Thanks to the XFL, we only needed to wait one week from the Super Bowl for more football. Unlike the NFL, expectations for teams and individual players are largely unknown, leaving room for a lot of speculation and plenty of ways to build DFS rosters in a unique way without giving up value.
All of the league's eight teams will play this weekend, with two games each on Saturday and Sunday. Due to the unknowns, spreads and game totals are condensed tightly, featuring totals between 35.5 and 36.5 points as well spreads between 1.5 and three points.
DraftKings is the primary DFS site to offer XFL contests, so that will be the focus of our Week 1 preview. All four games are on the main slate, meaning contests kick off with the opening game, 3 p.m. EST on Saturday between the Las Vegas Vipers and Arlington Renegades. While not particularly important for picks or roster construction, DK has announced that live stats won't update until after each game has concluded.
For more information on the XFL and DK contests, check out our XFL Primer.
Jordan Ta'amu ($9,600), DC vs. SEA
Ta'amu has been the star of the last few spring football leagues that have existed. He completed an impressive 72.4 percent of his passes and averaged 7.8 yards per attempt in five games with the St. Louis Battlehawks in the XFL's pandemic-shortened 2020 season. He also played in the USFL in 2022, leading that league in both passing yards and passing touchdowns. Ta'amu also is a threat with his legs. He's a decent value, as he's just the fourth-most expensive quarterback. That, combined with his track record, likely means he'll be a chalky option.
Kyle Sloter ($10,300) ARL vs. LV
There are more well-known names at the position (see below), but Sloter has produced both in the USFL and NFL preseason action. He was named to the 2022 ALL-USFL team as the quarterback of the Orlando Renegades. Sloter was also with the Jacksonville Jaguars during the 2022 NFL preseason, and he completed 13 of 25 passes for 127 yards and a touchdown in the Hall of Fame game. In his NFL preseason career, Sloter has notched 1,349 yards with a 12:1 TD:INT ratio.
Also consider: A.J. McCarron ($10,500), Ben DiNucci ($9,800)
Abram Smith ($7,900), DC vs. SEA
Smith was the top overall pick in the XFL draft (quarterbacks were assigned by the league, not drafted), so he's worth mentioning. He played at Baylor in 2021 and was signed as an UDFA by the Saints after the 2022 NFL Draft. Although he didn't survive training camp, he had a prolific final season at Baylor (1,601 rushing yards, 12 touchdowns). Despite those positives, there are some concerns about Smith's potential. Both Ryquell Armstead ($4,100) and Artavis Pierce ($3,100) are on the Defenders' roster and have NFL experience. The relative investment in the draft suggests Smith will be the clear lead back, but he has risk as the highest-priced running back on the slate. Finally, it's not likely to be an efficient use of salary to roster both Ta'amu and Smith on the same roster.
Jah-Maine Martin ($7,100), Devin Darrington ($3,500), ORL at HOU
The Orlando backfield is worth highlighting because Martin and Darrington are the only running backs on the roster and are likely to see substantial work as a result. Martin has a traditional workhorse back profile, topping 200 pounds at just 5-foot-9, but he lacks receiving ability. Darrington looks more likely to work as the second back, but he could prove to be a value at his price given the thin depth chart.
Also consider: Jacques Patrick ($7,800), SA vs. STL; Adrian Killins ($7,400), ARL vs. LV
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Juwan Green ($7,100), SEA at DC
Josh Gordon ($9,000) has rightly garnered the most attention of the Seattle receivers, but the Sea Dragons should be an offense to target in general. June Jones led a prolific offense with the Houston Roughnecks in the XFL 2.0 and is now the offensive coordinator in Seattle. He ran a spread system during his long tenure with Hawaii, and it is expected that he'll run a pass-heavy offense once again. Green isn't cheap, but he comes a significant discount to Gordon and could be more productive in a small sample.
Charleston Rambo ($8,700), ORL at HOU
Rambo is another pivot off Gordon because he comes at a comparable price. Much like Abram Smith, Rambo had a strong college career only to go undrafted in 2022. He latched on with the Panthers as an UDFA but was waived Aug. 30. Rambo lacks athleticism relative to NFL standards, but he had an excellent target share while at the University of Miami (he began his college career playing with CeeDee Lamb at Oklahoma), highlighted by a 79-catch effort in his final season. The Renegades' quarterback situation is a bit uncertain, but Rambo should have the ability to rack up targets.
Jalen Tolliver ($7,400), SA vs. SEA
Tolliver is an XFL vet and was fourth in the league in receiving yards prior to the season being postponed in 2020. There's been an influx of former NFL talent, so he may not repeat that same level of production. Even so, Tolliver comes at a relative value given that past production and his price. He may also fly under the radar given the bigger names at the position.
Also Consider: Marcell Ateman ($9,200), STL at SA; Martavis Bryant ($8,900), LV at ARL
Houston Roughnecks vs. ORL ($3,000)
The Roughnecks are led by longtime NFL defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, so there's a fairly straightforward case to be made for rostering them. The good news is that they are the cheapest defense on DK, so rostering the Roughnecks offers a lot of salary savings. The bad news is that they become a pretty obvious play as a result.
D.C. Defenders vs. SEA ($3,500)
The Defenders are among the favorites in future odds to win the XFL championship, and targeting quality teams is generally a good idea. Like Houston, they feature a former NFL defensive coordinator (Gregg Williams), so they should play an aggressive style of defense.
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