The XFL's return season closes Saturday night with the championship game kicking off at 8 p.m. EDT. The D.C. Defenders are 6.5-point favorites over the Arlington Renegades, with a game total of 46.5. The matchup pairs contrasting styles, as the Defenders were the highest-scoring offense in the league during the regular season while Arlington was the lowest. Conversely, the Renegades allowed only 19.4 points per game, while the Defenders allowed opponents to score 24 points per game. Given that, we can likely expect DC to try to push the offensive pace while Arlington will try to play a slow-paced game and limit the chances for the Defenders to put their explosive offense to work.
Jordan Ta'amu ($10,800) was named Offensive Player of the Year and averaged 20.9 DK points per game. As would be expected based on the introduction, Arlington was among the better defenses in the league against the pass, so it wouldn't be surprising to see Ta'amu slowed a bit. He is priced at $16,800 for the captain slot (1.5x points), the highest of the slate.
Luis Perez ($10,000) took over under center for the Renegades midway through the season. He's been a boom-bust option and delivered an excellent performance in the semifinal matchup against the Roughnecks, throwing for three touchdowns and 289 yards. The Defenders were the most generous defensive unit to passing attacks this season, so Perez should be in a position to post another strong performance.
Ta'amu is the safer option, but we aren't likely to see one of his top-end performances. Perez brings a lot more volatility, but the matchup and his performance against Houston last week are reasons to believe he will play well this week.
Both teams have workhorse backs that deserve significant consideration. Abram Smith ($10,600) has consistently been the top-priced back during the season and his high cost has continued as he's sandwiched between the quarterbacks. Volume and role will certainly be on his side, but Arlington allowed the second-fewest rushing yards during the regular season. In his game against the Renegades in the regular season, Smith managed only 56 total yards and 8.6 DK points.
De'Veon Smith ($8,400) comes at a more palatable price, but the Defenders were the toughest matchup for running backs during the regular season. We can expect him to have a massive workload, particularly if Leddie Brown ($6,600) remains sidelined by a knee injury.
Even in a showdown format, I have no interest in looking beyond these two players at the position. Both of the run defenses in this game are stout so rostering a player that is projected to get limited touches isn't likely to be a profitable decision.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
The D.C. receiving corps features are a trio of interesting options. Lucky Jackson ($9,600) is the steadiest among those, as he tied for the team lead in targets while leading the team in both receptions and touchdowns. However, paying up for him and one of the two running backs is difficult to work out from a salary perspective, so it may be more palatable to find pay-down options among pass catchers. Chris Blair ($8,200) isn't cheap by any means, but he offers more explosive ability than Jackson. Despite seeing six fewer targets than Jackson, Blair out-gained him by 21 yards. Finally, Josh Hammond ($7,600) matched Jackson for the team-lead in targets, but he was an underneath option and lacks upside.
Things have changed rapidly on the Arlington side. After dominating targets and being the steadiest producer for most of the season, Sal Cannella ($7,400) has taken on a lesser role in recent weeks. Meanwhile, JaVonta Payton ($6,000) emerged out of nowhere to post five receptions for 121 yards and two touchdowns in the semifinal round. It's unclear whether he'll carry that over, but he's among the cheapest viable skill-position players available. Arlington is a run-heavy offense, which means that Tyler Vaughns ($6,400) and Brandon Arconado ($5,200) will be frustratingly inconsistent.
The Defenders ($4,600) started the season as the premier fantasy defense, though they posted three or fewer DK points in three of the final four regular season games. The Renegades' offense isn't particularly explosive, however, and Perez is prone to make mistakes. They're a fine play, particularly if it opens up salary for a coveted skill-position player.
The Renegades ($4,200) have been a bit more consistent across the second half of the season but still offer upside. Ultimately, the choice of whether to roster them likely will come down to your prediction for the game. If the Renegades are going to pull a significant upset, they'll likely need contributions from their defense.
When considering rostering kickers, remember that there are no extra points. Taylor Russolino ($1,000) is a decent option for extreme savings, as he's made multiple kicks in four consecutive games. Matt McCrane ($1,000) did so in three of seven regular-season games.