For football fans, it feels like a long wait for the nearly seven months between now and the kickoff of the 2023 NFL season. The good news is that spring football is back, and this year we will get XFL 3.0 as well the USFL. The XFL will kick off first, with a pair of games Feb. 18. There will be many of the same offerings in terms of fantasy contests and betting odds, but before partaking it will be worth familiarizing ourselves with some of the rules that differ both from previous versions of the league and the more familiar NFL rule. In short, the league has publicly prioritized player safety and offense and that is reflected in the rules.
The setup of DraftKings contests will look familiar in both scoring and salary cap ($50,000). The primary difference is the composition of the roster, as the only required positions are one quarterback, one, running back and one DST. There are four remaining roster spots, two of which are WR/TE and the other two FLEX. NFL contests require lineups to consist of nine players, the XFL seven.
Strategy will be a part of each individual slate preview, though generally PPR scoring on DK will incentivize using as many pass catchers in lineups as possible. This is reflected in the Week 1 pricing, in which the highest running back is $7,900. Eight wide receivers have a higher price.
At the time of drafting this article, there are no XFL offerings on FanDuel. That is likely to change and there will be a brief overview of those contests in the Week 1 preview.
We've seen the importance of the kickoff diminish in the NFL, as roughly 60 percent of kicks result in touchbacks. The XFL is attempting to reverse that trend by incentivizing the kicking team to not kick the ball out of the end zone while also incentivizing the receiving team to field the kick.
- If the ball is kicked into the endzone, it is a touchback but the opposing team receives the ball at the 35-yard line.
- If the ball bounces into or through the end zone, the opposing team begins with the ball at the 15-yard line.
- If the ball falls short of the 20-yard line or goes out of bounds, the opposing team begins with the ball at the kicking team's 45-yard line.
The alignment of kickoffs will also look different, as the teams will line up five yards apart, the kicking team starting on the opponent's 35-yard line and the receiving team on its own 30. This is meant to avoid the long sprint down the field for the coverage team, which is often the cause of impactful collisions.
Teams can try to keep the ball after scoring in two ways. The first is a traditional onside kick. The other allows the kicking team to attempt a 4th-and-15 from its own 25-yard line. While the chances of success on the latter play are not high, it should make comeback attempts more realistic late in the game.
Point After Touchdown
There are no kicks for point after attempts. Instead, the scoring team must run a play from the two, five or 10-yard line, which are good for one, two or three points, respectively. If the defense causes a turnover and returns it to the opposite end zone, it will be awarded the corresponding number of points the offense was attempting to score. The fairly obvious intent of this rule is to get rid of a routine play and replace it with a more interesting sequence. It also means that the definition of one, two and three-possession games will change while creating more strategic decisions for coaches.
The XFL will allow two forward passes on a single play when the first pass is completed behind the line of scrimmage. This decreases the risk of teams attempting trick or creative plays, as the initial pass will simply fall incomplete rather than being a fumbled lateral.
A receiver needs to have only one foot in bounds for a catch, mirroring NCAA rules.
The XFL has created a "comeback period," which is the final two minutes of each half of the game. On plays that end with a catch or rush in the field of play, the game clock stops while the ball is spotted and until five seconds elapse from the play clock. As in the NFL, an incomplete pass will stop the game clock.
In all other periods, the XFL is employing an "up-tempo game clock." The primary difference from traditional NFL rules is that when a pass falls incomplete, the game clock only stops until the ball is spotted.
XFL overtimes are meant to mimic that of a shootout in soccer or hockey. Teams will alternate attempts from the five-yard line. The initial period is a best of five, and if no winner is decided it will become sudden death. If the offense commits a penalty after the snap, it does not get a chance to replay the attempt.