guy within the Roughnecks’ explosive attack, should be the highest Waiver Wire priority of the XFL season. Meanwhile, Lance Dunbar and Trey Williams paced the position in targets with 6 and 5 respectively. In such a pass-happy leagues, these late rounders will see a major bump in overall value.

Other Notes: Guardians RB Darius Victor ranks fourth in total opportunities thus far. Despite the small stat day, he looks primed to be the team’s lead tailback. Move him up on boards moving forward.

3)So load up on Target Hogs in those XFL DraftKings Lineups

Based on DraftKings roster settings, you can start up to 4 WRs and only 1 RB.

Anything other than a cheap RB + 4 WR lineups is likely to put your XFL DFS team at a serious disadvantage.

12 of 15 (80%) of the highest scoring flex options were WRs, while only one RB landed in the Top-Five scorers. Even in the NFL, targets have always been a more premium source of volume, but the XFL brings this to a whole new level.

In particular, slot WRs seemed to run wide open, regardless of the game. Three target monsters who moved all over were Nelson Spruce (LA – 26.1 FPs), Austin Proehl (SEA – 24.3 FPs), and Daniel Williams (TB – 21.3 FPs) –the only non-QBs to top 20 FPs. None of these three were atop Preseason Fantasy Rankings lists, though all three should remain fixtures inside the Top-7. Spruce faces minimal target competition on a team that’ll trail often. Williams is the clear Alpha of Marc Trestman’s attack. Proehl shook open with ease inside the 20.

Granted, we were without two of our premiere starting QBs in Josh Johnson and Landry Jones. Who knows if Spruce will remain such a Michael Thomas-esque vacuum from a more talented signal caller. Perhaps Flynn Nagel or consensus Top-5 WR Jeff Badet will explode with LJones inserted over Philip Nelson. And Kasen Williams’ return could muddy Proehl’s target outlook. Still, expect the current leaders to contend for the Fantasy XFL Receiving Crown, particularly Spruce, who was top-three in the AAF.

Outside of these three, the remaining Top-7 (Khalil Lewis, Cam Phillips, Alonzo Russell, Jordan Smallwood) all hauled in TDs. Phillips saw a Roughnecks-high 9 looks, and seems to be an immediate WR2 with upside in the Run n Shoot. We prefer the more efficient Lewis, who operated cleanly out of the slot and hauled in 83% of his looks. Given the Roughnecks reliance on 10 personnel, the Aerial Pie will always be large, but the one being fed might be inconsistent. Smallwood and Russell feel a bit flukier than the others

Right below them, Eli Rogers didn’t find the end zone, but he flashed immediate chemistry with Cardale Jones in logging team-highs in targets (6), receptions (6), and yards (73). He feels likely to be a top-five fixture, especially when the scores follow. Rogers could quickly ascend to the top of the Fantasy WR pack. Meanwhile, Rashard Ross played inconsistent snaps, but did haul in a trademark deep bomb. He’ll trail Rogers in looks, but should continue eating with Jones’ arm strength looking locked-in.

In terms of the preseason favorites: Mekale McKay (8.8), Sammie Coates (4.6), Rashard Ross (13.3), and Jeff Badet (3.6) were largely viewed as the “Big Four” of fantasy XFL WRs, and only one topped 10 FPs. Still, Coates logged a team-high 9 looks, and should benefit from lesser defensive attention after his teammates ate around him. McKay seems like an ideal buy-low, as he was clearly out of shape after missing significant portions of camp. He flashed the big-body and deep-speed to be a nightmare once he gets his legs under him.

Badet remains wait-and-see with Landry Jones’ set to return. I like the idea of buying low, though, as Jones will test defenses deep far more often than Nelson. Flynn Nagel intrigues me more, as he got open at will, and should benefit from Jones’ ability to test defenses deep.

Other Quick Notes: Joe Horn‘s son, Joe Horn, and Jalen Tolliver both logged 8 targets, with minimal fantasy meat to show for it. The target shares are encouraging, though, and both could be intriguing buy-low bankroll savers for Week 2. De’Mornay Pierson El looked shifty out of the slot, and could catch breakout fire if his team needs to take to the air more..Colby Pearson received three deep looks and a 12 yard TD. Money volume.

4) QBs seem mostly a dime-a-dozen… but don’t overreact

In the pass-happy XFL, six of the eight starting QBs hit 17.5 FPs or more (75%), and half topped 20+ FPs. The difference between the QB2 Charles Kanoff and the QB6 Matt McGloin was a whopping 3 points.

Really, unless you started awful Aaron Murray or DAL backup Phillip Nelson, your QB wasn’t your issue in Week 1.

Still, this landscape is far from settled. Josh Johnson and Landry Jones might be the two biggest names of the league, and neither saw the field in Week 1. Don’t be shocked if either, or both, top 30+ FPs in their debuts in Week 2.

Meanwhile, Jordan Ta’amu impressed with his athleticism, rushing for 77 yards. He also caught fire late, leading a go-ahead 11-play, 83 yard drive that secured the W for the BattleHawks. Facing off with the Roughnecks in Week 2, Ta’amu will be put to the test, and showed the upside to rack up chunk points quickly.

Overall, we’ll need to see what Jones and Johnson bring to the table… because as of now, there’s only one true edge-gainer at the position:

5) PJ Walker and the Houston Roughnecks are going to Light XFL Scoreboards on Fire

No one lit the field on fire more than Roughnecks QB PJ Walker. Operating June Jones’ “Run n Shoot” offense to perfection, Walker hucked for 272 yards and 4 TDs, all while racking up a pair of two point conversions. He had all the looks of a fantasy Cheat Code, akin to Lamar Jackson in 2020.

In short: Walker belongs atop not just your XFL Fantasy QB Rankings, but instead your whole Big Board, moving forward.

Sure, we highlighted Walker’s upside within Jones’ scheme over the preseason. Still, we still didn’t see the “Run n Shoot” flowing this flawlessly. Despite operating in a run-obsessed attack under Matt Rhule at Temple, Walker was marvelous as a passer. He  threw with serious zip, and Jones dialed up deep shots time and time again.

The coaching has been particularly impressive in the XFL, and no scheme impressed more than Jones. Given Jones’ previous success crafting stat-stuffing aerial offenses, the Roughnecks explosion should be no surprise, and is no fluke. Expect Walker to continue lighting up fantasy XFL Scoreboards, and make him a priority pick in XFL DFS and future drafts.

If Joe Johnson and Landry Jones fail to reach their ceilings, Walker looks primed to stand far-and-alone as a season-winner in XFL Fantasy.

Other Notes:

  • Be wary of the Road Teams moving forward. Only 1 team (BattleHawks) won, and they were facing a backup QB. All others lost by 10+ points, with the average margin of victory 14.5 points. Definitely target home D/ST moving forward, and hope for the XFL’s sake we get some tighter contests.
  • Players seemed highly out of shape, breathing heavy throughout interviews. Once everyone gets their football legs under them, I expect the points to pick up even further.
  • As mentioned in the RBs section, Depth Charts ultimately meant nothing. We’ll be updating our Team Breakdowns to reflect the Week 1 usage, but countless “starters” didn’t see the field, while fifth stringers racked up stats all over.

The Week 1 XFL Usage Report:

Provided via FBMoneyTeam:



The Roto Street Journal will be crushing your XFL Fantasy Football advice moving forward. Be on the lookout for:

Wednesday: Updated Team Breakdowns & Updated Rankings

Thursday: Week 2 Rankings & DFS Article

Friday: Injury Notes

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